Skip to main content

Hong Kong Black


Hong Kong Black

This new thriller by Alex Ryan makes me wish I had read the first book in the series, BEIJING RED. Nevertheless, I am now a fan of Nick Foley, the ex-Navy SEAL character who works for a non-profit organization in Xi’an, China, and an NGO (non-governmental organization) called Water 4 Humanity. 

Nick answers the door to his apartment, expecting to see his date for the evening, Dr. Dazhong Chen, whom he calls Dash. She works for the Chinese CDC and serves on an anti-terrorism task force. Disappointed when his guest is longtime CIA friend Chet Lankford, the top-ranking man in Beijing, he tries to rush him out. Lankford is in no hurry, though, and wants a favor from Nick, who wants nothing to do with CIA business. Peter Yu, an undercover agent, has gone missing, and Nick is asked to check on him.

Meanwhile, Dash asks for a rain check on their date because she has been called upon to help identify body parts that have washed up on shore. Numerous identities will have to be made. Skulls with missing eyeballs, torso cavities without organs, appendages ripped from skeletons await her expertise at autopsy. She travels with Commander Zhang, a fellow member of the Bioterrorism Task Force. A handsome man, he is aware of her romance with Nick, but feels he might still have a chance with her.

"How the individual players can play together without being arrested is carefully written, concocted with intention.... HONG KONG BLACK is a first-rate thriller."

With the major characters set, the story shifts easily from scenes where Nick seeks the whereabouts of Agent Yu to a sterile place where Dash works nonstop to put names to these dead bodies. At sea, a second Chinese officer has located a nearly sunken heavy metal container not far from the beached body parts. His job is to recover the container before it sinks into deeper water. From his vessel, he dives to the spot to reconnoiter its contents. A gush of seawater sends the crate deeper but not before massive numbers of body parts are expelled. More work for Dash.

Nick finds nothing of interest at Yu’s apartment, not even his laptop, but is surprised by an Asian woman who says she is Yu’s girlfriend. Lihau has not heard from him in four days and is worried. Nick transitions into an easy conversation with her, and learns that she and Yu met at her workplace and have dated for a time. She works for a Biotech company called Nèiyè Biologic and uses a technique called CRISPR, proteins for genome engineering.

After finding no signs of a dead body or a crime of any kind, Nick leaves the apartment and immediately feels uncomfortable when he sees a black Mercedes. Its passengers are clearly spying on him. He tries to act calm, but then the car accelerates, racing towards him. He’s catapulted over the top of the vehicle at the same time it crashes into his own car, demolishing it. Nick’s SEAL training takes over when he reacts to the danger. A well-dressed man spews a torrent of Chinese words at him, trying to get out of the passenger side. Nick pins him with the car door, breaks some bones with skill and watches him crumple to the ground. He then picks up a Glock pistol near the body and looks for the driver. When he sees the second man, two shots from the Glock explode the guy from view. Now Nick has a real problem. Lankford’s answer for him is to “Black,” not in Xi’an but in Hong Kong at a CIA safe location.

Brian Andrews and Jeffrey Wilson (using the pseudonym “Alex Ryan”) are the book’s co-authors. Their extensive military experience well qualifies them to inject the strong details that wind up the action scenes to near-explosive limits. Their knowledge of the Chinese culture, government functions, and interaction with and against American agents gives the novel a character both of duplicity and antagonism. Dash’s portrait is well played, both as a physician and as a beautiful woman.

A spider web of intrigue catches Dr. Chen, Agent Lankford, Commander Zhang, Nick Foley and others with its sticky net. The missions of China and the United States overlap in a twisted bioterrorism threat to all of humanity. How the individual players can play together without being arrested is carefully written, concocted with intention. Before their next novel in the series comes to the marketplace, I may have to read the prequel. HONG KONG BLACK is a first-rate thriller.

Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on May 19, 2017

Hong Kong Black
by Alex Ryan

  • Publication Date: May 9, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
  • ISBN-10: 1683310284
  • ISBN-13: 9781683310280