From Publishers Weekly
Reconnecting with beautiful antiques dealer Leah Kolbe and her fiancé, Jonathan Hawatyne, Petit's sequel to The Fat Man's Daughter opens with a scene of Hong Kong splendor, complete with Ernest Hemingway at the Peninsula Hotel, setting the stage for the loss to come when the start of the second Sino-Japanese War in 1937 sends Jonathan into battle—right in the middle of a movie date. Heart-broken, Leah prepares for starvation on watery congee, but after Hong Kong surrenders manages to escape by boat. Landing in Macau's with nothing, she finds work with the British Consulate and then is recruited by a man named Benjamin Eldersen to get close to a Japanese businessman, the son of an ammunition and steel manufacturer. Espionage hijinx ensue, and Jonathan's gone missing. Throughout, readers are meant to feel Leah's anguish for Jonathan, but her interior life remains stubbornly two-dimensional. Still, the melodrama pulls readers through the streets of Hong Kong and Macau during a tempestuous period, making this war-time romantic suspenser a pleasant enough escape. (Dec.)
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Leah Kolbe, who took over her late father’s antique business in Hong Kong in Petit’s debut novel, The Fat Man’s Daughter (2006), once again proves herself a survivor, this time during the Sino-Japanese War. Before she accepts longtime lover Jonathan Hawatyne’s proposal of marriage, she is recruited to gather intelligence—by seduction, if necessary—from Tokai Ito, son of a Japanese steel magnate. Then comes the attack on Pearl Harbor: Jonathan is called to military service, Britain declares war on Japan, and Leah flees to Macau. Hired to assist the British consul there, she embarks on an affair with Ito that compromises her safety, and she becomes involved with two other dangerous men from her past: Chang, to whom she passes military intelligence, and Vasiliev, with a new identity as a Brit. With insufficient background about some recurring characters, this is more successful as a sequel than a stand-alone; still, it’s a colorful portrayal of the cruelty and deprivation of war, it’s peppered with vividly portrayed historical personages (among them newly married Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn), and it stars a plucky protagonist who continues to land on her feet. --Michele Leber