The sharper edge to traveling in Asia

WoWasis book review: ‘The Chinaman,’ Vietnam and IRA adventure by Stephen Leather

Written By: herbrunbridge - Feb• 13•13

LeatherChinamanOne of the goodest bad guys in the annals of fiction would have to be Nguyen Ngoc Minh, the protagonist of author Stephen Leather’s The Chinaman (1992, ISBN 978-0340-58025-7). And right, he’s not Chinese, but rather a former Vietnamese military man that ended up in England, running a Chinese food take-out business. Life was good for Minh, his wife, and teen-age daughter until an IRA bomb in London dramatically changed the landscape, leading to warfare pitting one Vietnamese veteran against seemingly the entire Irish Republican Army.

As is the case with Leather’s other novels, the premise isn’t that far-fetched. There aree no holes in this script. Nguyen’s aware that he stands out, particularly in Northern Ireland, where much of the action takes place. His jungle skills are essential to his operations in Irish rural areas, as he infiltrates secret lairs of the IRA and Sinn Fein, its political arm. Leather’s a master of character development, his compelling male characters buffeted by the desires of a couple of intriguing femmes fatales. As the old calypso song by the Duke of Iron goes, “man smart, woman smarter.”

Some of Leather’s best writing concerns Nguyen’s jungle craft in farmlands, displaying the author’s pinpoint accuracy on guerilla fighting and bomb-making details. Not to be overlooked in his fascinating insight into the IRA, especially as it relates to the possibility of a rogue element working without the knowledge of its leadership.

This 400 page thriller can (and will, we predict) be read in a weekend. It’s a difficult to lay aside for a few moments, as its characters beckon the reader to finish this enchanting and intellectually stimulating tale. Highly recommended.  Buy it here at the WoWasis eStore.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.