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Ghost Month by Ed Lin
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Ghost Month

by Ed Lin

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615296,973 (3.45)None
"August is Ghost Month in Taiwan--a time to commemorate the dead: burn incense, visit shrines, honor ancestors, and avoid unlucky situations, large purchases, and bodies of water. Jing-nan, a young man who runs a food stand in a bustling Taipei night market, doesn't consider himself superstitious, but this August is going to haunt him no matter what he does. He is shocked to the core when he learns his ex-girlfriend from high school has been murdered. She was found scantily clad and shot on the side of a highway where she was selling betel nuts to passing truck drivers. Beyond his harrowing grief for his lost love, Jing-nan is confused by the news. "Betel nut beauties" are usually women in the most desperate of circumstances; the job is almost as taboo as prostitution. But Julia Huang had been the valedictorian of their high school, and the last time Jing-nan spoke to her she was enrolled in NYU's honor program, far away in New York. The facts don't add up. Julia's parents don't think so, either, and the police seem to have closed the case without asking any questions. The Huangs beg Jing-nan to do some investigating on his own--reconnect with old classmates, see if he can learn anything about Julia's life that she might have kept from them. Reluctantly, he agrees, for Julia's sake. But nothing can prepare him for what he learns, or how it will change his life"--… (more)

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Showing 5 of 5
I picked this book up at a library book sale thinking it was going to actually involve ghosts or the supernatural, but it does not. (The sale was crowded, the books not really organized, so I just snatched some things that looked interesting without researching plots)

The edition I picked up was an unedited galley, so I'm not sure how much it changed from the edition I read to the final. I found the story fairly slow moving, bogged down with lengthy asides about Taiwanese culture, especially involving those of native/Chinese/Japanese lineage, which didn't really figure into the mystery at hand: Who murdered Jing-nan's fiance?

The main character's main defining characteristic is that he's been really into Joy Division since discovering them in middle school, and he references this interest a lot, but the music/lyrics/themes from the music or the history of the band also have no bearing on the plot. Basically this author talked about several 'guns on the table', and then left them sitting there. Luckily he doesn't exacerbate this tendency by also making the book lengthy.

It was a meh read, mainly valuable because of what you learn about Taiwan along the way. ( )
  Samberry | Aug 3, 2019 |
More like 2.75 stars. It just doesn't quite make the grade for me, mainly because the main character whines. A lot. Overall, the plot was fairly straightforward - Taiwanese woman gets murdered, old boyfriend needs to know what happened. A few plot twists, but somehow I just don't fall in love with the main character, Jing-nan. I did enjoy, however, the secondary characters who work in the night market with him: Dwayne, Frankie the Cat and his new found love, Nancy. Maybe, I will try the next book in the series. Maybe. Learning a little bit about the history of Taiwan was interesting. ( )
  phoenixcomet | Jun 14, 2017 |
romantic, clunky mystery of Taiwan. Boy met girl. Boy vows. They do love hotel and leave for US colleges. She returns & gets murdered. He returns & cleans pig intestines in food stall that he runs (That's just the first couple of pages). Best parts are of the street gangs, temples, open-air market and the two market helpers (they clean pig intestines too--don't look superior, you eat sausage, don't you?). Also, you get a nice dose of Taiwan history with your spoonful of murder. And a bit about the building boom there. ( )
  kerns222 | Aug 24, 2016 |
A peculiar murder mystery set in Taiwan. The narrator is a mid 20's Taiwan male who owns and works a stall in the night market. His plans to emigrate to the USA and never go back to Taiwan go astray. The mystery moves very slowly and the narrator has an American voice to attract English speaking customers to his grill. He adopts that mode to explain so many aspects of what is happening in the story - the corruption, the real estate development, history of the various peoples in Taiwan - which slows down the action but obviously I would not understand 1% of the story without the explanations. ( )
  joeydag | Jul 23, 2015 |
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Epigraph
There is no crime greater than having too many desires;
There is no disaster greater than not being content;
There is no misfortune greater than being covetous.
-- Tao Te Ching
Dedication
For my parents.
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When I found out the girl I was going to marry had been murdered, I was sitting on a foldout stool at a sidewalk noodle shop in Taipei's Da'an District.
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