TAKE NO NAMES
Victor Li is a man without a past. To his new employer, Mark, he’s just an anonymous hired hand to help with the dirty work. Together, they break into storage units that contain the possessions of the recently deported, pocketing whatever is worth selling. Only Victor and his sister, Jules, know that he’s a wanted man. Amid the backpacks and suitcases, Victor makes the find of a lifetime: a gem rare and valuable enough to change his fortunes in an instant. But selling it on the sly? Nearly impossible. Thankfully, its former owner, a woman named Song Fei, also left a book of cryptic notes — including the name of a gemstone dealer in Mexico City.
When Victor and Mark cross the southern border, they quickly realize that this gem is wrapped up in a much larger scheme than they imagined. In Mexico City, shadowy international interests are jockeying for power, and they may need someone with Victor’s talents — the same ones that got him in trouble in the first place.
“I blasted through this novel in one night! Take No Names combines striking characters, edgy prose, and a riveting plot that kept me guessing. Daniel Nieh skillfully blends his characters’ personal journeys with geopolitical tension and drama. Victor Li is one of the most memorable characters in years, and this gripping novel is a worthy successor to Nieh’s fantastic debut, Beijing Payback. Don’t miss this one.”
—David Heska Wanbli Weiden, author of WINTER COUNTS
“Take No Names is a smart, captivating thriller about desperate characters caught up in the lies and machinations of the global power game. Daniel Nieh writes convincingly about both international intrigue and the personal relationships between reluctant outlaw Victor Li and his merry band of co-conspirators. Their hopes and loyalties anchor a story of greed and destruction, the mercenary battle for cold hard money and world domination.”
— Steph Cha, author of YOUR HOUSE WILL PAY
New York Times Book Review “The action is brisk, the dialogue snappy … the story crackles … by the end, Nieh has laid out a handy road map for global noir in the modern world: characters torn between nations, exploiting a system that is itself inherently exploitative, getting swept up in international currents that they barely comprehend." (Editor's Choice selection)
Kirkus Reviews “Combines biting humor, breathless action scenes, a clever presentation of mixed languages, and dark geopolitical commentary, including an indictment of America's own duplicity. It’s a lot of fun.”
Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine “A smart, worldly, and deeply informed thriller… The dialogue is frequently clever and funny, and the characters are fully, humanely drawn, even those with brief cameos. . . . With the artful use of Mandarin characters, compelling characters, and a rich sense of multiple settings, Take No Names invites readers into a cross-cultural page-turner.”
Bookpage “Take No Names is a blast from start to finish…Nieh maintains a steady balance of humor, action and thrills while making some barbed commentary on American capitalism and Chinese globalization."
Asia by the Book “Fasten those seatbelts and hold on tight… Daniel Nieh has perfected the art of the cliffhanger ending and the ability to transform a sequel that’s possibly part of a series into a free-standing adventure … one of the books most likely to be tucked in a suitcase after its publication in July--especially if vacation plans include a trip to Mexico City."
Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center “Nieh brilliantly crafts another culturally diverse, politically savvy, border-defying novel that both entertains and illuminates."
BOOKLIST “Gripping heist planning, loads of near-deaths, and a shot at reconciliation among Victor, his sister, and Sun create a juggernaut of a sequel."
Victor Li is devastated by his father's murder, and shocked by a confessional letter he finds among his father's things. In it, his father admits that he was never just a restaurateur--in fact he was part of a vast international crime syndicate that formed during China's leanest communist years. Victor travels to Beijing, where he navigates his father's secret criminal life, confronting decades-old grudges, violent spats, and a shocking new enterprise that the organization wants to undertake. Standing up against it is likely what got his father killed, but Victor remains undeterred. He enlists his growing network of allies and friends to finish what his father started, no matter the costs.
Recommended by The New York Times * NPR All Things Considered * PBS Newshour * BBC.com * Vanity Fair * USA Today * The Oregonian * The Seattle Times * Smithsonian BookDragon * Bookish * LitHub * Book Riot * CrimeReads
“Beijing Payback is the best China thriller I’ve ever seen—a propulsive nail-biter that roars with seamless confidence into a China most Western authors can barely penetrate. Fun, fascinating, insightful, and unforgettable.”
—Nicole Mones, author of THE LAST CHINESE CHEF
“Daniel Nieh deftly recasts the immigrant novel as a sharp revenge thriller. The clash between past and present, between the homeland his father escaped and the new home he dreamt up for his family, is richly layered and deeply affecting.”
—Jade Chang, bestselling author of THE WANGS VS. THE WORLD
New York Times Book Review “Propulsive. . . Highly enjoyable. . . It sets up a sequel, one that I very much look forward to reading." (Editor's Choice selection)
South China Morning Post “A picture-perfect portrait of the Chinese capital’s gritty underbelly.”
Los Angeles Review of Books “Crime fiction with a sympathetic heart — an emotionally layered story of murder, secrets, betrayal, and a son’s loss of innocence about the father he thought he knew.”
The Oregonian “Nieh, himself the son of a Chinese immigrant, has great fun twisting the trope of the immigrant-parent-with-a-devastating-past in this page turner.”
Publisher’s Weekly “[A] remarkable debut… Nieh, a Chinese-English translator, has a real gift for language… This impressive blend of crime and coming-of-age marks Nieh as a talent to watch.” (starred review)
Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center “a bone-shaking wild ride.” (starred review)
Asia by the Book “Although it’s only a possibility that readers haven’t seen the last of Victor Li, it’s a certainty that Daniel Nieh will come up with another smart and riveting novel. The only flaw is it can’t come soon enough.”
Bookpage “Daniel Nieh really goes for it, packing in action, suspense, drama, plus some humor and sexiness, too, … Victor must reckon with the truth about his family’s past and its implications for his future in this entertaining, colorful debut."