Friday 15 September 2023

Chasing the Dragon (Betancourt Mystery Series Book 2) - Mark Wightman

Singapore, 1940

A local fisherman finds the body of a missing American archaeologist

Detective Inspector Betancourt of the Singapore Marine Police is first on the scene. Something doesn't quite add up. He finds out that the archaeologist, Richard Fulbright, was close to deciphering the previously-untranslatable script on a pre-colonial relic known as the Singapore Stone. This was no accidental drowning.

Is there more to this case than archaeological rivalries?

Betancourt also discovers that Fulbright had been having an affair. He is sure he is onto something bigger than just academic infighting.

A government opium factory draws criminal interest.

In his investigations into the death, Betancourt finds his own life in danger, and now he has also put himself on the wrong side of British Military Intelligence, and he is unsure which set of opponents he fears the most...

What did I think?

Wow!  I thought Mark Wightman's debut, Waking the Tiger, was fantastic but this next book in the Betancourt Mystery series, Chasing the Dragon, is absolutely stunning.  There's even a map at the start of the book and I do love a map in a book, although I didn't refer back to it as often as I expected because that would have slowed down my reading of this completely gripping novel.

Mark Wightman's writing draws you in and sets a very vivid scene of Singapore in 1940.  The era and the location is very film noir and so atmospheric that I felt as if I was reading through a fug of opium smoke...chasing the dragon that can never be caught.

Max Betancourt's latest case is investigating the death of an American archaeologist which the powers that be seem determined to rule as accidental death...but Max smells something fishy and it's not the whiff from the docks.

I love not only the main character of Max but the whole cast of returning characters, for those readers who have read the first book.  You can totally read Chasing the Dragon without reading Waking the Tiger, but it's wonderful to see how the characters develop as they each have their own personal challenges.

The plot is very intricate but Mark Wightman's vivid writing makes it easy to follow all the strands of the story and how it all comes together at the end is nothing short of breathtaking.  I couldn't read it fast enough and with a virtual bomb thrown under Max at the end, I'm already chomping at the bit for the next book in the series.

Atmospheric, gripping and immersive, Chasing the Dragon is an unforgettable and unmissable crime thriller.  I really can't recommend it highly enough and I'm having an Oliver Twist moment: please Mark Wightman, can I have some more?

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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