Tuesday, April 2, 2013

master of rain

The Master of Rain is the first novel by Tom Bradby. Unfortunately, it read like it. To be fair, it got better as it went on; I could almost see the writing improve as he went along. The story was good tho; I can imagine it as a movie plot. Screwing it down to screenplay size may even improve the story. It may be that its too similar to other stories/movies in this genre to actually get any traction, however.

Bradby is a news man from England, stationed in Asia, so he's using his experience there to add to the realism in his story, supplemented by research into the mid-1920s in Shanghai, when the story is set. It takes place at about the mid-point of the hundred years or so that the European lasted in Shanghai, just after the construction of the Shanghai Pudong Development Bank and Custom House, but before Chiang Kaishek came to town in 1927.

The story takes place in the British settlement, and a little in the French settlement, where big European business was flourishing in the post Treaty of Nanking era. The Master of Rain is a crime drama, with sub-plots of love, organized crime, and sex. As I said, the story was good, so it kept me reading. What I didn't like were the funny things that cropped up in the writing that drew my attention away from the story.

The first one I saw was on page 43: Our man is being asked where some files are by his supervisor, who blames this picky attention to detail on their boss (Biers), by saying: "Biers is so bloody anal about all that stuff." Anal? Really? In 1926? I took a look on the Google corpus for British English in the 1920s, just to be sure I wasn't crazy. I got just over 3000 hits--medical text books, insect text books, anatomy treatises. Not a whole lot of general use of Freud's lingo had penetrated sorry, couldn't help it into the day-to-day language of coppers in 1926.

Since then, Bradby has written a few more books, so he must be doing something right. One of them, Shadow Dancer, was made into a movie, so I guess the impression I had of movie-like storyline was close.


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