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China Lake: An Evan Delaney Novel Mass Market Paperback – June 3, 2008

45 customer reviews
Book 1 of 5 in the Evan Delaney Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Santa Barbara attorney Evan Delaney is gutsy and tough, but she has a tender side, too. She dotes on her nephew, Luke, who’s staying with her while his fighter-pilot father, Brian, is deployed overseas. (Brian, who’s stationed at the Mojave Desert naval weapons-testing center, China Lake, has been divorced from Luke’s mother, Tabitha, for years.) Evan’s peaceful cohabitation with Luke is thrown into chaos when Tabitha returns to town under the spell of the Remnant, a fundamentalist sect arming itself for the apocalypse with artillery and biological weapons. Tabitha wants Luke back—no questions asked. Brian comes home, and when the sect’s eerie leader is found dead in Brian’s backyard, the career military man is thrown in jail with little hope of release. Evan and her boyfriend, Jesse, come to Brian’s defense, prompting a flood of memories for Evan, who grew up in China Lake. Gardiner, an American who lives in Great Britain, renders a cast of compelling characters and a hair-raising plot that never stops. This is her second novel to be published in the States (after The Dirty Secrets Club, earlier this year); happily for readers, four more Evan Delaney mysteries are slated for release this summer and fall. --Allison Block


'From beginning to end China Lake is a book that no reader of thrillers will be able to put down. Great characters, dynamic plot, nail-biting action -- Meg Gardiner gives us everything.' -- Elizabeth George 'compelling tale, a powerful mix of murder, terrorism and a wealth of dark secrets.' -- Publishing News 'With a colourful cast of richly delineated characters, a protagonist with whom the readers will easily identify -- all big-hearted, quick-tongued and hair-trigger-tempered -- this novel provides a fast-paced ride through some of the more dubious nooks and crannies of the American dream and is an impressive opening salvo by a Surrey-based expatriate who hits the bookshelves running.' -- Maxim Jakubowski, Guardian 'Sure-footed, action-packed' -- Bookseller 'China Lake makes a strong impression. The story grips and Ms Gardiner is a welcome addition to the ranks of American thriller writers.' -- Sunday Telegraph 20020804 'With energetic, punchy prose and a breathless, action-thriller plot, China Lake is an assured debut. Evan Delaney is a great character, and Gardiner is a writer to watch.' -- Manchester Evening News 20020804 'A great first novel. Fast and hard-edged. Buy it, read it' -- Hull Daily Mail 20020809 'Meg Gardiner's writing crackles with energy' -- Writers Forum 20020809 'This is ... a cracker, with memorable characters, memorable lines and a plot that races along to an explosive ending. A great summer read.' -- Huddersfield Daily Examiner 20020809 'Religious fundamentalism, anti-Aids crusaders, nutty relatives, and a Waco-style shootout: they're all here in the exciting mix that Gardiner expertly stirs up. Great stuff.' -- Independent on Sunday 20020809 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Evan Delaney Novel (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: NAL; Reprint edition (June 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451224558
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451224552
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #858,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Meg Gardiner is the author of twelve thrillers, including the Evan Delaney series and the Jo Beckett novels. She was born in Oklahoma and raised in Santa Barbara, California. A graduate of Stanford Law School, she practiced law in Los Angeles and taught writing at the University of California Santa Barbara. She's also a three time Jeopardy! champion. She lives in Austin, Texas.

China Lake won the 2009 Edgar award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Paperback Original.

The Dirty Secrets Club won the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award for Best Procedural Novel of 2008.

The Nightmare Thief won the 2012 Audie Award for Thriller/Suspense audiobook of the year. The Shadow Tracer was named one of Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2013.

