Everything was set. Seventeen-year-old Marina Lu had even ordered custom-made gowns for the ten bridesmaids who, in several months' time, would have preceded her down the aisle at her storybook wedding. There isn't going to be a wedding. Marina lies dead, alone in her shiny status car in a suburban shopping center parking lot, her two-carat diamond engagement ring refracting another abruptly shattered Los Angeles dream. Was her death merely a carjacking gone bad? Or is there more to the story? Marina's murder chillingly introduces Los Angeles Times reporter Eve Diamond to a subculture of "parachute kids," the rich Asian teens who are left to their own devices in California while their parents live and work in Hong Kong. Seeking American education and political stability for their children, the affluent parents often leave only an elderly housekeeper in charge of their vulnerable offspring. What was Marina's story? Why was she, at such a young age, marrying twenty-four-year-old Michael Ho? Why is Marina's father, banker Reginald Lu, so reluctant to provide information? As Eve delves deeper into the mysteries surrounding Marina's life and death, she stumbles upon a troubled world of unmoored youth and parental neglect. But Marina, in many ways, would seem to have been among the fortunate. She had money and her parents had power. Eve soon discovers a dramatically more tragic subculture, where destitute young Asian immigrants live in virtual sexual slavery. The story of May-li and her journey from a poor farming home in Fujian, China, to a brothel in Los Angeles is one that Eve will fight to tell and will never forget. A moving, noir-accented crime novel that opens a rare window to an intriguing subject, The Jasmine Trade is a passionate and polished debut from an exciting new author.
Denise Hamilton is a writer-journalist whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Cosmopolitan, and The New York Times and is the author of five acclaimed Eve Diamond crime novels, Prisoner of Memory, Savage Garden, Last Lullaby, Sugar Skull, and The Jasmine Trade, all of which have been Los Angeles Times bestsellers. She is also the editor of and a contributor to the short story anthology Los Angeles Noir, winner of the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association Award for Best Mystery of 2007. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two young children. Visit her at www.denisehamilton.com.
Michael Connelly The Jasmine Trade is more than a good crime story. It is the crime novel as sociological study. Denise Hamilton delivers a gripping narrative with a busload of intriguing characters. And all the while she unflinchingly points her flashlight into one of the dark corners of our world. Read it and learn.
Thomas Perry author of Death BenefitsThe Jasmine Trade is an unusual find: a novel about a young female reporter investigating a crime, written by a female reporter who has covered such crimes, complete with the sights and sounds of L.A. presented unbeautified and unembellished.
Susan Straight author of The Getting Place and Highwire Moon Intricately plotted, breathless in places and achingly bittersweet in others, Denise Hamilton's first novel is a gem. I traveled to places I didn't know at all, in the Asian communities surrounding Los Angeles, and I met people I might never have heard speak if not for her book. It's not just a mystery, it's an entire world laid out in tapestry form.
Terrill Lankford author of the James Ellroy-praised novel Shooters An auspicious debut! Denise Hamilton reports in from the front lines of L.A.'s crime scene and tells it like it is with a detailed sense of place and a rip-roaring sense of pace. The Jasmine Trade is a hell of a book!
T. Jefferson Parker bestselling author of Red Light and Silent JoeThe Jasmine Trade is a strong debut from a good new writer. Actually, Hamilton is an experienced reporter, and her sharp eye, tough mind, and open heart give this novel its credibility, emotion, and compassion. Her look at Chinese-American crime in Southern California is revealing and unsettling.