Ghost Month (A Taipei Night Market Novel)
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Welcome to Unknown Pleasures, a food stand in Taipei's night market named after a Joy Division album, and also the location for a big-hearted new mystery set in the often undocumented Taiwan.
August is Ghost Month in Taiwan—a time to pay respects to the dead and avoid unlucky omens. Jing-nan, who runs a food stand in a bustling Taipei night market, isn’t superstitious, but this August will haunt him. He learns that his high school sweetheart has been murdered—found scantily clad near a highway where she was selling betel nuts. “Betel nut beauties” are typically women in desperate circumstances, but Julia Huang was high school valedictorian, and the last time Jing-nan spoke to her, she was far away, happily enrolled in NYU’s honor program. The facts don’t add up. Julia’s parents don’t think so, either, but the police seem to have closed the case without asking any questions. The Huangs beg Jing-nan to do some investigating, but nothing can prepare him for what he is about to learn, or how it will change his life.
political party that lost the Chinese Civil War and still claims it is the legitimate ruler of not only Taiwan, but its definition of China, which includes Mongolia and Tibet. The KMT was in power in Taiwan from 1945 until 2000. That was when the DPP, or Democratic Progressive Party, which is mostly backed by yams, won the presidential election. The DPP is known for seeing Taiwan as an independent country from China, and the eight years the party held office were the most combative with the
to go down that great path alone … “JING-NAN,” SAID MRS. HUANG. I had been mumbling to myself out loud. Mr. Huang was bringing in people I didn’t know. Mrs. Huang stood over me and touched my shoulder gently. Time for me to go. “You loved each other so much,” she sobbed. I could only nod as I rose to my feet. “Go talk to them, your old classmates. Find out if they talked to Julia when she came back.” “I’ll find out what I can,” I said. I RODE THE ELEVATOR down and hit the ground floor with
husband, “but do you think we’re safe here? What if the liumangs come back?” “It’s no problem,” said Kuilan as she also took up a cleaver. There was no such thing as having too many chives. “The whole thing started somewhere else, and they just happened to run here. Nothing to worry about.” “Well,” I said, “I’d better get back to the stand before Dwayne kills me.” Jenny muttered to me, “This cop was sent to hush things up, not to figure out what happened.” “Seems like it. What a fucking
statue, so I headed northwest to the giant lotus pond. I leaned against the railing and listened to hidden insects make whirring sounds. The egrets seemed to be out to lunch. I looked over the floating green muck and found a group of turtles doing nothing. It seemed to be a life free of worries. To my left, three older men in baggy slacks sprawled on top of a bench, mirroring the turtles in the pond. They spoke in a Chinese dialect I didn’t know. Maybe they were soldiers who’d been stranded in
stall, and then I could pay off the debt and fly back to Los Angeles. The recession killed that plan, though. I never heard from Julia when my parents passed away, even though she must have known. I admired her discipline and how she could stick to a promise. Sometimes I was angry she hadn’t broken down and called me, but I always loved her for it. Every day I didn’t hear from her meant we still had a chance. Why did we want to be Americans so badly? We were both smart and ambitious. Not that