Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for this review.
Building on the events of the previous novella, Thorn of the Night Blossoms, this instalment does an admirable job of expanding the world the author has created as well as deepening the characters and the central mystery they find themselves caught up in. Like with the best mysteries, although some questions from the previous volume are answered, the answers we are given only serve to introduce more questions which will no doubt lead into the next story.
Although Jie is given less page-time than in Thorn, she is still the core of the story. She is determined to get answers, even if it means returning to places that hold bad memories for her. It's obvious that while she has healed physically from previous events, she still carries some doubts about her judgement, something that causes her as much harm as good. Her chapters tend to be more action-oriented, whether it be tailing a character through the streets mainly by smell or infiltrating a drug den and interrogating its boss, but they also serve to keep the plot moving forward and give an overview of their investigation.
In addition to continuing Jie's story, we also get a new viewpoint character in Zheng Tian. His character can be equal parts fascinating and frustrating. Obviously intelligent, he seems to be capable of feats of memory and seeing patterns in events with little or no preparation. At the same time, he seems to have virtually no sense of guile and a tendency to blurt out things he’s focused on, something that becomes a liability more than once. His help is invaluable to Jie in putting pieces of the mystery together but his naivety and lack of deception do cause problems for them.
Like the previous instalment, this is a fast-paced read with a nicely twisting plot and one that will keep the reader wanting to know more.
4 out of 5 opera masks.