The Mystery of Moutai
written by G.X. Chen
published by G.X.Chen
Why did I pick this book: I was asked by the publicist to review this book. (I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)
Did I enjoy this book: Yes.
The Mystery of Moutai is a really interesting, unique, fun story to read. The first mystery is figuring out what Moutai is. Early on in the book we learn that it’s a very expensive, highly desirable Chinese liquor. It plays a central role in the murder of the Shao Mei.
The rest of the book is dedicated to solving her murder. The investigation takes us from California academia through the Chinese Cultural Revolution and ends up in modern China where our characters catch the bad guy.
Most of the story moves along through dialogue. There’s a little violence. There’s just enough description to keep the reader in the scene. But this book employs lively, meaningful dialogue for the majority of the storyline – interesting.
I love how this book taught me a lot about history and Chinese culture while keeping me thoroughly entertained.
I went with 4 1/2 instead of 5 stars because I had trouble keeping the characters and their relationships to one another clear. It could be due to the Chinese names being unfamiliar. I’m not sure. But since so much of the story unfolded through dialogue, it’s really important to keep the characters straight. I struggled with that.
Would I recommend it: Absolutely.
About the book – from Goodreads: A teenager returns home from school to find a gruesome scene: the apartment he shares with his mother, Shao Mei, in Boston’s Chinatown has been ransacked and she is dead. There is a bottle of Moutai—the most exotic and expensive Chinese liquor—left at the scene and traces of rat poison in one of the two shot glasses on the kitchen counter. This was evidently a homicide, but who could possibly be the killer?
Ann Lee and Fang Chen, close friends of the victim, team up with the Boston police to solve this mystifying crime: why would anyone want to murder a harmless middle-aged woman, one who worked as an unassuming mailroom clerk, with no money, no connections, and presumably, no enemies?
Realizing that important clues behind the motive may be buried deep in the victim’s past, they travel to Beijing, where Shao Mei spent more than fifty years of her life. While there, surrounded by the antiquities of China’s rich and complex history, they stumble unwittingly into a cobweb of mystery and danger. Fearing for their lives but determined to press on, they end up unearthing a scandal more deceptive and far-reaching than either could have imagined.