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Dragon Bones: A Novel [Hardcover]

Lisa See
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 20 2003
When the body of an American archaeologist is found floating in the Yangzi River, Ministry of Public Security agent Liu Hulan and her husband, American attorney David Stark, are dispatched to Site 518 to investigate. As Hulan scrutinizes this death—or is it a murder?—David, on behalf of the National Relics Bureau, tries to discover who has stolen from the site an artifact that may prove to the world China’s claim that it is the oldest uninterrupted civilization on earth. This artifact is not only an object of great monetary value but one that is emblematic of the very soul of China. Everyone—from the Chinese government, to a religious cult, to an unscrupulous American art collector—wants this relic, and some, it seems, may be willing to kill to get it. At stake in this investigation is control of China’s history and national pride, and even stability between China and the United States.
The troubled Hulan must overcome her own fears of failure, while David tries desperately to break through the shell that has built up around his wife. As Hulan and David are enmeshed in international schemes for power and the turbulence of their own relationship, these hunters after the truth become the hunted—in a fast-driving narrative set against the backdrop of the building of the Three Gorges Dam, the largest and most expensive project China has undertaken since the Great Wall and the subject of great international debate. It is here, in the heart of the Three Gorges, that David and Hulan will battle their enemies and their own natures to see who will win China’s dragon bones.
Dragon Bones combines ancient myth with contemporary anxieties concerning religious fanaticism and terrorism to tell a story of love, betrayal, history, ecology, greed—and gory murder.

