Created by Chan Ho-Kei
When her fifteen-year-old kid sister, schoolgirl Siu-Man, takes a header off the twenty-second floor of her Hong Kong apartment building, older sis and librarian Nga-Yee has nobody to turn to–her parents are dead, and the police have ruled it suicide.
So she contacts the eccentric, enigmatic hacker and cybersecurity expert known only as N , hoping he’ll take the case, in the highly anticipated standalone, Second Sister (2020) by Hong Kong author Chan Ho-Kei.
N, it turns out, is a piece of work. He’s not particularly keen on personal hygiene, and his apartment is a pig sty. He’s also a rude asshole, and he may just have an agenda or two of his own. He’s a manipulative puppet master who’s adept at yanking people’s strings, but he soon discovers that Siu-Man may have been the target of a particularly vicious smear campaign that goes far beyond some high school cyberbullying.
The novel’s a beast that tears into the guts of Hong Kong’s (and our) current malaise, as N sticks his nose into a far-reaching morass of greed, vengeance, ruthless competition and violence that encompasses everything from subway perverts and high school mean girls to American venture capitalists and Triad gangsters, and dares to ask hard questions about the real human cost of our digital obsessions and selfishness, to the point that the actual plot is sometimes in danger of being swamped by Ho-Kei’s running commentary.
But the author is definitely one to watch. Hong Kong’s Chan Ho-Kei has been a software engineer, script writer, game designer and comic book editor. His writing career took off with the short story “The Murder Case of Jack and the Beanstalk,” which was shortlisted for the Mystery Writers of Taiwan Award, which he won the next year with “The Locked Room of Bluebeard.” Chan’s first novel, The Man Who Sold the World, won the Soji Shimada Mystery Award, the biggest mystery award in the Chinese-language world, and 2014’s The Borrowed (which immediately preceded Second Sister) was one of the most acclaimed international crime novels of recent years, a sweeping saga of power, corruption, and the law that spanned five decades of the history of Hong Kong. So there’s a lot of buzz about this one.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.