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Dragonfish
Cover of Dragonfish
Dragonfish
A Novel
by Vu Tran
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Robert, an Oakland cop, still can't let go of Suzy, the enigmatic Vietnamese wife who left him two years ago. Now she's disappeared from her new husband, Sonny, a violent Vietnamese smuggler and gambler who's blackmailing Robert into finding her for him. As he pursues her through the sleek and seamy gambling dens of Las Vegas, shadowed by Sonny's sadistic son, "Junior," and assisted by unexpected and reluctant allies, Robert learns more about his ex-wife than he ever did during their marriage. He finds himself chasing the ghosts of her past, one that reaches back to a refugee camp in Malaysia after the fall of Saigon, as his investigation soon uncovers an elusive packet of her secret letters to someone she left behind long ago. Although Robert starts illuminating the dark corners of Suzy's life, the legacy of her sins threatens to immolate them all.

Vu Tran has written a thrilling and cinematic work of sophisticated suspense and haunting lyricism, set in motion by characters who can neither trust each other nor trust themselves. This remarkable debut novel is a noir page-turner resonant with the lasting reverberations of lives lost and lives remade a generation ago.

Robert, an Oakland cop, still can't let go of Suzy, the enigmatic Vietnamese wife who left him two years ago. Now she's disappeared from her new husband, Sonny, a violent Vietnamese smuggler and gambler who's blackmailing Robert into finding her for him. As he pursues her through the sleek and seamy gambling dens of Las Vegas, shadowed by Sonny's sadistic son, "Junior," and assisted by unexpected and reluctant allies, Robert learns more about his ex-wife than he ever did during their marriage. He finds himself chasing the ghosts of her past, one that reaches back to a refugee camp in Malaysia after the fall of Saigon, as his investigation soon uncovers an elusive packet of her secret letters to someone she left behind long ago. Although Robert starts illuminating the dark corners of Suzy's life, the legacy of her sins threatens to immolate them all.

Vu Tran has written a thrilling and cinematic work of sophisticated suspense and haunting lyricism, set in motion by characters who can neither trust each other nor trust themselves. This remarkable debut novel is a noir page-turner resonant with the lasting reverberations of lives lost and lives remade a generation ago.

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Awards-
About the Author-
  • Vu Tran was born in Saigon, Vietnam, and raised in Oklahoma. He is the winner of a Whiting Award, and his short stories have appeared in many publications, including The O. Henry Prize Stories and The Best American Mystery Stories. He teaches creative writing at the University of Chicago. For more information, please go to VuTranWriter.com.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from June 8, 2015
    Tran’s thriller debut revolves around an elusive woman who seems lost in her own private—and haunted—world. Robert Ruen is an Oakland, Calif., police officer whose Vietnamese ex-wife, Suzy, has remarried a shady Las Vegan gambler named Sonny Van Nguyen, a figure with whom she shares a distant past. When Suzy disappears, Ruen is strong-armed by Sonny’s son, Junior, to help track down the woman Ruen never really knew. His search transpires in a wonderfully noirish Las Vegas, including second-tier casinos and strip-mall restaurants concealing underground aquariums stocked with illegal and exotic creatures—the titular dragonfish among them. Interspersed with Ruen’s quest is Suzy’s own first-person narrative about fleeing with her daughter war-torn Vietnam by boat for a Malaysian refugee camp. These long sections, addressed to the daughter she abandoned upon reaching the States, occasionally interrupt the novel’s momentum. However, they also feature the strongest writing and elegantly reveal the roots of Suzy’s mercurial behavior: “Everything that has happened since seems a shadow of what happened there.” This is a most enjoyable mystery, from its distinct, dazzling premise all the way to its satisfying conclusion.

  • AudioFile Magazine Narrator Tom Taylorson's deep, sombre voice suits this gritty story, which wends from Las Vegas to Vietnam, then Malaysia, and back to the U.S. Robert Ruen is the standard jaded cop at the center of this noir. His past keeps coming back to haunt him. Suzy, his missing Vietnamese ex-wife, must be found, for her sake as well as his. Taylorson switches believably between the American main character and the supporting cast of Vietnamese hit men. His renditions of accented English add to the ambiance of non-native speakers, which is essential to these characters. Through his precise, insistent pace, the listener is drawn into the danger, shifting settings, and multicultural history at the heart of the story. M.R. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine
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A Novel
Vu Tran
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