Today is my stop on the blog tour for ‘Mongkok Station’ by Jake Needham organised by Damppebbles Blog Tours. I hope that you will check out both the author and the book, as well as the rest of the blogs involved in the tour.
*Disclaimer: ‘I was given a copy this book in exchange for an honest review.’*
A city that’s falling apart, a man who’s falling apart, and a girl with a secret past who has disappeared without a trace. What complicates things is that the missing girl is the daughter of one of the most powerful men in America. She just doesn’t know it.
Hong Kong is teetering on the edge of anarchy. Violent street battles are raging between riot police and mobs demanding democracy.
Samuel Tay is a legendary Singapore homicide detective. He’s retired, but it was purely involuntary. It seems his legend made a lot of senior officers uneasy and they wanted him gone. John August is an American who has shadowy connections to the intelligence community. He’s done Tay a lot of favors in the past, and Tay owes him one.
When August asks Tay to come to Hong Kong to track down the missing girl, Tay doesn’t much want to go. August and his friends deal in the fate of nations. Tay deals with personal tragedies, one human being at a time. Even worse, he doesn’t like Hong Kong and, to be completely honest, he’s not all that fond of Americans either.
Regardless, Tay answers August’s call for help. He’s a man who honors his debts, his forced retirement really sucks, and there’s this woman… well, there’s always a woman in there somewhere, isn’t there?
August thinks that the triads may have kidnapped the missing girl. Tay doesn’t have the sources to get inside the Hong Kong triads so August teams him up with Jack Shepherd, an American lawyer living in Hong Kong who just might be the only white guy on the planet the triads trust.
Tay is considerably less than thrilled by that. Here he is in a city that seems only moments away from going up in flames, everybody is certain the missing girl is dead, and now he’s stuck with all these Americans. Can things get any worse than that? Oh yes, they absolutely can.
Tay has developed symptoms that indicate he may be very seriously ill. For everybody, there is always a last time around the track whether they know it when they make the trip or not. As Tay’s symptoms worsen, it begins to dawn on him that this missing girl just might be his own last time around.
If this really is the end for him, Samuel Tay vows he’s going to go out with one hell of a bang.
While this is the sixth instalment in the Inspector Tay series, I found that it worked very well as a standalone as I have yet to read the earlier books, although I will be doing so in the New Year because this was an enjoyable read and Tay made for a different protagonist that I want to read more of.
There are three main strands woven into Mongkok Station, the case of the missing girl – which on the surface seems almost simple because if you find the girl, you solve the case; however when that is combined with the other strands and the fact that others are missing it becomes something more. Hong Kong is a strand in and of itself, and Needham does a wonderful job of bringing the city to life and dealing with the events happening within the city. From those directly involved with the characters to the wider events of the time, and it not only served as a living, breathing backdrop to the narrative but was almost a character in and of itself. The third strand is Inspector Tay himself and the situations he finds himself in, and he makes for a fascinating character who is wonderfully, gloriously human, his skills and history as a detective, matched with ongoing struggles, and a somewhat bumbling personality blended with a certain humour makes him wonderfully well-rounded, and a character that it is impossible not to become invested in, especially with the situation and danger that he finds himself in.
Mongkok Station is a clever, well-written crime thriller with a wonderful balance of pacing, characterisation, twists and turns and setting. Needham has a very vivid storytelling style, and his obvious awareness and experience of the city shines through on the pages, and really brings it to life, until it feels as though we are there on the ground with the characters. The characterisation is excellent – not just with Tay, and while there is a relatively small cast of secondary characters, they each bring their own unique voice and viewpoint to the narrative and make for some interesting relationships, and I particularly enjoyed Tay’s unlikely friendship with a Triad boss. While the plot wove through so many twists and turns, that you’re left on the edge of your seat and kept guessing until the end.
This was an enjoyable read, with wit and humour, combined with the drama and tension of a thriller and one that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys crime fiction. It’s a wonderful standalone, and if you’re anything like me, it will also be a wonderful introduction to a series and a new detective that will leave you wanting to read more.
About the Author:
Jake Needham is an American lawyer who became a screen and television writer through a series of coincidences too ridiculous for anyone to believe. When he realized he didn’t really like movies and television all that much, he started writing crime novels.
Mr. Needham has lived in Asia for thirty years and has published twelve novels that have collectively sold more than three-quarters of a million copies. He, his wife, and their two sons now divide their time between homes in Bangkok and Washington DC.
You can learn more about Mr. Needham and his novels at his official website: http://www.JakeNeedhamNovels.com.
Mongkok Station (Inspector Samuel Tay #6) – Jake Needham (Published in paperback and digital formats by Half Penny Ltd on 8th October 2020) – ***** (5/5 Stars)
If you’ve read it or read in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.