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SHOU


by Deborah and Joel Shlian

Writers Club Press
May, 2001
ISBN: 1-583-48759-X

Reviewed by Karen Meek

Working at the Xi'an Institute in China, Dr Cheng has discovered the secret of long life or Shou. Refusing to give details to the authorities, they derive a plan to bring his granddaughter Dr. Lili Quan over from Los Angeles, to force him to reveal his secret.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Lili has no idea she has a grandfather as she was told he was dead. Her mother left China forty years ago and she herself has never been and doesn't speak Chinese. Only when her mother dies and other events go wrong in her life does she take up a recently made offer of a visit to Xi'an Institute.

When Lili reaches China, she deviates from the itinerary set by her hosts until she is detained at a train station. She is made to wait until her escort Chi-Wen arrives. Though they don't get on at first, there is an instant attraction between the two of them. Lili doesn't know that Chi-Wen is working for the authorities and Chi-Wen is reluctant to keep on deceiving Lili about her grandfather being alive.

Dr Cheng's reunion with Lili is short but he's able to tell her the secret of Shou and she escapes with Chi-Wen from the Institute. Not knowing who to trust she has to make a bid for freedom.

There is a lot more going on than described above which makes this into a complicated thriller, however it's a deeper work than that. Set in 1989, the authors have threaded in the politics of the time, which culminated in the Tiananmen Square massacre. Unconsciously almost, the reader absorbs the history and details of life in China and gets to see sights that they have little chance themselves of visiting. All this information is conveyed effortlessly through the writing. SHOU is an excellent example of a book that educates as well as entertains and I highly recommend it.

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