This is my first post for the Insecure Writers Support Group and I’d like to tell you about a book I just finished reading–a very depressing book. It took me three days to read, and it certainly wasn’t something I’d normally pick up. I’ll blame that on hubby. He’d read several reviews and bought it with his B&N gift card. Midnight in Peking by Paul French totally captured his attention and eventually, mine.
I kept asking hubby why he thought the book was so good. “It’s about an unsolved case,” he said. He knows I like books and movies about cold cases. This tale sounded right up my alley.
When I started reading the book, it yanked me in immediately but every now and then I’d look up and ask, “Now why were you so taken by this book?”
“It describes an era,” he said. “It’s the story of Peking.” That made more sense. Hubby is into history-not maniacal murder.
Midnight in Peking is the story of the unsolved murder of 19 year old Pamela Werner, the daughter of a former British consul to China. The murder was horrific. I don’t dare describe it here or you’ll quit reading this post. Stay with me; I have a point.
Paul French is an expert on China and wow, he plopped us right down in the middle of Peking, 1937. We lived, breathed and tasted the setting. He went into fine detail.
Midnight in Peking reads like a novel. The pacing is great. The corruption has readers on edge. The facts are well-documented, fascinating and heartbreaking.
Honestly, we don’t know who to root for in this book. There seemed to be no goodness. There are no bright spots. Even the young girl’s dad seemed questionable. I wasn’t sure about him. I had to put my reading aside now and then to catch my breath and look out the window, think of my own daughter and say a prayer for her safety. Midnight in Peking reminded me of the horrors all around us–yes, even today, in our own country.
By the time I reached the end of the story, I realized there were a couple of heroes after all: The father turned out to be a good guy. When all else failed, he dedicated his life to finding out who killed his daughter. And without a doubt, the author is a hero, because he shared their lost story with the world.
And there’s the encouragement today: words have power and writers are heroes. No matter what we write–fiction or nonfiction–we have the power to make someone laugh, cry, think, experience something new, see something in a different way, or actually feel something. We can’t ever take that privilege, that opportunity, lightly. We should pore over every word in our stories, make certain it’s the right word, the best word to evoke what we want our readers to experience. We can be–we are–heroes.