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Beijing Payback
Cover of Beijing Payback
Beijing Payback
A Novel
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"Propulsive. . . . Highly enjoyable. . . . It sets up a sequel, one that I very much look forward to reading." —The New York Times Book Review

A fresh, smart, and fast-paced revenge thriller about a college basketball player who discovers shocking truths about his family in the wake of his father's murder
Victor Li is devastated by his father's murder, and shocked by a confessional letter he finds among his father's things. In it, his father admits that he was never just a restaurateur—in fact he was part of a vast international crime syndicate that formed during China's leanest communist years.

Victor travels to Beijing, where he navigates his father's secret criminal life, confronting decades-old grudges, violent spats, and a shocking new enterprise that the organization wants to undertake. Standing up against it is likely what got his father killed, but Victor remains undeterred. He enlists his growing network of allies and friends to finish what his father started, no matter the costs.

"Propulsive. . . . Highly enjoyable. . . . It sets up a sequel, one that I very much look forward to reading." —The New York Times Book Review

A fresh, smart, and fast-paced revenge thriller about a college basketball player who discovers shocking truths about his family in the wake of his father's murder
Victor Li is devastated by his father's murder, and shocked by a confessional letter he finds among his father's things. In it, his father admits that he was never just a restaurateur—in fact he was part of a vast international crime syndicate that formed during China's leanest communist years.

Victor travels to Beijing, where he navigates his father's secret criminal life, confronting decades-old grudges, violent spats, and a shocking new enterprise that the organization wants to undertake. Standing up against it is likely what got his father killed, but Victor remains undeterred. He enlists his growing network of allies and friends to finish what his father started, no matter the costs.

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About the Author-
  • Daniel Nieh is a Chinese-English translator and professional model. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    February 1, 2019

    The murder of Victor Li's father is shocking enough. Then Victor finds a letter among his father's possessions confessing that he wasn't just a hard-grubbing restaurateur but part of a globe-stretching crime syndicate created during China's hardest times. Eventually, he defied the syndicate, which might explain his death, and Victor determines to take up where his father left off. A debut with a 75,000-copy first printing..

    Copyright 2019 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from May 20, 2019
    College basketball player Victor Li, the narrator of Nieh’s remarkable debut, has little to concern him beyond his next game, until his restaurateur father, Vincent Li, is killed in a burglary at home in L.A. Sun Jianshui, a 30-ish immigrant who was raised by Vincent before he married and left for America, tells Victor that his father was part of a criminal enterprise formed when Vincent was a young man in China in the years after Mao’s death. According to Sun, Vincent was murdered for refusing to import a dangerous product called Ice. A letter from Vincent to Victor that Victor finds among his father’s papers instructs him to accompany Sun to Beijing and destroy the syndicate. The rich cast includes beautiful young courtesans, Chinese thugs, Russian gangsters, French journalists, and corrupt police in Beijing. Nieh, a Chinese-English translator, has a real gift for language; one character has “a voice that sounds the way strawberries taste.” This impressive blend of crime and coming-of-age marks Nieh as a talent to watch. Agent: Bonnie Nadell, Hill Nadell Literary.

  • Kirkus

    May 15, 2019
    After learning that his father's murder was committed not by a burglar, as reported, but by members of a Chinese crime syndicate to which the old man had secret ties, California college senior Victor Li risks his life to find the killers. The kind, upstanding father, Vincent Li, was thought to be the owner of a popular chain of restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley but in fact was only the public face of the Chinese-run operation. Victor has no idea what to make of an attaché case left by his father containing a wad of cash, a fake passport, and a gun. In a letter meant to be read in the event of his death, Vincent explains everything, instructing his son on how to avenge his killing and prevent more deaths. That involves going to Beijing with Vincent's longtime fixer, Sun. In China, the collegian's neophyte nerves are quickly tested by members of the nasty, drug-dealing Snake Hands Gang, a former Russian spy living in exile, and a plot to export stolen human organs to America. It's a perfectly decent story, but for all of the protagonist's f-bombs and a grim account of his paternal grandfather's brutal treatment in Communist labor camps, the book is too lightweight to have any emotional impact. Victor, who narrates, makes much of his life in basketball (he's a bench player on the college team whose much taller black friend Andre brings home the glory), but that adds less dimension than distraction. Nieh's debut novel is likable enough but never as exciting as it tries to be.

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • New York Times Book Review "Propulsive. . . . Highly enjoyable. . . . In the lulls between high-octane fight scenes, Nieh uses the gaps in Victor's fluency to lend realism to the experience of straddling these two worlds. . . . It sets up a sequel, one that I very much look forward to reading."
  • The Oregonian "Nieh, himself the son of a Chinese immigrant, has great fun twisting the trope of the immigrant-parent-with-a-devastating-past in this page turner."
  • BBC.com "Nieh's Victor is witty, passionate, competitive, honorable, and courageous enough to face some of the deadliest players in the Beijing underworld as he confronts his father's past in this superb, sophisticated thriller."
  • Jade Chang, bestselling author of The Wangs vs. the World "Daniel Nieh deftly recasts the immigrant novel as a sharp revenge thriller. The clash between past and present, between the homeland his father escaped and the new home he dreamt up for his family, is richly layered and deeply affecting."
  • Sebastian Rotella, author of Rip Crew "Like his driven, basketball playing, Chinese-American hero, Daniel Nieh has got skills. Full of revenge, treachery, intrigue, and violence, Beijing Payback also tells a compellingly human tale about the ghosts and secrets that haunt the children of immigrants. A strong and entertaining debut."
  • Tod Goldberg, New York Times bestselling author of Gangsterland "Beijing Payback kicks major ass. A fast moving, electric thriller that will remind you why you love the genre. I don't know where Daniel Nieh has been hiding all of these years, but he arrives here fully formed, a writer already at the top of his game."
  • Nicole Mones, author of The Last Chinese Chef and Lost in Translation "Beijing Payback is the best China thriller I've ever seen—a propulsive nail-biter that roars with seamless confidence into a China most Western authors can barely penetrate. Fun, fascinating, insightful, and unforgettable."
  • Library Journal "First-time novelist Nieh is a Chinese-English translator and widely traveled, and his Beijing scenes are gritty and scary. . . . Grabs readers early and doesn't readily let go."
  • Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Remarkable. . . . This impressive blend of crime and coming-of-age marks Nieh as a talent to watch."
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