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The Jasmine Trade: A Novel of Suspense Introducing Eve Diamond Hardcover – July 17, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
When a young Chinese bride-to-be is found dead at the wheel of her Lexus at the start of this solid debut thriller, plucky Los Angeles Times reporter Eve Diamond's compulsive curiosity and professional instinct for good copy lead her into the unfamiliar and intersecting worlds of Asian gangs and Southern California's "parachute kids," wealthy Asian teens living unsupervised in San Marino mansions while their parents manage businesses on the other side of the Pacific. By quickly befriending a parachute kid "dancing with the dragon" of gang membership and just as swiftly falling in love with Mark Furukawa, a counselor for troubled teens, Eve ensures herself a role in the investigation that is both complicated and personal. Add in the murdered girl's secret diary, her shady fianc, a corrupt bank, a racist cop and the "jasmine trade" (smuggling girls out of Chinese provinces and forcing them into prostitution), and it's not surprising that Eve's entanglement in the case becomes life threatening. First-time novelist Hamilton, herself a former L.A. Times scribe, might be accused of "dancing with the dragon" of common mystery novel tropes, but she, unlike many of her characters, escapes essentially unscathed. In addition to a gripping story and keen observations about contemporary Los Angeles, she also offers an undeniably winning narrator: intelligent, impulsive Eve is sharp on the outside and vulnerable on the inside, willing to cogitate with equal intensity on issues private (a lost love, a dead brother) and public (racial and socioeconomic politics, "the media's scorching glare"). And Hamilton hints, ever so gently, that her heroine might return.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Journalist Eve Diamond knows the problems of contemporary teens, having reported on them for the Los Angeles Times. But when she follows up on a story about 17-year-old Marina Chang, found murdered in her car, she runs across a term she's never heard before: "parachute kids." With a little digging and some help from a good-looking social worker, she learns about a disturbing teen subculture: rich Asian immigrant kids who are living virtually on their own while their parents remain in China or elsewhere to run the family business. Of course, it's too late to save Marina, but Eve is determined to do her best to save another "parachute kid" at risk. This is Hamilton's first novel, and it shows a little: everything comes together too easily in the end, and the climax seems stagey and overplayed, like a gunfight in an old western movie. What does work--and work very well--is the author's thoughtful, eye-opening look at a new version of a destructive, ongoing social evil: kids joining gangs to find family. Stephanie Zvirin
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Top customer reviews
(One caveat: The transfer of the printed book to kindle is rather messy, with some words running together with no spaces between them, especially in spots where there were italics in the original text. It did not bother me, but your mileage may vary.)
If one is looking for the done-to-death stereotype of LA as a Jackie Collins-type universe populated by Hollywood agents and cosmetically altered actresses who romp through pastel-colored mansions and in-spot restaurants, one will not find it here. Hamilton gives us something much better, fresher and more literary with this debut novel. An experienced reporter, she proves herself here to also be an artful fiction writer. From the first page, we are aware we're in the hands of a self-assured guide. We enter worlds we rarely get to see. The Jasmine Trade is arguably a mystery/thriller, yes, but one that has greater literary ambitions than a formulaic whodunit. What distinguishes this book is the author's passion and conversance with the city's quirkier neighborhoods, newsroom antics, pop cultural landmarks, immigrant customs, and the relentless culture clashes - large and small, humorous and dangerous -- that make LA so maddening, so interesting, absurd and so vastly misunderstood.
Like the author herself, Hamilton's protagonist, Eve Diamond, is a journalist. Diamond is an appealing and plucky character with a working class sensibility and a healthy dose of skepticism. Her brashness and vulnerability make her credible. Her observations about her hometown and its inhabitants are funny, intelligent and dead-on. Much of the pleasure in reading this book comes from the delight in accompanying Hamilton's main character as she navigates through a kaleidoscopic landscape rich in tension, vivid characters, suspense, atmosphere, and always, always, freeways.
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I finally gave up half way through.Read more