Victor Banis (author of over 150 novels) posted a 5-star review of
The Jade Owl by Edward C. Patterson
"a fabulous adventure
Review by Victor J. Banis "Victor J. Banis" (West Virginia)
This is a helluva good yarn, the sort of read we're all hoping for every time we pick up a book, and all too rarely find.
Rowden Gray comes to San Francisco to accept, he thinks, a curatorship at the Museum of East Asian Arts and Culture, only to find when he gets there that the position has evaporated. Instead, he runs into (literally) a fey young man who leads him on a series of adventures involving an ancient relic, the jade owl, taking them at a rapidly accelerating pace from the city's gay bars to Yosemite, to Hong Kong and finally to mainland China. An odyssey that proves to be, in fact, a quest not unlike the Lord of the Rings. If that kind of adventure is your cup of tea, you are certain to savor this one.
I couldn't begin here to detail all the turns and twists of the plot, and why should I? The beginning is a trifle slow, but once you get going, you'll have all you can do to keep up with them yourself. Suffice to say the bird in question is possessed of magic (and not altogether happy) powers and is cursed, and must be returned to the tomb of the Empress Wu Tze-t'ien if major catastrophe is to be averted. "It brings the comets back to earth," to put it succinctly.
The cast of characters is extensive, too: Rowden, of course, and that handsome and gay youngster, Nick Battle, and his drag queen other half, Simone aka Simon, and a one-eyed Cherokee and Chinatown gangsters and...well, plenty of others, and surprisingly the author manages to keep them all well sorted out, without reducing any of them to caricatures or, worse, mere shadows. Indeed, even the most minor of these many people is well drawn and believable.
Locations are vivid, too--if you've ever been to San Francisco, this will take you there again in a twinkling, and whether you've been or not you'll feel like you, too, have made that arduous journey with The China Hands across The People's Republic.
This is a remarkable accomplishment. I finished The Jade Owl with a happy smile and closed it with a sigh of great satisfaction. I recommend the book heartily. You may never read another adventure tale this good. Honest, possums."