It's neo-noir and headline-fresh, complete with messed-up war veteran heroine. Adrift in post-Olympics Beijing, running from a failed marriage and on painkillers for an injury sustained as a National Guard medic in Iraq, 26-year-old Ellie McEnroe waits tables in an expat bar and hangs with the Beijing art scene. A casual friendship with a Chinese artist lands her in a world of trouble involving a mysterious Uighur, contract American security agents, and a WOW-like online game, Sword of Ill Repute.
Brackmann has a power of description for 21st century urban life that reminds me of William Gibson's Pattern Recognition.
A noir-ish exchange:
John brushes a stray hunk of hair off my face.
"So, Trey, he does not work for American government."
"Big corporation." I laugh. "What's the difference?"
John nods sagely. "You know, here in China, PLA, Peoples' Liberation Army, owns many businesses. They hide this better now than before, but still it is this way. So maybe this is somewhat the same as America."
This irritates me, and I'm not sure why. "It's the other way around in America," I tell him. "Companies own the Army. They send us where they want us to go. To do their shit for them. So they can get rich."
"Ah. I see. So you are in the Army, Yili?"
"I don't wanna talk about it."
"Why not? It can be good to talk, I think."
"No. It's not."We may see the movie for this one.