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The Last Six Million Seconds (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) [Kindle Edition]

John Burdett
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $5.01 (33%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Paperback $12.34  
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Book Description

It is April 1997, and all of Hong Kong is counting down to July 1, when Britain will hand over rule of the country to China. Public anxiety about the transfer of power is running high, but “Charlie” Chan Siu-kai’s biggest concern is a gruesome triple murder case, with no solid leads. Chan, a half-Chinese, half-Irish Hong Kong native and chief inspector with the Royal Hong Kong police, thinks he’s found a breakthrough when three mutilated heads are found floating in Chinese waters. But he grows increasingly frustrated as the Chinese police actively hinder—and the English bureaucrats pointedly ignore—his investigation. As Chan tracks the killers, he discovers cover-ups and conspiracies running deeper than even he had imagined. All the while, in the background, the clock ticks down to the day the British leave . . .

Editorial Reviews


“[A] fine and subtle thriller. . . . Intense and timely.” —Chicago Tribune

“John Burdett is purely and simply a wonderful writer.” —The Washington Post Book World

“Capture[s] the verve and excitement of Hong Kong in its heyday.” —Boston Herald
“Enthralling.” —Publishers Weekly

“John Burdett’s crime novels . . . are lovely and complex. . . . The reader is transported to a foreign world made familiar through the voice of his guide.” —The Denver Post
“Burdett’s fever-dream mysteries recast the police procedural as psychedelic peep show.” —The New Yorker
“You might find yourself addicted to Burdett’s sizzling prose.” —San Antonio Express News
“John Burdett is writing the most exciting set of crime novels in the world.” —The Oregonian
“Time and again, John Burdett breaks the crime-thriller mold. And then reassembles it, piece by piece. His narrative becomes more than the sum of its parts. . . . Thoroughly enjoyable.” —New York Journal of Books

About the Author

John Burdett was brought up in North London and worked as a lawyer in Hong Kong. To date he has published seven novels, including the Bangkok series: Bangkok 8, Bangkok Tattoo, Bangkok Haunts, The Godfather of Kathmandu, and Vulture Peak.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3315 KB
  • Print Length: 402 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (May 29, 2012)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0064C3UQ4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #135,880 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Thinking Man's Cop! July 28, 2002
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I, too, can't believe this is out of print and only available as a used book. It should be in paperback, and is far superior to most thriller/mystery books available today. Mr. Burdett writes with an insider's knowledge of Hong Kong prior to its transfer from Great Britain to the PRC, as well as knowledge of the sinister world of both the People's Liberation Army and the Chinese Triads. His protagonist, Chief Inspector Chan, is believable and human. Chan makes mistakes and suffers from self-doubt like everyone else. His uncanny ability to solve crimes comes more from good police work and determination than anything super human, despite the bureaucratic roadblocks and red tape he meets along the well as the political dirtywork that thwarts his investigation of one of the grizzliest murders you'll find in literature today. Royal Hong Kong Police Chief Inspector "Charlie" Chan isn't James Bond...Thank God! No gimmicks. No sci-fi gizmoes. Just plain old police work. He's half Chinese-half Irish and 100% real (warts and all)! I hope Mr. Burdett writes another Chief Inspector Chan novel soon. I hated to see this one end.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars John Burdett - Not a Bangkok Novel May 19, 2013
By j-lo
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Dear Farang reader (DFR), I am an avid fan of John Budett and his Bangkok/Sonchai Jitpleecheep novels. These books are very exotic and very well written. In my opinion, John Burdett is easily the most literary crime fiction writer out there. He is a wonderful writer (for this genre). The only drawback for me with the Bangkok novels is that they are so surrealistic and diabolical (kiler snakes, snuff films, human organ-trafficing, etc.) that you cannot remember one book from the other. Reading these books is a little bit like smoking opium which leads me to the Last Six Million Seconds (opium plays a part). I really enjoyed this book as it is a welcome change-up from the Bangkok books. The historical context behind the novel (the 1997 British hand-over of Hong Kong to China)is a great back drop. The story is a little weird (a guresome triple murder), but Burdett's descriptions of the menuvering and politics and avarace on both sides ledading up to the hand-over are facinating. I always thought that the PRC was just a huge monolithic communist state. Now I know different. This book makes the Bo Xilai scandal much easier to understand. If you are a Burdett fan and have not read this book, you should read it. I have to say that it is better than the recent Vulture Peak (no more General Zinna).
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent, complex and intense book October 22, 2003
A thriller is usually has some artificially constructed point
of suspense. A race against time or against forces that
outnumber the protagonist. The suspense in "The Last Six
Million Seconds" is different. The central character,
"Charlie" Chan is outnumbered by the forces surrounding him.
But he is more than willing to let go of his investigation
if told to do so by his British masters. As with other
"thrillers" there is a mystery at the core of the story,
but this mystery is simply a center around which the powers
in the story orbit. The suspense arises from plot elements
and the setting.
There are four forces which operate in the plot: the British,
the fading colonial masters of Hong Kong, the triads or tong,
China, which will take over Hong Kong and "Charlie" Chan,
a somewhat fanatic chief inspector of the Hong Kong Police.
The triads are supposed to be some of the most violent criminal
organizations in the world. I read somewhere that they once
cut the arms off a journalist in a conference room where he
worked. With the take over of Hong Kong by China the triads
have to adjust to the new power realities of another criminal
faction, the generals of the Red Army. The fading British
Empire wants nothing more than to extract itself from Hong
Kong. Like a cork floating in this stormy sea is inspector
Chan and his investigation. The violence that is the
undercurrent in the story simply reflects the violence of the
triads and the Red Army.
Read more ›
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another fine Burdett mystery August 16, 2004
The Last Six Million Seconds is a marvelous combination of engrossing mystery and the drama of Hong Kong's transition from a British colony to the control of a Chinese dictatorship. Throughout the story, one of Burdett's strengths is his ability to capture the intangibles of culture. Consider this insight:

