Robert, an Oakland cop, still can't let go of Suzy, the enigmatic Vietnamese wife who left him two years ago. Now she's disappeared from her new husband, Sonny, a violent Vietnamese smuggler and gambler who's blackmailing Robert into finding her for him.Read more...
Robert, an Oakland cop, still can't let go of Suzy, the enigmatic Vietnamese wife who left him two years ago. Now she's disappeared from her new husband, Sonny, a violent Vietnamese smuggler and gambler who's blackmailing Robert into finding her for him. As he pursues her through the sleek and seamy gambling dens of Las Vegas, shadowed by Sonny's sadistic son, "Junior," and assisted by unexpected and reluctant allies, Robert learns more about his ex-wife than he ever did during their marriage. He finds himself chasing the ghosts of her past, one that reaches back to a refugee camp in Malaysia after the fall of Saigon, as his investigation soon uncovers the existence of an elusive packet of her secret letters to someone she left behind long ago. Although Robert starts illuminating the dark corners of Suzy's life, the legacy of her sins threatens to immolate them all.
Vu Tran has written a thrilling and cinematic work of sophisticated suspense and haunting lyricism, set in motion by characters who can neither trust each other nor trust themselves. This remarkable debut is a noir page-turner resonant with the lasting reverberations of lives lost and lives remade a generation ago.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-06-08
- Reviewer: Staff
Tran’s thriller debut revolves around an elusive woman who seems lost in her own private—and haunted—world. Robert Ruen is an Oakland, Calif., police officer whose Vietnamese ex-wife, Suzy, has remarried a shady Las Vegan gambler named Sonny Van Nguyen, a figure with whom she shares a distant past. When Suzy disappears, Ruen is strong-armed by Sonny’s son, Junior, to help track down the woman Ruen never really knew. His search transpires in a wonderfully noirish Las Vegas, including second-tier casinos and strip-mall restaurants concealing underground aquariums stocked with illegal and exotic creatures—the titular dragonfish among them. Interspersed with Ruen’s quest is Suzy’s own first-person narrative about fleeing with her daughter war-torn Vietnam by boat for a Malaysian refugee camp. These long sections, addressed to the daughter she abandoned upon reaching the States, occasionally interrupt the novel’s momentum. However, they also feature the strongest writing and elegantly reveal the roots of Suzy’s mercurial behavior: “Everything that has happened since seems a shadow of what happened there.” This is a most enjoyable mystery, from its distinct, dazzling premise all the way to its satisfying conclusion. (Aug.)