It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour White Crane Strikes by Ivy Ngeow.
About the Author
Born and raised in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, Ivy Ngeow is the author of three published novels and numerous short stories, one of which has been performed and broadcast on the BBC World Service.
Others have been published in literary journals such as Burning Press, Lunate, Fixi Novo anthology and and also broadsheets like The Straits Times.
Her debut novel won the 2016 International Proverse Prize, and was published in Hong Kong in 2017. She holds an MA from Middlesex University where she was awarded the University’s 2005 Literary Press Prize, an international competition, out of 1500 entrants. Most recently, she was editor of Asian Anthology New Writing Vol.1 which was published in Feb 2022 in London.
Her latest novel was on a longlist of 12 for the 2021 Avons x Mushens Entertainment Prize for commercial fiction by a BAME writer. Ivy is a regular suburban mum who loves dogs, cake and piano-pounding. She lives in London. Follow @ivyngeow on Twitter, on Instagram @ivyngeow, on Facebook ivyngeowwriter
About the book
An enormous mansion. A Chinese restaurant. A baby on the way. Handyman Jerome “Jay Jay” Lee has landed a dream job. An underground tong seems to think so too.
Chicago, 1971. Jay Jay’s girlfriend wants a big knock-’em-dead wedding and a new bigger apartment with the whole ball of wax. Grateful when her art world schmoozing lands him a fixer-upper gig for a wealthy arts patron, he has no idea about the sleeping dragon he’s about to wake.
His boss gets him a Chinatown side hustle, and Jay Jay looks the other way when he overhears an organized crime conversation for fear of losing the much-needed extra income and takeout treats. But when the Chinese restaurant manager vanishes, Jay Jay is trapped in threatening tong talk and the chow is now no fun. His family is now deep in hot soup. Will Jay Jay be able to save them before he’s crispier than a burnt wonton?
White Crane Strikes is a standalone. Fans of Lehane, Ovidia Yu and Naomi Hirahara, who like compelling characters, stirring settings and surprising twists, will love this smart and witty thriller.
Jay is a bit here and there, but he is determined to do well for himself and his loved ones. Part of that is being responsible and getting a job, which is how he ends up being hired to rejuvenate an old mansion, the surrounding buildings and the extensive grounds. Not only does he get the job – it is also the beginning of both a mystery and a thriller that is built around it.
What I enjoyed the most about the story was the relationship, dialogue and interactions between Jay and his employer. The actions, reactions and choices Jay makes are often determined by his cultural background, his upbringing and his past experiences The same can be said about the way he interacts with his world in general. The need to succeed, whilst wanting to prove himself, and subconsciously looking for approval from what he perhaps perceives as a father figure.
There was a lot going on, and the plot went off in plenty of different directions, however the author does bring it all back together in the end. Personally I thought the plot surrounding Jay and Mr Alfred, and the discovery Jay makes, would have given enough fodder for a fascinating read. The author has a very specific voice when it comes to writing – I look forward to seeing how it evolves going forward.