Cover image for The gold swan : a novel
The gold swan : a novel
Thayer, James Stewart.
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Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, [2002]

Physical Description:
338 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


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From the author of Terminal Event and Force 12 comes a unique and gripping thriller bridging the worlds of architecture and global politics, and set in contemporary Hong Kong.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Clay Williams, a former FBI agent, works in Hong Kong as head of security at the construction site of what will be the world's tallest building. Commissioned by the Chinese government, the building is intended to show the world that China is the superpower of the twenty-first century. Tragically, Williams' visiting father, a fruit grower from Oregon, jumps out of a high-rise window the same day a teenage neighbor is forcibly abducted from his home. Clay disbelieves the official conclusion that his father's death was a suicide, but his own investigation leads nowhere until he is contacted by an infamous Hong Kong gangster--who happens to be the grandfather of the abducted boy. The two form an unlikely partnership and, though their methods differ, uncover a shocking conspiracy. Thayer's newest novel represents a noticeable improvement. Though some elements are familiar--such as the sappy, hopeful ending--the plot is much more complex and reads more like a mystery than a thriller. Enjoyable and engrossing, this novel could earn Thayer the name recognition he deserves. --Gavin Quinn

Publisher's Weekly Review

Beijing corruption, the Chinese criminal underworld and Hong Kong real estate codes are all part of the stew in this 12th international thriller from Thayer (Force 12, etc.), which centers on the fate of one building. The Gold Swan is a massive, curved, nearly completed Hong Kong skyscraper-set to be the tallest building in the world, the crowning glory in the career of world-famous architect John Llewellyn and a powerful symbol of the People's Republic of China. Alas, it's also leaning. Wry Clay Williams, building security chief and former FBI agent, has to figure out what went wrong, but his investigation is complicated by the suspicious "suicide" of his visiting father, which Williams suspects was actually a murder. A loner estranged from his wife, Williams teams up with architect Anne Iverson, Llewelyn's mistress and second-in-command, and becomes smitten with the unavailable beauty. He stumbles onto a plot by Chinese gangsters and meets with CIA operatives, who, somewhat implausibly, allow him to view videotapes of secret meetings of the Chinese Central Committee in Beijing. Thayer paints a rich picture of Hong Kong politics as well as of the world of international architecture, but his plot lacks suspense and credibility. There are contrived, groan-out-loud coincidences and little sense of danger for the hero or heroine-uncanny luck saves them every time. The book is also riddled with factual inconsistencies, from the fluctuating length of Iverson's hair to more pivotal plot details. Long on atmosphere, this putative thriller is sadly short on thrills. Agent, Curtis Brown, Ltd. (Nov. 6) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved