Last violent call by Chloe Gong

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Two former assassins from opposing gangs, Roma and Juliette, are a couple in love, with new identities, living under the radar in the Chinese town of Zhouzhuang. They have established an underground weapons ring, something I initially thought to mean guns, but could actually also be knives as both are highly skilled in knife martial arts. It sounds like a crime thriller, but actually reads like a light comedy full of flirtatious banter between the two. It is just so much fun to read.

Last violent call is in fact two short novellas. The first ‘A foul thing’ is the story of Roma and Juliette drawn back into danger when their aid is sought by a young man desperate to save the life of his fiancee sought by killers after escaping from a suspicious drug trial.

The second novella ‘This foul murder’ is connected to the first, but features two Russian agents, a homosexual couple, aboard the Trans-Siberian Express, on a mission for Roma and Juliette. When a murder occurs on the train, rather than have their schedule delayed by a police investigation, the two men pose as detectives bent on solving the crime. It becomes much like a comedic Russian/Chinese version of ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, with the two pseudo-detectives also engaging in much light-hearted banter.

I have not read Gong’s books in the ‘Secret Shanghai’ series, (for example, Foul Lady Fortune) apparently with a familiar cast of characters, and while there are references to past events, the two novellas in 'Last violent call' can be read as stand-alone, and have been described by the author as ‘domestic fluff’. With captivating characters and funny situations they are really enjoyable ‘fluff’, and perhaps provide a light-hearted entree to her other books, albeit with some spoilers.

Themes: Crime, Gangs, Comedy, Mystery.

Helen Eddy