Similar to another audio book, I just heard (The Ghost War, by Alex Berenson), this is a twelve disc audio book with a wonderful reader who has mastered accents and inflection so that the book keeps you on the edge of your seat and alert as you drive!
From a child’s kidnapping to foreign intrigue about a new scientific discovery, this book is filled with excitement. There are so many sub plots, but underneath them all there is the additional plot of several competing leaders in China, each of whom wishes to take over the government. Russia and the United States are involved in the intrigue, with each employing agents who may not be all that scrupulous.
Murder is simply a means to an end, viewed almost casually. Torture is acceptable in the Asian prisons. Maoists and Liberationists go head to head in their fight to take over the government and in the background, the “Ba” and the Eunochs also vie for power, aligning themselves with competing, powerful people. The "double cross" is routine, as ethical behavior is not of the slightest concern. The winner will determine whether or not China becomes a threat to, or a peaceful participant in, world affairs.
Underlying all of the varied sub-plots and side issues, is the theme of an undying source of energy, for which all three countries are searching; the key to its secret existence is thought to be hidden in China. Often the bad guy wins. China, as well as Russia, is a country with vastly different rules than the United States, and their tactics are sometimes appalling as are those of their agents. However, none of the participating countries is guiltless when it comes to reprehensible behavior. Greed and the desire for power appears to be the driving force and in its wake, valuable antiquities are destroyed and people are sacrificed with little or no reason other than expedience rather than justice.
This book is action packed; undercover agents and double agents go head to head. They sneak in and out of several countries to search for answers, often with violent outcomes. There is an abundance of characters, which sometimes makes it a little hard to figure out which one is being featured. There is definitely murder and mayhem and while the book may not keep you guessing, it will certainly keep you interested for many hours. It is worth the “road trip.