Monday, June 8, 2020

Great Summer Reads Countdown Blitz: The Travelers' Tale by David Harris Lang

David Harris Lang writes adventure thrillers set in Asia. 

He has lived and worked most of his life in various countries throughout the Asian region, and his writing is informed by his love and knowledge of the different cultures, foods, thought, and architecture of the different regions of Asia.

 ~ Website ~


Four Irish Travelers from gypsy families journey to Western China to find the 3,000-year old mummified and bejewelled head of their Celtic ancestor. With a psychotic Japanese woman with Yakuza connections as their guide, their odyssey takes them to the Taklamakan Desert of Western China. 

When one of the Travelers is found dead of unknown causes in an obscure Hong Kong museum, finding the killer becomes one of the most challenging cases for Hong Kong homicide detectives Angela Cheung and Ian Hamilton as they match wits with the Russian mob, a Nigerian art smuggler, the Yakuza, and a murderous bare knuckle boxer.

~ Universal Amazon Link


Clad in a black dress that stopped just below her knees and wicked-witch-of-the-west shoes, Murasaki knocked on the door of the Travelers’ Sham Shui Po apartment. Two Japanese men in rumpled blue suits flanked her. One carried a camera and the other a long, rolled tube with a metal folding stand. Jimmy answered the door.
“What’s with the two gooks, Murasaki?” Jimmy asked.
“These men make passports. Where you think William-san can go with no passport and visa? He is fugitive, nei?” she said pushing by Jimmy. “What you mean by ‘gooks’?”
The man with the stand went to the center of the living room. He attached the tube to the top of the frame and unfurled a blue vinyl background sheet.
“William-san, you get picture taken,” Murasaki said. “You also need to pick new name. Police will be looking for William Maguire. What you want for new name?” she asked.
“How ‘bout Flash McFlynn,” William said grinning. “Flash McFlynn, international outlaw.”
“How ‘bout Flash McAsshole,” Jimmy ventured. “International wanker.”
“No time joking. Whatever name you decide, you write down and give to Takahashi-san,” Murasaki said pointing to the man with the camera. “Three days from now you will have new passport and China visa.”
“So in three days we are leaving Hong Kong for Mainland China?” Margaret asked.
“Once we all have visas and McAsshole-san has new passport, yes, we ready to go,” Murasaki said.
“That’s McFlynn, not McAsshole,” William corrected. “By the way, how long is the flight?”
“Good point,” Jimmy said. “What are we going to do about William’s claustrophobic reaction to flying?”
“No worry this time,” Murasaki said. “It eight hours from Hong Kong to Urumqi, with two hour stop in Xi’an to change airplane. I got a sedative for McAsshole-san. I inject him, he will be sleeping like a hibernating black bear.”
“OK, cut the shite with the McAsshole-san! It’s not funny,” William pouted. “It’s McFlynn, got it? And nobody’s injecting me with anything!”
Clovis asked, “So your art dealer friend knows where the head is, right Murasaki?”
“I think so... maybe... sure,” Murasaki said.
“Maybe? It’s ‘maybe’ now?” Margaret exclaimed jumping up from the couch. “You said that he knew where it was!”
“Well, yeah...he emailed me that he knows location. But he is...what is the word in English? Delusional. Yes, that the right word. He is delusional. He lies and then believes it himself,” Murasaki answered. With a shrug and a half-smile, she added, “Strange guy, nei?”
“Are you kidding us? Delusional? We are on this crazy, bogtrottin’ escapade and you only think that your friend knows where the head is?” Clovis exploded, now also standing. “Who is your friend anyway? Come clean with us, Murasaki!”
“Relax, Clovis-san,” Murasaki said, indicating with her waving hand that he and Margaret should sit down. “My friend’s name is Sunday Babatunde. You will like him. He is originally from Nigeria, but many years he live in New York City. He graduated from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn with a master’s degree in art history. Then he went to China, been there until now.”
“A Nigerian! Oh, Jaysus,” William said. “Those are the guys that run those email scams, right? We’re fecked!”
