It’s almost time for First Monday Christmas, our fun festive crimey celebration! And we have a terrific line-up: Tarquin Hall, Shamini Flint, Simon Brett and Sam Blake will be joining us to discuss their terrific new crime and thrillers. Not only that, but the super duper Angela Clarke and Claire McGowan will be going head to head to establish once and for all, who is the Queen of Crime!
And I’m spotlighting The Beijing Conspiracy by Shamini Flint, a gripping international thriller following power struggles in both China and the United States.
The Beijing Conspiracy opens with an image familiar to all of us: a lone man, carrying bags of shopping, standing in front of a column of tanks in a display of non-violent resistance, and whose fate remains unknown.
Years later, Delta Force veteran Jack Ford is startled to receive a letter from a former lover Xia, who was a student leader at the height of the protests in China, where he cut his teeth as a spook. She claims that they have a daughter Fei Yen, and that she needs his help. After everything that happened between them, Jack has no idea if he can trust her, but he can’t ignore a woman who might be his daughter.
Meanwhile, an almighty power struggle is taking place in China. Zhu Juntao is the newly appointed Secretary General of the Communist Party, and is determined to modernise his country. He plans to do so by finding the mysterious Tank Man, presumed to have been given sanctuary by American spies, and rehabilitating him as a hero. But amongst the Politburo, as predicted, he faces resistance, led by General Zhang, who also commands the People’s Liberation Army. Zhang too likes the idea of finding Tank Man – but for very different reasons. Through blackmail and threats, he is building a strong resistance that could bring down Juntao before he even takes the Presidency – and the deck seems fully stacked in his favour.
But, there is another mysterious spy, code named EMPEROR, who has risked everything to smuggle a memo revealing the situation to the US.
BUT, Juntao also faces perhaps surprising opposition from the United States of America. With the buffoonish President taking little to no interest in foreign affairs, but terrified of looking weak, it falls to his hawkish defence team to monitor the situation. And a modernised China doesn’t suit them at all.
With the scene set, The Beijing Conspiracy leaps quickly into action by the second chapter. Seeking more information about his possible daughter, Jack enlists the help of an old spook buddy Peter Kennedy in Singapore to look into Xia before he flies to Beijing. Their reunion is brief – Kennedy is immediately gunned down by Chinese agents – and entrusts the very memo smuggled out by EMPEROR to Jack. Who promptly flies back to Beijing with it. Massive global conspiracy be damned, he has a daughter to find. But he will find that he is directly relevant to Zhang’s plans – because of the events of
If all the double crossing and various conspiracies sound confusing, don’t be put off – it all falls neatly into place for the reader, and launches into a terrifically gripping action thriller. The political conniving is realistically written – and seems terrifyingly plausible, even if I did find it to be a stretch that Mike Pence has at this point died of shame, and Hillary Clinton/Elizabeth Warren has been appointed Veep.
The story crescendos neatly to a breath-taking, edge of your seat climax, with spies revealed, disloyalty unearthed – and yet with a touching father-daughter story at its heart.
Sound good? Come along on Monday 2nd December to meet Shamini and the rest of the panel, and enjoy an evening of criminally festive entertainment!