It’s time to welcome Sophia Rose back to the blog with a review of Wild Prey by Brian Klingborg. This is the second novel in the Inspector Lu Fei mysteries. Grab a cup of tea and see why this was a five cup read.
The search for a missing girl sends Inspector Lu Fei undercover into the wild corners of Myanmar, and the compound of the deadly and mysterious woman warlord responsible for the illegal trafficking of exotic animals and possibly more, in the next book from Brian Klingborg, Wild Prey.
Police Inspector Lu Fei has an unfortunate talent for getting himself into hot water with powerful and well-connected people. Which is why he’s been assigned to a backwater town in a rural area of Northern China and quietly warned to keep his head down. But while running a sting operation on the sale and consumption of rare and endangered animals, Lu comes across the curious case of a waitress who has gone missing. Her last known whereabouts: a restaurant frequented by local elites, owned by smooth-talking gangster, and known for its exotic — and highly illegal — delicacies.
As usual, Lu’s investigation ruffles some feathers, resulting in his suspension from the police force. Lu figures he’s reached a dead-end. Then he’s contacted by a mysterious government official in Beijing who wants him to go undercover to track down the mastermind behind an illegal animal trafficking network — and hopefully, the answer to the fate of the missing waitress. The mission will require Lu to travel deep into the lawless wilds of Myanmar, where he will risk his life to in
Sophia Rose’s Review
A missing woman, an exotic animal black market connection, and a policeman undercover make for an intense second installment to this series set in modern day China. After the first book captured my attention, I was primed and ready to grab up this next standalone mystery which took me on another amazing visit to China and following along with the engaging Inspector Lu.
Wild Prey could standalone easily as it begins a new case for the unconventional Inspector Lu Fei though I will say that I think the author gave a much deeper background into Lu Fei and the situation in his part of China in the first book.
Wild Prey opens with a gruesome prologue set in the steaming jungle of Myanmar before shifting to the backwater city, Raven Valley, in China where Inspector Lu is going about his usual police cases and still trying to get the pretty Yanyan to give him a chance. He ends up with a missing person case that should have never been his jurisdiction because it happened in the city of Harlen some distance away.
The author has already painted a picture of modern day China and how things work. Lu is a man of parts. He ended up in a backwater precinct where he probably won’t advance far because he isn’t exactly one who plays by the rules when it comes to the social and political games one must play. He doesn’t care how powerful the person is; he’s not turning a blind eye and will stay tenaciously on a case that others are trying to sweep under the carpet.
That is the situation he finds himself in once again with this mystery. He’s been warned off a case because it might expose powerful party officials who’ve been frequenting a restaurant that serves illegal exotic animals on the menu and some hanky-panky with the waitresses à la carte. One of the waitresses has gone missing and her little sister’s persistent pleas for justice keep him on the trail when warnings from the restaurant owner, the Harlen police chief, and his own chief don’t stop him.
The first mystery was more police procedural tracking a serial killer, but this one jumps those rails and heads into spy thriller territory when Lu is put on probation and approached by a shadowy figure from China’s version of the CIA to go undercover and pursue the missing woman case by following the exotic animal procurement end and tracking the on the run restaurant owner who could lead him to the woman. I was on the edge of my seat and flipping pages rapidly trying to see how Lu, who is the least like an undercover agent as it gets, is dropped into the deep end of the pool playing a shady character role, hanging out with real criminals, and eventually going into a female warlord’s territory down in Myanmar.
Wild Prey was intense and exciting, and the build to the end was full of twists and surprises. It even goes over the top as to plausibility, but I was hooked and couldn’t have stopped reading for anything. The resolve was a big surprise. I was left most satisfied and looking forward to more from this fledgling series. I’d recommend it to those who enjoy murder mysteries set in Asia with a lone wolf Chinese detective as the main figure.
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