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Hong Kong
By Stephen Coonts

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Hong Kong
By Stephen Coonts
Charnwood Large Print Edition, (2002)
ISBN: 0-7089-9335-4
Genre: Suspense, Thriller

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - December 29, 2002

Ostensibly, Admiral Jake Grafton is only in Hong Kong because his wife, Callie, had been invited to teach a course in Western Culture to Chinese students there. However, where Grafton is concerned, appearances are often deceiving, and this case is no exception.

Harold Barnes, a CIA agent in Hong Kong has recently been killed after planting a bug in the office of China Bob Chan, who was himself killed shortly after the bug was planted. No one was really surprised that China Bob had been murdered, nor was his passing mourned. China Bob had a lot of enemies, in part because he had a finger in everything from trafficking in drugs to refugees. Consequently, a premature death was an occupation hazard. What did concern people though, was who might have killed him - and what their motivation was, and did China Bob's killer also have a hand in the death of Barnes. The list of suspects for China Bob's death was long, and included such notables as the US Consul General in Hong Kong to Kerry Kent, an agent with the British Secret Intelligence Service. To complicate matter, The U.S. is aware that "something" is going on in Hong Kong, beyond these murders, and some think that Virgil 'Tiger' Cole, the US Consul-General might be involved.

Someone needed to go to Hong Kong and sort out the 'mess' that seemed to be brewing. Grafton was a natural choice to head the investigation in Hong Kong. Not only was he noted for doing the right thing, no matter what repercussions there might be, but he also flew with Cole in Vietnam. Additionally, Callie's teaching job gave Grafton the perfect cover with which to enter Hong Kong without raising the suspicions of the Chinese communist.

What Grafton uncovers in Hong Kong sends shivers down his spine. Cole is involved with "The Scarlet Team" a group bent upon overthrowing the Chinese government. As Grafton digs deeper into the growing conspiracy, he finds that not only must he try to protect the interests of his country, but also of his wife.

Grafton is aided in his investigation by his wife, who speaks Chinese, and by Tommy Carmellini, a former thief who is now a CIA agent. When Callie is kidnaped, along with Wu the leader of the revolutionary movement, Tommy joins Grafton in a no holds barred search and destroy mission to rescue Callie before she is killed by her kidnappers. Callie had been trying to translate the recording of a conversation picked up by the bug planted in China Bob office. A conversation that might just reveal who his murderer was, and Grafton fears that Callie's kidnaping is related to whatever is on the tape.

During their investigation, Grafton and Carmellini are faced with a host of problems ranging from irate mobsters to moles at the consulate. As a result they find that they cannot trust anyone - not even the supposed good guys. In addition, they have to work in an environment where 'all hell' is about to break loose. The banks in Hong Kong are closing their doors and spontaneous protests keep popping up. Many of these protests are met by excessive force from the communist government who is unable to tolerate any dissent which only fuels the peoples anger.

Hong Kong is another excellent book by Stephen Coonts. The plot is complex, the characters are true to life, and the story is spiced with lots of action and intrigue. In addition to the main characters, Coonts has taken pains to ensure that the supporting characters, such as Rip Buckingham, the Australian born editor of the China Post, is just as well fleshed out as Grafton and Carmellini.

For fans of Coonts and Grafton, as well as anyone looking for a suspense tale to read, this book is a must. The action in this book is fast paced, the writing energetic, and the story is well told. A real winner from beginning to end!

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