(Finalist for the 1997 Edgar Award for Best First Mystery and a New York Times Notable Book) In this first of her Red Princess mysteries—her debut novel, and the prequel to The Interior and Dragon Bones—Lisa See introduces us to David Stark, an Assistant U.S. Attorney, and his one-time lover Liu Hulan, a Beijing police detective whose unorthodox methods are tolerated because of her success. After the U.S. ambassador's son is found entombed in a frozen lake in Beijing, at about the same time as the body of a Red Prince—a scion of China's political elite—turns up in the hold of ship adrift off the coast of California, Stark and Liu are paired by their governments in an unprecedented joint investigation. The trail leads them to almost every corner of China in the last days of Deng Xiaoping's rule, and back to the thriving Asian community of Los Angeles, while their intense attraction to each other plays into a vengeful killer's hands.
"Lisa See begins to do for Beijing what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did for turn-of-the-century London or Dashiell Hammett did for 1920s San Francisco: She discerns the hidden city lurking beneath the public facade."—Washington Post Book World
"A graceful rendering of two different and complex cultures, within a highly intricate plot.... The starkly beautiful landscapes of Beijing and its surrounding countryside are depicted with a lyrical precision."—LATBR