This novel, which happens to be my first in the english language, is set in the pre-Expo and Pre Olympics Bejing of the early 2000s.
Its is a noir story, featuring a white ex-patriot „laowai“ Detective, who is living the self aware cliché lifestyle including coat and hat and styles himself „the finder“.
the Story begins with an even more cliché Contract, where a rich and beautiful chinese Lady of certain grandeur offers quite a lot of money if he would track down her Muse.
The Muse turns out to be a young girl, probably a runaway, who came to Shanghai searching her liberty and a fulfilment of her naive dreams to become a published writer and to start her own business.
It becomes clear within the first chapters of the search, that it will bring the protagonist to the darker corners of the ever-present and ever illegal prostitution and into contact with the chinese versions of Pimops, outcasts, mobsters, drugs, gangs, and conspiracy.
Mr Finder meets all kinds of dodgy contemporary shanghainese characters.
And from behins the scenes, a Dark Group emerges in the shadows, ridden by themes from the Chinese mythology and philosophy, calling thenmselves “the circle”, they seem to be his adversary. Until, despite his best efforts at staying rational, he believes himself to be attacked by something supernatural, and the strange list of characters he meets gets added to by stereotypes and storybook characters, all to fitting for his own taste into some illusive tale from the 20th, and in the end he can duly question, if his meeting with the spirit of shanghai was in the flesh, or just his own personal trip.
All the while, the poetry of the muse and the very real demons of his failed love-live and past keep him company as a kind of off stage soundtrack, he gradually, over the course of the story, and the things her poetry seems to speak from his soul, he falls in love with his target and comes to her rescue at last, facing his adversaries and his fears and his failures? But does she really need rescuing, or did he simply fall for a trap of his own, bright but brittle mind?