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From Publishers Weekly

The controversial construction of a massive dam on the Yangzi River is the backdrop for the latest adventures of Liu Hulan, inspector in the Ministry of Public Security in Beijing, and her husband, American lawyer David Stark, familiar to readers of Flower Net and The Interior. Many years in construction, the Three Gorges Dam will benefit millions of people, but it will also bury untold archeological wealth. At the start of this complex, atmospheric thriller, Hulan is emotionally estranged from David after their young daughter's death from meningitis, for which she blames herself. Officially, she is scrutinizing a reactionary cult, the All-Patriotic Society, when she is sent to investigate the murder by drowning of a young American archeologist, a man who may have stolen ancient artifacts from the dam site. David accompanies her and they begin to repair their relationship, but the body count mounts and the sinister All-Patriotic Society leader, Xiao Da, rallies his followers against the dam. The tension reaches the breaking point at an auction in Hong Kong at which the most precious artifacts are offered for sale; soon after, Hulan and David are fighting for their lives in dark, slimy-walled caves alongside the Yangzi. The melodramatic conclusion has none of the elegance of the prologue, which casually but exquisitely notes the progress of the archeologist's decaying body along the river, through narrows and bays beyond the magnificent gorges. But See succeeds in widening the reader's knowledge about the politics and culture of contemporary China while racing along with an absorbing story.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-In their third outing, which can be read independently of Flower Net (1998) and The Interior (1999, both HarperCollins), Inspector Liu Hulan of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and her American husband, attorney David Stark, are sent from Beijing to the Three Gorges Dam construction site. The plot involves searching for a written record of 5000 years of continuous civilization in China, an ancient myth, the smuggling and sale of valuable artifacts in Hong Kong, the murder of several members of an international crew of archaeologists, and the increasing popularity of a Falun-Gong-like cult, all set against the backdrop of the largest engineering project ever. Some actions in the last 50 pages call for suspension of disbelief, but up to that point this is another good read, especially for Sinophiles. There is one caveat: all of the Chinese speak with double meanings and are smart and crafty, while almost all of the Americans are portrayed as naive, obvious, stupid, or all three until the very end of the book.
Judy McAloon, Potomac Library, Prince William County, VA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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THE SUN STILL HADN'T CRESTED OVER THE ROOFS OF THE STATELY buildings on the eastern edge of Tiananmen Square when Inspector Liu Hulan of the Ministry of Public Security gazed across a sea of people gathered in the huge cement expanse for the first public assembly of the All-Patriotic Society ever to be held in Beijing. Read the first page
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it! July 9 2003
By Alice
Format:Hardcover
Dragon Bones is Lisa See's third book featuring Inspector Liu Hulan and American Attorney David Stark. Several years have passed since the last book, The Interior, and during that time, our heroes have experienced much love, happiness, and a devastating loss. As See points out, the Chinese have a saying: "Things always change to the opposite". Soon after the novel begins, David and Hulan are sent on two separate assignments near the Three Gorges Dam: David is to investigate the theft of ancient artifacts, while Hulan is to investigate the murder of a promising, young American archaeologist.
With See's articulate, clear, and wonderfully descriptive writing style, Dragon Bones is well-paced and full of intrigue, making it a challenge to put down. Plot twists and murders constantly keep readers on their toes, demonstrating See's excellent skills as a storyteller.
One reason I've always enjoyed See's series is for the protagonists, David and Hulan. See has done a brilliant job creating in-depth, captivating characters with an interesting past. You can't help but care about them as they struggle to solve these crimes as well as mend their broken relationship. Sometimes we get a glimpse of David's perspective, while other times we get into Hulan's mind. This is one of my favorite aspects of See's writing--her ability to switch points of view subtly, yet so effectively. By getting into David's and Hulan's minds, it's evident that the two of them are meant for each other. But as the story progresses, readers will wonder if their relationship can survive after all the tragedies they have experienced. The answer is clear at the end of the novel.
Not only are some of the scenes extremely poignant, some are also very funny, particularly those involving the acerbic Pathologist Fong. And though this novel was entertaining, I also learned much, including Chinese culture, archaeology, and history of the Three Gorges Dam.
I would highly recommend this book!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Dragon's Tale June 5 2003
Format:Hardcover
"Dragon Bones" is the third book in a series featuring Inspector Liu Hulan and her attorney husband David Stark. Five years have passed since the tragedy that punctuated "The Interior." And Hulan and David are still grappling with a personal crisis in their lives.
Hulan has become a fully realized character in this novel. Author See does some things with her that she has not done before. For the first time there is a feistiness about her. She has certainly become more assertive in her role as an inspector. She remains the only female in a world of law enforcement dominated by men.
Hulan's sexuality also comes into play in "Dragon Bones." There is a sassiness about the way she carries herself around a certain male character. She is put in more than one situation where she must walk a fine line between remaining faithful to her husband or cheating on him.
In the end, Hulan is able to exorcise her demons. All of her issues get washed away by the Yangzi River. And like Andy Dufresne, she comes out clean on the other side. Hulan has reinvented herself and in so doing has returned to the character we first met in the opening pages of "Flower Net." The author could not have written a better ending. She has effectively set the stage for the next installment in this series.
Lisa See's storytelling, like her character development, has improved since "Flower Net." The plot is tight and well conceived. We are thrust into the story when the first dead body shows up in the opening sentence of the prologue, unlike her previous novels where we had to wait for several pages.
In conclusion, Lisa See has once again opened up a world that most of us will never experience first hand. She doesn't just take us to contemporary China, she takes us off the beaten path.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Suspense, Substance, and Skill May 31 2003
Format:Hardcover
It was nearly my bedtime when I picked up Lisa See's DRAGON BONES expecting to read for a half hour or so. But I was caught and I kept reading until after 3 a.m.Same thing the next night until I finished the novel.
I am not usually a fan of thrillers. A decaying body floating miles and miles on the Yangzi River, with minute details as to its progressive decomposition and mutilation, doesn't strike one as an enticing way to lead readers into a book. But in this case, it is. Lisa See artfully uses the body's journey to introduce the complex web of geography, history, myth, religion, as well as national and international politics, art, economics-and terrorism--in which her characters move.
See's sleuths, as in two earlier books, are an intriguing married couple, Inspector Liu Hulan of the Ministry of Public Security, native of Beijing, educated in the United States, and Lawyer David Stark, whom Liu first met while both were in law school in the United States. They are convincing and attractive, although their survival in some of their perilous undertakings is almost beyond belief. We share in their sometimes troubled relationship with each other as well as in their battles against evil forces and people.
Not one murder, but several, it turns out. One might wish that the final and bloodiest murder had been performed off-stage.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo May 20 2004
Format:Paperback
I would like to say I have read Dragon Bones. This was the best book I have read in my life. The story is intriguing, captivating and visual. I was unable to put it down. I love the characters and plot. The 3 gorges, archeology background in particular, the plot conspiracies and twists were great. I hope one day a good director with true ethics would make a quality movie of Dragon Bones . I went on to read Flower Net. Again Bravo. I plan to start The Interior next. I hope Lisa See continues to write and create another episode for Hulan and David. I think Dragon Bones should be a classic. I found both these books superior over anything I have read. Again Bravo and I hope your publishers keep printing. I would recommend these books to anyone as a Great read. With See's writing it is easy to be submersed in the story. Thanks for such great work. It really makes a difference.

Jeffrey Miner
Brook Park Ohio
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