Tonight, I’ve finished reading Michael Connelly’s “Nine Dragons” (0ct. 2009, 1st Edition by Little, Brown and Company). I thought about reading this novel for a long time mainly because it includes Hong Kong (HK) in the novel (as “Nine Dragons” is Kowloom/九龍). I finally picked it up 3/4 days ago, in the last week before I went to visit HK and Asia this year.
The story in the middle in HK was very tense and I couldn’t put the book down. The endings have a few surprising twists. It’s technically probably very good. But I strongly find the author not having a heart but just manipulating every piece to materialize his plots.
I suddenly felt that I could see what kind of a person that a author is from their books. Connelly just manipulates people’s life and death coldly in order to get to the outcomes that he intends. He certainly doesn’t have a soft spot for the Hong Kong folks and the way that he describes Li’s family at the end of the novel is very dark. Maybe, it’s typical of American (or western ?) authors depicting Asians like that. I mean, if it were me, I naturally wouldn’t like to depict my Hong Kong characters like that (in my virtual novel).
But then, I realized that many authors did the same thing. I was disgusted by what Jody Picoult did at the end of “Handle with care”. 張小嫻 seems to like to create miserable and sad endings in her novels. Apart from technical reasons, to some extents, it probably reflects on what kind of person she is in real life. 亦舒 seldom writes very sad endings these days and I speculate that it tells us more or less what her mind is these days. I mean, she probably doesn’t bear making her characters suffer from miserable endings. Maybe, I’m wrong but this is like a sudden “epiphany” and it’s certainly very subjective.
I don’t like Harry Bosch leaving his Eleanor Wish “behind” just like that. The father and the daughter could just go without the mother, just like that. Maybe, technically it’s the right thing to do but I feel the lack of some sorts of natural sadness after losing a loved one. What we’ve found out about the truth of what the daughter has done is also terrible. But the author just lets the daughter gets away with it, just like that. Emotionally, it just makes feel unreasonable and it’s just some maneuver that the author needs to have to make us surprise. But it just doesn’t feel right/good.
I don’t always approve the details in Hong Kong. So, many taxi drivers in Hong Kong are in triads ?! And the American lawyers are so smart that Bosch could get away with so many deaths in Hong Kong just like that. The Hong Kong Police were so stupid and easily intimidated.
Another feature that the novel (or the author) seems to have is that a lot of acronyms have been used to such an extent that I often have a hard time guessing what they mean. Sometimes something like “DL” was never explained and one has to realize that it means “Drivers’ License”. But, eg., in p. 4, the name “Police Administration Building” appears for the 1st time. The author doesn’t bother to include something like “(PAB)” next to this new name. Then, in p. 23, the acronym PAB suddenly appears without warning. I’ve had hard time in figuring out what “PAB” is !
In p.81, though the meanings are translated correctly, the transliteration for the characters mentioned in the novel 运气 as ‘Fu’ and 家庭 and ‘Xi’ are clearly wrong. There are two characters in each case and can’t be pronounced by one syllable in whatever Chinese dialects/languages.