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Denby LaRouche is a bright, athletic lawyer who works as the in-house counsel for an old style Hong Kong trading firm. Although she loves the challenges of her job and doesn’t miss what she left behind in London, her social life in the bustling harbor city is a disappointment. Most of the attractive Western men are busy trying to make big money and pursuing the slim, doe-eyed local girls.
So when she meets the charming, private school-educated, Randolph Cheng, she has no expectations and tries to banish him from her thoughts. But this is harder than she thinks. As she applies her legal skills and female intuition to solving a looming crisis in her office, suspicion repeatedly falls on the mysterious Eurasian.
Denby LaRouche snapped the cap onto her Waterman pen with finality. She looked hard into the eyes of the skinny Chinese man and said, “I’m afraid that’s the last and best offer you’ll get, Mr. Au Yeung.”
He shifted uncomfortably in the rosewood chair and murmured something in Cantonese. His nephew, who would have been good-looking except for the prominent buckteeth, translated, “My uncle says he wants to talk to your manager. Is your manager a man?”
“He is a man,” she said, “but he’s busy. And he won’t deal with such minor cases as your uncle’s.”
“My uncle still wants to see him.”
“Why would that be?” Denby said. A frosty smile played around her thin lips as she began gathering her papers. She had finished her work and this matter would go no further.
The Chinese boy, whose English was above average, looked uncertain and exchanged some words with his uncle, who was staring stonily at the knees of his threadbare suit.
“Yes?” Denby snapped. They were beginning to waste her time.
The boy said, “He wants to complain you. He doesn’t think you have the experience to make such type decision.”
“Dear me, Mr. Au Yeung and nephew. I think your time is up. If you wish to lodge a complaint, you may call the general manager, Mr. Rupert. Otherwise, please remove your destitute persons from our conference room. I have reviewed the facts of the case. My mind is made up and there will be no going back from here.” She gave them both a nice, false smile and began walking toward the door.
“Please wait, Miss LaRouche,” the boy called suddenly. He ran up to her. “You don’t understand. My uncle is an old fashioned man. He doesn’t realize how things are done these days.”
“Tough for him. He’d better get with it.” Denby turned on her two inch Ferragamo’s. “You’re a nice boy, Henry. Explain it to him and then call. Here,” she pulled a business card from her Filofax. “My cell phone number is on there. Let me know once you’ve dragged him into the twenty-first century.”
Her office was at the end of the corridor, past that of the managing director, past the general manager’s and after the room occupied by the financial comptroller. She was the in-house counsel and her office was the same size as that used by the bean counter. They were on the thirty-second floor of Central Plaza and she had five yards of panoramic window panes looking down over the glorious Hong Kong harbor and beyond to the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui. Diagonally across from her office was the famous Peninsula Hotel, which had been used by the Japanese as their headquarters during the war, then further along was the Regent Hotel, where they now took up temporary residence in the course of their commercial conquests.
Denby laid the file carefully down on the sideboard, kicked the door shut and fell back into her Bif executive leather chair. This one she had paid for herself. The curved table came with the office. She shook her head. They never would learn to respect a woman here. Four thousand years of culture, but when it came to sexual discrimination, they were still hanging from the trees and eating bananas.
She pulled out her handbag and lit a Virginia Slim. The phone buzzed and Eileen, her secretary, said, “It’s Mr. Smogden. Are you available?”
Denby rolled her eyes even though nobody could see her. The blinds were down over the glass wall, which separated her and Eileen.
“Tell him I’m in a meeting and I’ll be finished in the year two thousand and eight.”
“Okay.” The phone went dead. Denby sat forward and made a noise of irritation. The silly girl would actually do it. She punched the extension and said, “Don’t say that. Just tell him I’ll call him later…sometime.”
This contemporary tale takes readers into a world and culture that few have the opportunity to experience firsthand. Ms. Goldsilk’s portrayal of a western woman in Hong Kong illustrates the hindrances and unique prospects that can only be found in this ancient city. The author’s descriptive style allows readers to envision the metropolitan setting while also getting a feel for the culture. The plot moves along at a consistent pace with only a few pauses in the action. Whereas some readers may want to hurry Denby along, the author uses these pauses to explicate the nuances of Hong Kong business and culture. The story is filled with a variety of characters. Readers may find the sheer number of characters initially confusing, but Denby’s character does well using the names and titles of secondary characters as a reminder for readers. The ever-changing relationships between the characters will grab readers’ attention as they try and piece together how each character relates to the crisis at HOF Limited. The Oldest Sins manages to take the issues facing a contemporary woman in a modern, yet deeply traditional culture, and delivers a believable plot with a romantic twist.
Reviewed by: Amanda 3 Angels
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 278
Paper Weight (lb): 11.8
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