Jade Rooster

Jade Rooster by R. L. Crossland. As we move deeper into the first decade of the 21st century, perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised to be coming across more and more books set in the early 20th century. Just in the last few months, I’ve seen Ronan Bennett’s Zugzwang, Rhys Bowen’s Lady Rannoch series, Barbara Cleverly’s Joe Sandilands and Laetitia Talbot series, Carola Dunn’s Daisy Dalrymple series, Anthony Flacco’s Randall Blackburn series, Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher series, Clare Langley-Hawthorne’s Ursula Marlow series, Michael Pearce’s Mamur Zapt and Sandor Seymour series, Jody Shields’ The Fig Eater, Frank Tallis’ Lieberman series, and Kate Furnivall’s The Russian Concubine.

Crossland adds his name to this list with an interesting look at a mystery involving the U.S. Navy in the waters off Japan and Korea during the 1910s when the Island Empire was in its ascendancy and annexing its neighbor. An American merchant ship has gone missing, but the severed heads of three of its crew and one passenger are found in baskets in one of the ship’s whaleboats set adrift. Two men: Sabatelli, representing the insurance company, and Quartermaster Hobson, representing the Navy, are ordered to find and salvage the ship. Their investigation will uncover a complicated underworld involving the Japanese military, U.S. Naval Intelligence, the Korean New Hwarang fighters, double-dealing gun runners and agent provocateurs.

Like most of the better HM authors, Crossland includes a great deal of historical information as he lets the mystery unfold. Similar to the Captain Hoare story, there is a lot of nautical jargon here, but it does not overwhelm the tale. Also, like Pearce’s Seymour, Hobson’s ability with languages and empathy for the native population are vital in gathering information. The narrative wanders a bit with tangential sub-plots and Sabatelli disappears for a long stretch of the action, but eventually everything comes together. The writing is not helped however by the poor editing done by Broadside Press. There are several typos and mistakes throughout the book.


2 Responses to “Jade Rooster”

  1. 1 R. L. Crossland November 13, 2008 at 10:44 am

    What a delight to learn of an unsolicited — but welcome — review.

    Hobson will be back. I am switching publishers so I’d appreciate reader response on typos and mistakes in Jade Rooster. I suspect the former publisher’s scanner.

    Who is my favorite writers on subjects of maritime intrigue in the 20th Century? John Biggins Another favorite who brushes up against things maritime from time to time is Alan Furst.

    Thanks for the kind words!

    Roger Crossland

  2. 2 R. L. Crossland November 13, 2008 at 11:19 am

    It is always a delight to stumble across an unsolicited — but very welcome — review.

    If it is one hundred years old it is legally an antique. If the mystery takes place almost one hundred years ago, it is an historical mystery as far as I’m concerned.

    Who is my favorite writer of maritime intrigue in the early 20th Century? John Biggins

    And then there’s Alan Furst who’s plots will fall into legally antique status in a decade or two.

    I’m switching publishers so I’d really appreciate your eagle-eyed readers’ reports on typos and mistakes in JADE ROOSTER. There is an email link at my web site.

    Thanks for the kind words.

    Roger Crossland

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