"In the beginning was the Word. But it was sung, not spoken. Prehistoric humans from Peking Man in the East to Cro Magnon in the West used the full range of the vocal scale to sing instructions for the hunt, sing guidance to their children, sing reverence to the gods that provided the mammoths. They would have despised the flat, dead speech of modern times for the tuneless whitterings of ghosts.....the oldest language in modern usage is also the most musical. With nine tones to condition meaning, Cantonese can present a challenge to a tin ear from the Bronx." (p.283)

Burdett uses Richard Hughes' formula of 'a borrowed place living on borrowed time' to explain the psychological challenge Hong Kong residents face during the last six million seconds before they return to Chinese control.

The criminal activities of the People's Liberation Army, including their willingness to use violence and intimidation to create rigged enrichment for a small handful of Generals, are described in accurate details. Burdett even uses official United Nations reports to enhance the sense of realism. He also manages to weave through all this the issue of the Laogai--the prison/slave labor system by which 50,000,000 people live lives of enslavement in China, according to Burdett.

Burdett's protagonist is a driven Chinese-Irish policeman seeking answers to the brutal deaths of two Chinese men and an American girl. The journey is worth the read. Indeed I am beginning to believe that anything John Burdett writes is worth reading.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not my cup of tea.
I liked the setting and the main character, an Irish-Cantonese detective, was well drawn. For my little brain, the layers of intrigue and so many, many players, made the story... Read more
Published 25 days ago by Waymac
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Good but not as good as J. Burdett's other novels
Published 26 days ago by Simon Templar
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterly handling of detective story carrying political and cultural...
John Burdett is just a consummate story teller with the wonderful addition of significant insight into politics and culture of the places his novels are set, this one Hong Kong... Read more
Published 29 days ago by Charles H. Harpole
4.0 out of 5 stars I like the writer.
My favorite is Bankok 8. But I like everything Burdett writes.
Published 1 month ago by Sara cucinotta
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Another fantastic ride - this time in Hong Kong - deftly written by Burdett.
Published 1 month ago by Laurie
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great book
Published 1 month ago by Richard Cohn
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Wow. What a great read. Terrific story and characters.
Published 3 months ago by cawcaw
5.0 out of 5 stars Consuming. Great book!
Took almost 2 weeks to get from Dallas to Arlington. Could have driven over and picked it up, come home poured a glass of wine and read the first chapter in less than 2... Read more
Published 4 months ago by mzshari
5.0 out of 5 stars vintage Burdett
It is a pity inspector Chan did not appear in more of Burdett's books. What a great story, and what a character. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Ponder
5.0 out of 5 stars another compelling journey into the complexities of good and evil,...
I need to read it a second time, even though the circles of confusion meet up at the end. And do some reading on the powers in Hong Kong, as they are now. Read more
Published 4 months ago by K. B. Rosenthal
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More About the Author

John Burdett is the author of A Personal History of Thirst, The Last Six Million Seconds, Bangkok 8, and Bangkok Tattoo.


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