Whispering Shadows by Jan-Philipp Sendker

Paul Leibovitz was once an ambitious, dedicated father and loving husband. After nearly thirty years in Hong Kong a personal tragedy strikes and Paul’s marriage unravels in the fallout. Paul makes a fleeting connection with Elizabeth, a distressed American woman on the verge of collapse and his life is thrown into turmoil. Less than twenty fours hours later Elizabeth’s son is found dead and Paul, invigorated by a new purpose, sets out to investigate the murder on his own.

Paul eventually seeks the help of a detective friend and the two of them descend deeper into the underworld and find dark secrets hidden beneath China’s booming new wealth. In a country where rich businessmen can corrupt the judicial system, there is unlimited potential for evil.

The book is a combination of crime thriller and romance. The interaction between local and foreigners in the new China is brilliantly captured. I have visited Hong Kong and the book vividly brings to mind the food, the noise and, above all, the humidity. The main themes are friendships, love and trust. Who can Paul trust in the murky world of corrupt officialdom and business? The epilogue consists of a letter from father to son which is very emotional. Paul is giving himself permission to get on with his life without forgetting was has happened in the past.

I understand this book is the first of a trilogy and I am looking forward to reading more Hong Kong adventures. I have also enjoyed the two previous books from this author, which were set in Burma: The Art of Hearing Heartbeats is the first book and its sequel, A Well Tempered Heart. I was expecting more of the same when I bought Whispering Shadows but was pleasantly surprised.

Loved this book and would recommend it and, unlike a lot of crime stories, feel this has a lot for a book group to discuss, and I am thinking particularly of the corruption area and how this would affect a country and its leaders and the knock on effect this would have on trading partners.

Dorothy Flaxman
Personal 5
Group 4

Whispering Shadows by Jan-Philipp Sendker
Polygon pbk Jun 2015

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