From the bestselling author of The Last Cato comes an addictively entertaining adventure in a land of danger and mystery.
A prim, straitlaced Spanish painter living in Paris, Elvira De Poulain is shocked to hear of her profligate husband’s death and travels to Shanghai to claim his body and put his affairs in order. Overwhelmed by his still-outstanding debts and scandals—adrift in an exotic city teeming with unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells—she discovers a treasure among her late husband’s detritus: a beautifully crafted box holding clues to the location of the remains of China’s First Emperor...and the unimaginable riches buried alongside him.
Joining forces with a colorful Irish journalist, a wily local antiquarian, and a brilliant orphaned servant boy, Elvira is immediately swept up into the adventure of a lifetime. But she and her motley partners are not alone in their quest—and those who pursue them have murdered before, and would murder again, to possess the wealth of an ancient dynasty.
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Matilde Asensi is the author of many internationally bestselling thrillers, including The Last Cato. She lives in Alicante, Spain.
Matilde Asensi, periodista y escritora española, ha publicado varios libros bestsellers, incluyendo su primera novela, El salón de ámbar, que ha sido traducida a varios idiomas, Iacobus que la situó en los primeros puestos de las listas bestsellers y El último catón que la confirmó como la autora de su generación de mayor éxito de crítica y público. Actualmente reside en Alicante, España.From Booklist:
An old-fashioned treasure hunt peppered with brainy challenges, Spanish writer Asensi’s second English-language thriller (The Last Cato, 2006) celebrates China’s multifaceted history and culture. In 1923 expatriate Spanish painter Elvira Aranda leaves France, her teenage niece Fernanda in tow, when word arrives of her husband’s death in Shanghai. Unfortunately, Rémy died horribly in debt, leaving Elvira destitute and in trouble. Then a mysterious chest concealing the location of the First Emperor’s treasure-laden secret tomb propels them on a madcap adventure, accompanied by a crafty antiquarian, an Irish journalist, and a gifted Chinese servant boy. Their grueling, fast-paced quest—thugs from Shanghai’s Mafia pursue them relentlessly—covers miles and centuries. Solving each progressive riddle (and avoiding booby traps) requires knowledge of the game of Go, Taoist philosophy, ancient dynasties, and other obscure, fascinating historical tidbits. Elvira’s unfamiliarity with China renders her a less-than-active intellectual participant, though her determination, sarcastic wit, and growing appreciation for her surroundings brighten her jaunty narrative. Exciting and unabashedly over-the-top, it should inspire readers to do more armchair adventuring in imperial China. --Sarah Johnson
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