“A gloriously vivid tale. A kaleidoscopic portrait of Beijing, from young strivers to corrupt bureaucrats and disaffected expats. Pellman has written a beautifully constructed page-turner, one that zings and zaps, full of sharp detail and many moments of grace.”
—Te-Ping Chen, author of Land of Big Numbers
New Year fireworks illuminate the Beijing night, but all twenty-year-old Panzi can think about is the mysterious former classmate who has just burst back into his life. Impulsive, spontaneous, and full of compassion, Xiao Song is like no one he has ever known – the first person who has made Panzi feel whole since his father’s suicide.
Across town and a thousand social strata away, the son of Beijing’s vice mayor and his gilded friends tear through the night in a cherry-red Ferrari, swerving off the road and into Xiao Song’s life. Panzi rushes to the scene just as a barely conscious Xiao Song is whisked away and evidence of the crash scrubbed out of existence.
The police stonewall Panzi. His mother tells him to let sleeping dogs lie. Desperate and unwilling to give up, he enlists a hard-nosed trainee journalist and a loser expat English teacher in his search. They comb Beijing – from homeless shelters to gaudy faux-French penthouses – inching closer to the truth about Xiao Song, the crash, and the soul of the city itself.