This title is part of Robert Yeo’s First Editions, his preloved titles.
This is Rex Shelley’s third novel set in Malaya and Singapore with several Serani, as the Eurasians were known in the pre-World War II days, taking major roles.
It is a tale of love, Chinese secret societies and espionage,
Rex Shelley has stirred up the mixture as before, with the conflicts of choosing between two lovers, of love and loyalty to one’s country, one’s principles, religion, admiration and hate of the colonial British, racial prejudices with the little details of living on the rubber estate, the Eurasians lifestyles, the cheap hotels in the small towns of the Malay States, and the sordid business of brothels.
As in his People of the Pear Tree, he brings in the Japanese viewpoint when the was breaks out, mainly through the eyes of Nakajima-san, an introverted man, an island in the circles he moves in, often alone but always an island in the hub of life around him.
It is a tale of real people going about their simple lives, dealing with officious clerks, difficult uncles, European planters enjoying the sunshine and luxury of the good old days, ordinary people vacillating between the bases of their upbringing and the pulls of the changing world around them, unwillingly sucked into dramas of the underworld of brothels and gangsters of the war.
It is the mixture of spices as before, with the same curry-hot piquancy that leaves a full, rich after-taste.
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