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China Star Hardcover – April 18, 2006

17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Palpably contrived although rich in ambience and marvelously entertaining, Bull's new erotic swashbuckler revisits Count Alexander Karlov, the dashing and sensual young Russian hero from Shanghai Station. Picking up the action four years later in the Paris of 1922, we find Alexander, now 22, searching for his twin sister, Katia, who at age 17 was raped and kidnapped from the Trans-Siberian train by the Karlovs' bitter enemy, Soviet Commissar Viktor Polyak—the same assassin who murdered their mother and later killed their father in Shanghai. Alexander doesn't know that Polyak is already in Paris and awaiting the arrival of Katia, who—now the mother of Polyak's son and thoroughly brainwashed by the best Party training schools adept in the art of assassination—is carrying out a mission to kill a Party enemy in Poland. Miraculously, the siblings reunite and flee for Shanghai on the steamer China Star while Polyak relentlessly chases them through Cairo, Bombay, Ceylon and to Shanghai. At times more travelogue and tour guide (with some romance) than cliffhanger, Bull has delivered another light, lithe read. (June)
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From Booklist

In this sequel to Shanghai Station (2004), the young White Russian count, Alexander Karlov, travels across three continents in his dangerous quest for vengeance and romance. The adventure begins in 1920s Paris, where Karlov is hunted by the brutish Bolshevik agent Viktor Polyak--the man who murdered his parents and forced his twin sister, Katerina, into sexual servitude. Katerina, brainwashed by her Soviet captors and now trained as an assassin, meets up with her brother and flees with him to Shanghai aboard the China Star. All the while, the twins are pursued by the sadistic Polyak and his vicious thugs, which barely leaves the dashing count time to engage in a passionate dalliance with the exotic wife of an insane English tea planter. Once in Shanghai, Karlov reunites with his business partner, the sinister Chinese gangster Hak Lee, to exact revenge for the murder of his parents. Exotic locales, swashbuckling action, well-researched historical details, and juicy intrigue should make this appealing to readers who like their historical fiction fast and furious. Michael Gannon
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 1st Carroll & Graf Ed edition (April 18, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786716770
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786716777
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,273,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Scott Schiefelbein VINE VOICE on January 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I first came to the British adventure novelist Bartle Bull through his African trilogy ("The White Rhino Hotel," "The Cafe on the Nile," and "The Devil's Oasis"). Bull wrote of a fading vision of the European playground in northern Africa - a paean to the romantic life of his father and so many other Brits with restless souls. These novels had a formula that could be summed up as high adventure, glorious sex, and dastardly murder . . . basically an 'R' rated "Indiana Jones" set of thrills and chills.

And they were great.

With "Shanghai Station," Bull sent his focus to the East - Russia and China - and the story became a bit darker. Alexander "Sasha" Karlov is the shining son of an aristocratic White Russian family fleeing the chaos of the Bolshevik Revolution. Their only destination is the teeming seaport of Shanghai, as colorful a locale as any writer could hope for. This story gave Bull the opportunity for more high adventure, glorious sex, and dastardly murder. But all of this was tempered in part by the rage of his villain, Victor Polyak, a Bolshevik Commissar and flat-out stone cold murderer. Polyak kills Sasha's parents and kidnaps and rapes his twin sister, Katia. In a classic "there-will-be-a-sequel" ending, a bitter fight between Karlov and Polyak ends with Karlov wounded but convinced that Polyak must be dead because all that is left of him is his severed hand.

Of course, Polyak is not dead, but only more lethal - now armed with an evil set of hooks where his hand used to be. In "China Star," Polyak tries to track down Karlov and exact his revenge. But Karlov is a beloved figure with friends everywhere, including the highest tiers of the criminal element in Shanghai.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By aragorn10901 on August 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I have read all of Mr.Bartle's novels and look forward to each new one. Just for a reference point I would rate each of his 3 Africa novels 5 stars. I own them and like lending them to friends who enjoy a good book. However this book was a major disappointment. I would rate it 2 1/2 stars. First what I liked the characters are all well drawn out and interesting. He also has a nice knack in describing the surroundings where the action takes place very descriptive and informative. What I didn't like was the extended time given to the relationship/romance between the count and laia to describe it in one word boring. I guess the women may like it but it seems Mr. Bull has forsaken action for romance. An unbelievable romance at that. In previous books he has had relationships between men and women that rang true this one just seemed so contrived and out of place. It was like there was a gap between the beginning and the end of the story so he decided to throw a little sexy romance and a trip to Ceylon in. Next time I'll look before I buy. If your interested in a great read get Shikir by Jack Warner
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Saperstein HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Bartle Bull wrote a fascinating historical novel set in post-Bolshevik Revolution Shanghai. Chronicling the adventures of the fictional aristocratic Karlovs, the evil Cheka agent Viktor Polyak, the Chinese strongman Hak Lee and other colorful characters, "Shanghai Station" was a winner because of deft dialog, reasonable plotting and strong historical elements.

"China Star" has the emphasis on history, but lacks the other two elements. The plot is implausible. In "Shanghai Station" Alex Karlov's mother is murdered and his sister kidnapped from the Trans-Siberian Express by Cheka monster Victor Polyak. "China Star" is continuation of Alexander's hunt for his sister and his mission to kill Polyak.

It is unbelievable. Polyak keeps trying to kill Alexander and Alexander keeps escaping. Polyak is a master murderer of everyone else except Alex. It's like those old Western movies where the bad guys seem to have two shots in their six-shooters and the good guys have thirty.

Worse yet, Bull layers on a romance that seems to be a replay of "Lady Chatterley's Lover". The innumberable sex scenes seem as if they were written by a fifteen year old assembling scraps of locker room sex lore.

To bridge the vast gaps in his plot, Bull has Alex meet one character after another whom Alex just happens to find a critical use for. As a social exploiter, Alex is top-tier. But all these fortuitous meetings fail to overcome the improbabilities of the plot.

On ther whole, Bull should have either been content with his acheivement in authoring "Shanghai Station" - or should have waited until he actually had a plot for "China Star," which is, in my opinion, an embarassment to him.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Burns on January 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
China Star, the admirable sequel to Bartle Bull's adventure/romance Shanghai Station, appears to fall victim to an age-old curse: Trying to follow up an absolutely astounding book by penning out a longer, more expansive follow-up. With this minor error, Bull has made the supremely readable adventures of Count Karlov somewhat secondary to Bull's desire to explain - in detail - every natural and developmental aspect in the history of Ceylon, where a good portion of China Star takes place.

That said, China Star is never drudging or dull. Even at its most anthropological and ornithological, Bull's ability to make characters and locales come alive far outshines even the best mass-market fiction authors. One can feel the conflicted motivations of Bull's ever-increasing cast of characters (Alexander Karlov harassed once again by the nefarious Cheka Agent Viktor Polyak, and a motley band of other Communist agents), although Polyak, the bloodthirsty Commissar from Shanghai Station, still comes off as a bit two-dimensional. Thankfully, Bull has remedied this by providing an engaging cast of secondary and tertiary characters.

Make no mistake, even though Bull seems to enjoy turning portions of China Star into travel guides, his work still stands out as exemplary among modern writers. Those who found Shanghai Station to their liking will certainly find China Star to be a proud continuation of the Karlov adventures.
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