Double Agent Ma is intent on revenge
An American in Beijing political thriller series set in contemporary China jumps from one side of the country to the other. In the next book of the series, Wounds of Attachment, Mai Martin travels from Sebastopol, California, where she has been stuck for months as the antagonistic forces yank her visa and terminate her employment, to Beijing, where her husband, Rick, is awarded damages for the treatment he suffered last year as a captive of General MA and his para-military gang.
Mai is reunited with her Chinese lover, Ronald Zhao, and the unlikely threesome, including her husband, travels to Xi’an, with the North Koreans on their tail. From there things escalate. Mai returns to Beijing while the weapons of mass destruction are beginning their transit from Pyongyang through Abu Dhabi to Mogadishu.
Born Maia Perizzolo, she shortened her name to Mai legally when she married Rick. Classic Gen-X’er, she was born in 1972 to hippie parents enrolled at Cal Berkeley who then migrated with the back-to-the-land movement to the Northern California idyll of Sonoma County. She grew up in a geodesic dome her parents built from recycled beams and hand-hewed redwood, with solar-powered lights and a composting toilet. The commune was a short drive from Sebastopol up Highway 12 in the Redwoods, called New World Utopia. It attracted dreamy idealists from the city who wanted to get in touch with their inner wa—harmony and peace—with the help of a little LSD, plenty of pot, a couple of hot tubs, and free love.
With both parents Cal alum, she’d had a leg up on getting in, in spite of—or because of—being home-schooled on the commune. Meeting Rick, with his more “normal” childhood and middle-class personality, Mai fled into his world but never lost her Sonoma roots. When the dot-com bust knocked them out of their yuppie fast-track, they packed up computers, painting canvases, mountain bikes, kayak, boxes and boxes of books, and schlepped back to Sonoma.
Mai’s folks had moved on too, transitioning into a local CPA firm servicing the big agriculture families planting grapes and making wine in between the old apple orchards and pot farms. They’d moved into Sebastopol, a trendy, laid back, quintessential Northern California lifestyle community, bought a house in the historic district, leaving behind the old commune and the geodesic home.
Mai and Rick put first and last month’s rent and deposit on a farmhouse in the middle of an orchard. It belonged to one of Mai’s parents’ clients. Mai found a good location in the downtown, a hole in the wall, only twenty feet wide but sixty feet deep, where she opened a web-design business with her friend, Desiree, from the commune days, and put away her paints for a while. It was 2001, and they were starting over at 28 and 30.
What she didn’t yet know was that Rick had started working covertly for Homeland Security after 9/11, the same year they moved.
Purchase Beijing Abduction here.
Contemporary Beijing, including the fictional university built on the grounds of a Qing dynasty palace where Mai Martin works near Wudaokou, the silicon valley of Beijing, and Sanlitun, a trendy neighborhood near the embassy district where poplar trees cast dappled shade upon the wide sidewalks covered with crowds of people hurrying in both directions.
Ch 1 p 41
Looking out the windows at the office or from the flat, the view was the same: tall buildings in the distance smothered in a gray shroud, all familiar features hidden from view.
It's a dismal, freezing morning like all the rest when an email from her lands in his inbox. Eagerly, he read each line and ran her JPEGs through a personal slide show, making Beijing seem less cold and nasty.
The city gradually emptied; the feeling of loneliness was almost unbearable. People queued up for train tickets, cars mobbed the airport lanes. Finally, it's his turn to leave the city.
Ch 2 p 45
Near Lintong, they exit the main highway, taking Shuyuan E toward Lishan Mountain through a high plain region of red clay earth, dotted with farms on both sides. The Brilliances maintain their positions, one in front and one behind. The peasant houses, low squat things huddled in the middle of fields, compete for notice with ancient, unexcavated burial mounds and garden sheds to the hazy, blue horizon.
EXCERPTCh 5 p 141
The long drive from the airport to Pyongyang passes through rolling hills of green, acres upon acres of fruit trees--peaches, apples, plums, cherries. Where the highway jogs and crosses a nameless stream, the minivan shares a wide concrete bridge with people walking, carrying loads on their back, pushing or riding bicycles and pushing or pulling carts.
Ch 7 p 212
Zhujiang River comprises a broad estuary throughout Guangzhou and the surrounding region. The Pearl River is the shelter sought by the fishing boats completing their journey from Somalia a week ago. At 10AM, the captain of the first boat is far off the coast of Viet Nam. A fast moving storm picks it up and propels it forward. The crew covers the hatches, and they hunker down to run with the wind.
The red RAV4 turns off the Inner Ring Road onto Gongye Avenue, continuing south. On the riverbank where the S81 Expressway crosses the river, they turn onto smaller and smaller roads. At the dead end of one of these roads is a cluster of worn metal warehouses. They pull up here and park.
This primitive development is called Jimuzhou. It’s a convenient hutong enclave sheltered by the massive highway S81 bridge posts where it crosses the river. Hidden here, the residents employ their small boats from a shabby dock in the shadow of the super highway.
The scenario is familiar to Jo-Jo, a retired Sea Tiger, with wives in Somalia and Malaysia who speaks Mandarin and Cantonese. He leads the way toward the first warehouse. They enter, and the Shadow Team loses sight of DuLang for a few minutes. The telephoto dash cam, operated by Russ in the front seat, is set to take an image every minute while they wait a half mile away.