Her latest novel is Phantom Instinct.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Susan on December 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
Meg Gardiner writes a great crime thriller. The action starts fast and keeps going. I was instantly engaged with the opening scene, a confrontation at a funeral between mourners and picketers, and from there, the emotional impact just doesn't let up. Meg gives us us characters we care about -- a lot -- and doesn't let us breath a sigh of relief till the very end.
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Format: Paperback
I really wanted to read this book but getting it proved to be a tad difficult. Stephen King praised Meg Gardiner's suspense novels in his February 9th column on the back page of "Entertainment Weekly," but pointed out that while her novels are set in California they are only published in England. I could only get the fourth one, "Crosscut," through Amazon, but who wants to begin with book four in a series? I do not always pay attention to King's recommendations, but in the back of King's "From a Buick 8" he had recommended the excellent crime novels of K.C. Constantine about Chief Mario Balzac, so I turned to the Amazon across the pond for the other four. Gardiner's fifth novel, "Kill Chain," is not due out in paperback until Spring so I selected as "few shipments" as possible to just have everything shipped then. But then they shipped the second book, "Mission Cannon" to me, followed by the third novel, "Jericho Point," the next day, in what can only be considered a blatant attempt to drive me crazy. Fortunately it was only three days later when they finally shipped me "China Lake," the first "Evan Delaney Thriller," and it arrived on Thursday, which was good because that night the Zenith City got hit by a blizzard that dumped two feet of snow and precluded mail delivery on both Friday and Saturday. But I finally had the book in my hands and could find out what King was all jacked up about.

"China Lake" begins with a religious cult jeering at an AIDS funeral in Santa Barbara, California attended by Evan Delaney. When Peter Wyoming and The Remnant start spewing their hatred the better angels of her nature require her to get in this guy's face.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By David May on October 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
Meg Gardner's writing style is engaging and entertaining. She has a vivid imagination and China lake will take you a way for a while. The attention to geographic detail, while not taking it all the way to boring, strikes a nice balance here. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Looking forward to the next one.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By MRose on July 17, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am now only going to hunt down books with no popular author blurbs. I, along with other reviewers had become interested in Meg Gardiner from a Stephen King article in EW. When I saw the book for sale, knowing that she was previously unpublished in the U.S. I thought "Great, SK cannot lead me astray again!" I couldn't read more than 50 pages. I thought the story was lame and the characters downright annoying, especially the main character, Evan Delaney. Page after page I kept hoping it would get better. For me, it didn't.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By SherriLee on May 27, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What did everyone see that I didn't? I thought this book was less than marginal. The heroine goes to the cult's worship center--alone. She confronts members--alone. She goes to their isolated compound--alone. She is competent with a gun and knows the baddies are circling, yet refuses the one her brother offers. She leaves her nephew, who is in danger, with a woman she hasnt spoken to since high school. She gets huffy with her brother's best friend but turns to a guy she met in a gas station. Then the bad guys expect her naval officer brother to steal them a missile with biological weapons and a) think he will do it and b) think no one will notice? Argh...I kept waiting for something clever or intriguing but it never came. Oh yeah, the cops were all idiots who never once believed her no matter what happened. Nor did they arrest any members of the cult for trashing a block, attempting to kidnap the nephew AND they let them visit the brother in jail--while there was a manhunt out for them. Plus, the female cult leader and the brother are supposedly the same age, yet she poses as his wife's mother? One of the characters says she wants to have Stephen King's baby, so maybe thats why he said he liked it...No-- even that doesn't wash...
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By D. Lively on July 6, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In my opinion of course. The peril is inflated to a ridiculous degree. The idea of using a fundamentalist nut cult like the one that protests at soldiers' funerals as the bad guys is a good one. If it could have been used as a threat just against the protagonist's family, the story might have retained a sense of tense reality. But, instead, this one church cult with one dinky congregation is pumped up into a threat of national proportions with little expanation as to how they obtained the wherewithal to do so.

And that isn't the only problem, the protagonist is a particularly feckless young woman who keeps exposing herself to really dangerous situations with no preparation or back-up or even much thought. And the local authorities are painted as so stupid that they don't even go after the bad guy cult when they openly committ acts of public destruction and mayhem. I could go on. But what's the point? It has been so highly praised by Stephen King no less and others here too, my opinion hardly matters at all.

Still, I would like to understand why the popular opinion runs so counter to my own. It could be the attraction is the portrait of an American society gone seriously bonkers, a kind of geek and freak show. They say she's popular in Britian, maybe that's why.

But I can't help but think that the author has allowed rampant sensationalism to break the back of her narrative. I'm sorry to say that the only reason I finished the book was because I paid eight bucks for it.
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