In Taipei, Taiwan, the kidnapping of a Mainlander billionaire throws national media into a tizzy—not least because of the famous victim’s vitriolic anti-immigration politics.
Jing-nan has known Peggy Lee, a bullying frenemy who runs her family’s huge corporation, since high school. Peggy’s father has been kidnapped, and the ransom the kidnappers are demanding is not money but IP: a high-tech memory chip that they want to sell in China.
Jing-nan feels sorry for Peggy until she starts blackmailing him into helping out. Peggy is worried the kidnappers’ deadline will pass before the police are able to track down the chip. But when the reluctant Jingnan tries to help, he finds himself deeper and deeper in trouble with some very unsavory characters—the most unsavory of whom might be the victim himself.
“Ed Lin’s Incensed is a stylish, smart thriller for the mind, heart, and gut. Sex, music, history, politics, food, humor, and just a touch of violence and death—you get it all. And when you’re done, you’ll beg for more.” —Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Sympathizer
Family secrets come to light in this dark, comedic crime caper set in Taipei during the annual Mid-Autumn Festival.
In Taiwan, the Mid-Autumn Festival is a time for prioritizing family. When 25-year-old Jing-nan’s gangster uncle, Big Eye, asks a favor, Jing-nan can’t exactly say no, especially because two goons are going to follow him around to make sure he gets it done right. The favor is this: Big Eye’s 16-year-old daughter, Mei-ling, has a biker boyfriend from the wrong side of the tracks—in Big Eye’s gangster opinion—and Big Eye wants Jing-nan to bring her to Taipei, away from the bad influences, and straighten her out.
It doesn’t take Jing-nan long to discover Mei-ling is even more trouble than the average bratty, rebellious teenager. She’s been spoiled rotten and doesn’t know how to take no for an answer. She has her father’s thugs wrapped around her finger and quickly becomes the miniature dictator of Jing-nan’s life. But Mei-ling is also hiding a secret—one that puts her in harm’s way. If Jing-nan wants to save his cousin from her own demons, he has to figure out the truth, even if it tears his family apart—again.
Welcome to Unknown Pleasures, a food stand in Taipei’s night market named after a Joy Division album, and also the location for a big-hearted new mystery set in the often undocumented Taiwan.
August is Ghost Month in Taiwan—a time to pay respects to the dead and avoid unlucky omens. Jing-nan, who runs a food stand in a bustling Taipei night market, isn’t superstitious, but this August will haunt him nonetheless. He learns that his high school sweetheart has been murdered—found scantily clad near a highway where she was selling betel nuts. Beyond his harrowing grief, Jing-nan is confused. “Betel nut beauties” are typically women in desperate circumstances, but Julia Huang was high school valedictorian, and the last time Jing-nan spoke to her, she was far away, happily enrolled in NYU’s honor program. The facts don’t add up. Julia’s parents don’t think so, either, but the police seem to have closed the case without asking any questions. The Huangs beg Jing-nan to do some investigating—reconnect with old classmates, see if he can learn anything more about Julia’s last years. Reluctantly, he agrees, for Julia’s sake. But nothing can prepare him for what he is about to learn, or how it will change his life.