Ellie is a disabled vet recently discharged from duty in Iraq whose husband (also a vet) takes her with him to China. It is here where he soon leaves her for another woman — and that’s just the start of things.
Rock Paper Tiger is a suspense thriller of the first order. Ellie is a hardbitten, often angry survivor. When her husband leaves, she becomes friends (with benefits) with an artist named Lao Zhang. It is her association with him that brings her into incidental contact with a Uighur who is wanted by the intelligence community as a possible terrorist suspect. Soon after this casual meeting, both Lao Zhang and the Uighur disappear. All of a sudden, Ellie is being interrogated by Western intelligence officers and mysteriously stalked by a Chinese man who wants to help her… or does he?
Ellie knows nothing about the Uighur or his whereabouts, but she is worried about Lao Zhang. She finds herself on the run through China (nearly) always one step ahead of her nemeses. The only support she gets is through avatars in an online game she’s tipped off to — is Lao Zhang trying to help her through the cyber world?
This page-turner toggles from present day back to Ellie’s days on the front lines. She knows about some dark undertakings by her comrades in arms, and what she knows haunts her far more than her present day pursuers.
As Ellie runs through China, she learns who she can trust and learns to come to terms with who she is, what she’s seen, and where she wants to go. This is a riveting novel, taking the reader to modern-day China with its dissidents, its amazingly diverse culture, and its new and powerful players. It’s a treat for book clubs that are looking for something smart, current, and continuously exciting.
Soho Press; ISBN 978-1-56947-951-3; $14.