Sunday, 2 October 2016

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: The Borrowed - Chan Ho-Kei

Release Date: 08/09/16
Publisher: Head of Zeus


From award-winning Hong Kong writer Chan Ho-kei, The Borrowed tells the story of Kwan Chun-dok, a Hong Kong detective who rises from constable to senior inspector over the span of several decades, from the 1960s to the present day, and becomes a legend in the force, nicknamed “the Eye of Heaven” by his amazed colleagues. Divided into six sections told in reverse chronological order — each of which covers an important case in Kwan’s career and takes place at a pivotal moment in Hong Kong history — the novel follows Kwan from his experiences during the Leftist Riot in 1967, when a bombing plot threatens many lives; the conflict between the HK Police and ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption) in 1977; the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989; the Handover in 1997; and the present day of 2013, when Kwan is called on to solve his final case, the murder of a local billionaire, while Hong Kong increasingly resembles a police state. Along the way we meet Communist rioters, ultraviolent gangsters, stallholders at the city’s many covered markets, pop singers enmeshed in the high-stakes machinery of star-making, and a people always caught in the shifting balance of political power, whether in London or Beijing.

The Borrowed reveals just how closely everything is connected, how history always repeats itself, and how we have come full circle to repeat the political upheaval and societal unrest of the past. It is a gripping, brilliantly constructed novel from a talented new voice.


To be honest this is a novel of a number of tales wonderfully interwoven around a dying man who hopes to solve the cases prior to his passing. Its well written, wonderfully descriptive and for me I have to say that the translation kept the story beautifully fluid as well as allowing subtle nuances to be kept within.

Back this up with good understanding of pace, top notch supporting cast and of course a mind that can work intrinsically detailed sequences together in one book that doesn't feel like a short story compendium and all round its led to a very positive reading for me. I can't wait to dive into more books from the far east. Cracking.

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