“Not scam,” Murasaki said. “I met Sunday in Hong Kong long time ago. He told me about the mummies in China. It gave me idea for my book. He helped me. Took me to China for researching.”
“Do you trust him, Murasaki?” Margaret asked.
Murasaki shrugged, and then said, “No.”
“I knew this was completely off the nut!” Jimmy exclaimed. He fell in behind Margaret, tracing her steps, brother and sister pacing together. “What a feckin’ plonker’s adventure! I could be back in Sheffield eating a meat pie instead of wasting me time on this crazy trip!” Jimmy started to clench and unclench his fists. “Are you sure that the head is in Western China, Murasaki?”
Muraski said, “No, I just sure that Sunday-san is in Western China. Head could be anyplace in world, nei? But you want head you need to take risk. Or you want to sit on ass in Sheffield eating meat pie?”
“She’s right,” Clovis said. “I could be back in England fighting pissed-up Travelers for chicken scratch, but the truth is I’d rather be here fighting serious fighters for decent poke.”
Margaret stopped pacing, put her hands on her hips. “I feel like I’ve been had. Give us some assurances, Murasaki. When you did your book research what evidence did you uncover that proved the head’s existence?”
“Sunday tell me about it. He very smart man,” Murasaki said.
Margaret took three stamping steps backward. “What? Your research consisted of listening to the tales of a delusional Nigerian art history student? You are feckin’ kidding me!”
Murasaki eyes locked on to Margaret’s. “So sorry you no have faith in me, you ridiculous gaijin! Either believe me or no believe me! If no believe me, you can all go to hell!”
“Do you blame us, Murasaki?” Margaret said. “You can understand our shock. We were following a dream that we thought was a fact, and now we learn that it is only conjecture. I mean, I read about it in your book. Your book was a textbook, right, not fiction?”
“Hmmph,” Murasaki snorted. “I wanted to write book, not waste a lot of time doing stupid research.”
“How did you meet this Nigerian guy to begin with?” Jimmy asked. “It comes down to him in the end, doesn’t it? True story or bull?”
“I met him when he was studying at Saint John’s Cathedral in Hong Kong for his ordination to be a priest,” Murasaki said. She walked over to a chair and sat down. “He became priest so they would let him out of prison early.”
“This story gets better all the time, doesn’t it, Murasaki?” Clovis said.
Murasaki ignored the sarcasm. “Once he became a priest he went back to China. Started a sanctuary in a cave. Named it ‘The International Awakening Ministry’. He gave himself the title of Master Evangelical Redeemer. Many young people come and live there in cave to find awakening and do party. Meanwhile Sunday-san still do excavation finding mummies and Buddhist art, which he sells.”
“So, Sunday is a major scammer. We get it, Murasaki,” Margaret said. “Tell us more.”
“You walk about a kilometer through Sunday-san’s cave and come to a large courtyard, big as Tokyo Stadium almost. It is open to sky and enclosed by cliffs. In the cliffs, there are many tiny caves that Buddhists had dug in ancient times to live in. Sunday-san’s disciples live in the caves.”
“He has disciples, like those evangelical priestophiles on TV?” Clovis asked.
“What is priestophiles on TV?” Murasaki asked. “You talking makes no sense.”
“Living in caves? That sounds even worse than this Sham Shui Po ghetto apartment,” William commented.
“No, William-san. It is very nice place. In center of courtyard is a natural pool. It an oasis, many palm trees and fruit trees. Everyone calls it ‘Paradise’. I lived in caves for six months. I was only going to stay a week, but once you in Paradise it is hard to leave.”
“Murasaki, be straight with us. Is there any chance at all that the head story is real?” Margaret asked.
“Sure, of course the story is real. Once you see the Celtic mummies in Taklamakan Museum you will know it real.” Murasaki said.
“Well, we’re half in already, guys. I say we go meet this Sunday wanker,” Margaret said.
“Yeah, me too,” Clovis said. “I want to check out Paradise.”
“I’m in,” William said. “What about you, Jimmy?”
“And miss a chance to meet The Master Evangelical Redeemer of the International Awakening? I wouldn’t miss it!” Jimmy said. “I’m in too.” 

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