I have been waiting for what seems like forever to read the latest Ellie McEnroe thriller–Lisa Brackmann’s Dragon Day (Soho Crime, 2015). And this week it not only came out, but I also read it.
So what’s so special about Lisa Brackmann’s Ellie McEnroe series? I was first hooked by her debut novel, Rock Paper Tiger (Soho Crime, 2010), which has been re-released in paperback this year with a fabulous new cover.
Ellie McEnroe is a twenty-something Iraq War vet who has fallen on hard times and finds herself in Beijing. She’s a beer-drinking, pill-popping, badass who suffers from PTSD. In all three books, including the second one, Hour of the Rat, Ellie finds herself at the middle of a murder mystery in China. With no one to look out for her except herself, she must use every survival tactic she has to save her life. Along the way, she also solves the crime at hand.
In Dragon Day, Ellie is involved with a strong, silent member of the Chinese secret police all while still having feelings for a Chinese artist dissident who has been MIA since Hour of the Rat. Because of her involvement with the dissident, she’s become an art dealer and confidante of the mega rich in Shanghai and Beijing.
After a crazy rich party, a waitress is found dead in the garbage the next day. Ellie has worked on some art acquisitions with the father of the party’s host. In fact, the elder Mr. Cao has asked Ellie to keep tabs on his other son. Besides these two sons, Mr. Cao also has an intriguing daughter who dresses in men’s clothes.
As Ellie investigates the murder with the help of her secret police guy, a female friend of the younger Cao son also shows up dead at an artists’ colony.
The story is thrilling and flips between the fancy worlds of Beijing and Shanghai. Just as in Hour of the Rat, Ellie’s mother is a fabulous supporting character who has moved to Beijing to live with her daughter.
As I neared the end, I wondered how Lisa Brackmann would tie up several loose ends, but it’s all explained by the last few pages. As Ellie leaves Beijing for the magical city of Yangshuo down south, I wonder what will happen next.