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Saturday 15 November 2014

‘Emperors Once More’ by Duncan Jepson

 Published by Quercus,
13 March 2014.
ISBN: 978-1-78206-800-6

We are in Hongkong in 2017.  In this near future the premise is that a crisis summit for world leaders is held after China has bailed out a bankrupt Europe. We are experiencing a future history  but since it is so near the variance is limited.  Duncan Jepson is able to refer to events of the early 21st century to support his arguments.  Hongkong is described as anyone who had been there would recognise but with the twist that all business has gone into China leaving the wealthy on the Peak but the rest of the city fairly empty and many people jobless.  Detective Inspector Alex Soong is on a stakeout during a typhoon as the story begins.  The story moves fast and furiously around the city.  Alex, although he has been in Hongkong for several years, is an outsider in that he is a Mainland Chinese and has a prestigious father and grandfather and a wife from a wealthy family.
The apparently motiveless murder of 2 Chinese Methodist ministers start a maelstrom of events which Alex is eventually able to link to a particular rising in late 19th Chinese history.  The anti-Western attitudes by some in  China are expressed in the comment.  "The white man took everything.  We got his opium, his religion and his magical ideas called science."

This is a clever thriller written by someone with excellent experience of Hongkong and a thorough knowledge of Chinese history.  I really enjoyed the story and the depth of the background history enriches it.  Some arguments between characters in the story enable a good airing of the issues of past and present.  I think that the clarity of the author on China would make the tale accessible even to those without much knowledge of Chinese history.
Reviewer: Jennifer S Palmer
Duncan Jepson has written a novel, directed films, edited magazines and writes regularly on Asia for papers like the New York Times.  This book is described as the first in a crime series

Duncan Jepson is the award-winning director and producer of five feature films. He has also produced documentaries for Discovery Channel Asia and National Geographic Channel. He was the editor of the Asia-based fashion magazine West East and is a founder and managing editor of the Asia Literary Review.
A lawyer by profession, he lives in Hong Kong.


Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.

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