|Will Sears is
a small-time financial consultant in Hong Kong who has innocently
helped Ronnie Pak to launder the profits from trafficking in heroin.
When Pak is arrested, Sears agrees to give his computer records on the
Pak family businesses to the police. The disks, along with all his
business files, disappear before he can deliver them.
With his business and personal life in ruins, and
fearing retribution from the Pak family, Sears hides out on Cheung
Chau, one of Hong Kong's outlying islands, under nominal police
Sears, almost penniless, stays at a deserted villa,
and spends his days on the Praya with an assortment of eccentrics –
the Dog Fanciers' Society. On Cheung Chau Sears stumbles on a bizarre
heroin smuggling operation, and fears ever more for his safety from
gangsters and corrupt police.
There is only one book set in Hong Kong that is
worth reading for its literary merit: The World of Suzie Wong,
a book that concentrates on relationships and ignores the cliches.
Until now, that is. For Alan B Pierce, with Cheung Chau Dog
Fanciers' Society, has done much the same.
The writing is clear and
smooth, the locations an acceptable blend of reality and imagination,
the plot plausible and the narrator neatly pathetic but lovable. The
book never tries to get on any tourist guide of recommended reading,
but simply tries to tell a story, and works all the better for it. I
don't want to go overboard, but this is one of the best Hong Kong
novels ever written. It puts James Clavell to shame.
HK Magazine, Metro Radio
"Alan Pierce's Cheung Chau Dog Fanciers' Society
is a rare read indeed. Not only is it an accurate slice of Hong Kong
life – touching on heroin smuggling, money laundering, corruption in
the police force and in the ICAC (Independent Commission Against
Corruption) as well as in one of Hong Kong's most wealthy and powerful
Chinese families – but it also depicts a very local journey of
"It's a journey that, as the title suggests, takes
place on the bell-shaped outlying island of Cheung Chau. The superb
description of insular life – complete with beery expatriates,
ploddish village policemen, arm-wrestling triads and masses of
rucksack-carrying day-trippers – takes place against a backdrop of
gossip, rumours and folklore.
"Although Pierce said the plot "just happened", the
characters are very close to home. The Cheung Chau characters, says
Pierce, come from his Cheung Chau memories. The expatriate police and
ICAC officers – both straight and bent – come from his years with the
Attorney General's Department.
"A thriller with a
"A pioneer, a groundbreaker...a real book. A writer
[about Hong Kong] who actually wants to be someone other than James
Clavell circa 1980. The book could be filed as an above-average crime
novel, but that would not be doing justice to the potent depictions of
island low-life that suffuse many of its pages. The Praya, the
slaughtered pigs, the crummy caffs, the ferry, the Sino-Spanish
villas, the ruined tar-soaked beaches – it's all there in 227
"In precis, the thriller aspect of the book deals
with the laundering of drug money. Will, the victim of a frame-up, has
his flat and company seized under harsh laws governing the freezing of
drug assets, or anything suspected of being such. His downhill slide
into personal and financial ruin begins from there.
"Here is the rub: back in
legal life, Pierce actually drafted the very legislation that sends
his character's life into a tailspin. This, in other words, is a book
by a lawyer about the possible misapplications of a law which he
himself drafted. How is that for planes of meaning?"
"This is the kind of book that expatriate
journalists and the other bohemian types who live on Hong Kong's
outlying islands talk about writing while ordering another San Miguel
at Charley's. [It] has most of the usual "Hong Kong novel" stuff:
drugs, triads, seductive oriental women, even a typhoon, but it has
something that most of them lack – humour.
"Will Sears, a hard-working investment consultant,
is living an orderly life, moving between his small office and an
apartment in Mid-Levels. Unfortunately his most important client has
attracted the attention of the authorities. Drugs, prostitution, you
name it, Ronnie Pak probably did it, and the police assume he got some
"The hapless Sears comes under investigation for
money laundering, his accounts are frozen, his business virtually
wiped out. In search of peace of mind, he ends up on Cheung Chau, the
dumbbell-shaped island southwest of Hong Kong. There he falls in with
the Dog Fanciers' Society, a colourful collection of eccentrics,
drunkards and drifters.
"Pierce is not going to
muscle John Grisham off the bestseller lists, but he clearly knows the
island's colour and lore. And his 13 years' experience working in the
Attorney General's Department adds authenticity to his descriptions of
money laundering schemes. This book must have been fun to write,
because it is fun to read."
"The novel breathes fresh life into the island of
Cheung Chau, a world apart from the financial halls of Central and the
superior flats of the Peak.
"There are too few good
novels set in Hong Kong's modern era. This is one of the better ones,
with Pierce at his best when writing from the heart about the texture
of life in a special place."
South China Morning Post
Copyright © Alan B