This week I read the much talked about debut thriller from Lisa Brackmann, Rock Paper Tiger (Soho Press, 2010).
Soho Press has been great to authors who write about China. They’ve published the edgy mysteries by Xiaolong Qiu and Aisling Juan Juan Shen’s riveting memoir, A Tiger’s Heart. And now they have another winner with Lisa Brackmann.
Rock Paper Tiger tells the story of Ellie Cooper, a brash heroine who drinks more than she drugs and swears as often as she opens her mouth. The action starts in the first few pages and doesn’t stop until the end, 345 pages later.
Cooper is an Iraq war vet who moves to Beijing with her loser husband. Married on paper only, Ellie goes her own way and becomes involved in a high-stakes game (both live and virtual) for the capture of a so-called militant Uighur. I’m not usually into sci-fi, but Brackmann’s use of virtual games works well in her novel.
Lisa Brackmann’s treatment of China is detailed to the bone. (She first went to China at the end of the Cultural Revolution.) But what really piqued my interest was her commentary about companies like KBR and Blackwater–they say jump; the US government asks how high.
I read she’s writing another thriller set in Mexico. I can’t wait to read that, but also hope she’ll write another about Ellie Cooper.