Welcome to my stop on the Blog Tour for ‘Mongkok Station’ by Jake Needham, organised by Emma at Damppebbles.
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.
Former Singapore detective Sam Tay is retired. Or at least, that’s the theory. When John August from the American intelligence community asks a favour, Tay doesn’t feel he can refuse. Especially as it involves working with the lovely Claire. Then again, Hong Kong isn’t Tay’s favourite destination and with all the riots and political shenanigans going on, it might be wise to avoid the place.
The difference, of course is that this involves a missing woman and that’s really a detective job—a skill Tay revels in. On the face of it, there’s not much to go on—a woman goes missing from a train station, apparently within sight of a close friend, and then disappears completely. With the possibility of Triad involvement, it may be that this is a straightforward ransom job, but no ransom demand has been made. And then there’s the problem of Tay’s dead mother…
I’m ashamed to say that it’s almost exactly three years since I last read a Jake Needham novel (The Ambassador’s Wife) but thank God I finally got around to reading another one. Mongkok Station is book #6 in the Samuel Tay series and like the first one, it’s a cracker. Mr Needham’s writing is sharp and witty and the character of Sam Tay is so unlike any other detective that you can’t help but keep reading. I loved the awkwardness of his relationship with Claire and the unlikely friendship with Triad boss, Jones, who assists Tay with an unrelated issue (though one that could literally be the death of the former cop).
What’s interesting about this book is that it isn’t just the mystery that keeps the plot rolling along, but the possibility that Sam might not make it to the end of the story. Creating characters that readers applaud simply because of who they are, is no mean feat. Jake Needham is a hell of a writer and, having given myself a good kick in respect of his backlog, I’ll definitely be reading more about Sam Tay—in fact, I’ve just bought book #2, The Umbrella Man. Yey!
A clever and thoughtful read that is simply light years ahead of any other novel in the genre.
About Jake Needham
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.
Published in paperback and digital formats by Half Penny Ltd on 8th October 2020