Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Last Six Million Seconds” as Want to Read:
The Last Six Million Seconds
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Last Six Million Seconds

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  522 ratings  ·  51 reviews
An exciting new thriller, in the tradition of Gorky Park.

In shops throughout Hong Kong, clocks are ticking down the seconds before control passes from the British to the Chinese on June 30, 1997. With The Last Six Million Seconds, John Burdett has written a riveting and timely thriller that takes place on the eve of the changeover.

Royal Hong Kong Chief of Police Chan S

Hardcover, 385 pages
Published February 1st 1997 by William Morrow & Co (first published 1996)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Last Six Million Seconds, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Last Six Million Seconds

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur GoldenThe Kite Runner by Khaled HosseiniShōgun by James ClavellNorwegian Wood by Haruki MurakamiThe Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
Best books on Asia
295th out of 637 books — 432 voters
The Sorrows of Young Mike by John ZelaznyRooftops of Tehran by Mahbod SerajiA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniSnow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa SeeThe Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Around the World in Books
151st out of 161 books — 51 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 904)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Mal Warwick
Imagine Hong Kong just two months before control passed from British colonial administration to the People’s Republic of China. Picture the complex behind-the-scenes maneuvering between the British Secret Service who hold the reins in the colony and the military men who possess the real power in South China and are destined to rule Hong Kong. Now think about a gruesome triple murder that threatens to derail the transfer of power and blacken the reputations of those in control on both sides of th ...more
May 24, 2014 Kay rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: re-read
Originally published in 1997, now in 2014 I've just read the reissue of 2012, and thought this was an eye-opener into what was really happing in darkest China--the corruption, the drugs and arms trafficking, the sky-high amounts of money being played with, the collusion with a Britain fearful of inconvenient political repercussions and the triads, the mafia connection, the economy-owning People's Republican Army, the closeness of the politicos and the businessmen and the gangs. But then I took a ...more
Jan 31, 2014 Grace rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of Le Carre, Forsyth, Deighton
Considering that the very first (and still, very best) espionage novel I read was The Honourable Schoolboy, all subsequent espionage novels have a lot to live up to. Especially when they take place in Hong Kong. Oh Jerry Westerby, you set the bar high. So obviously this book is pretty spectacular.

I loved the atmosphere. Burdett's novels are full of sensory stimulation - he helps you to see, hear, smell, feel, and taste the worlds he creates, from the lobby of the wealthiest bank in Asia to the s
I liked this, the latest book I read by Burdett. I really enjoyed all of his Thailand books. This one was about Hong Kong, so I was skeptical, but he did a good job, imho.
It's so ironic! I was reading this while students in Hong Kong are protesting against their daddy, China's totalitarian rule. And this book took place in 1997, so long ago, but it was during the last 6 million seconds before HK officially returned to China from its former rulers, the British as per an agreement signed in 1897.
Jun 25, 2013 Kit rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
Overall Rating: Culturally Interesting
I am a longstanding fan of Burdett’s work, so let’s acknowledge my positive bias before I delve into the details. The immediate aspect that strikes me as a Western inhabitant in Burdett’s books is the reflection of Western culture as seen and occasionally adapted by the East. Personally, I have little love for Western culture, but it is always intriguing to see how others see/are affected by it in both positive and negative ways. Burdett, for what he lacks
Barry Hammond
Not to be confused with Burdett's Bangkok series of crime novels, The Last Six Million Seconds is a stand-alone novel, set in Hong Kong a few weeks before Britain returns ownership to the Chinese, but one which easily has potential to become its own series because of the compelling main character, "Charlie" Chan Siu-kai. Chan is half Chinese and half Irish, an investigator with a high rate of solving homicides. At the beginning of the book he's on a high-profile case: the Mincer Murders. Three u ...more
I read the first six chapters of this book, decided I really didn't care and skimmed the rest just so I could say I'd read it. The premise is excellent, a Chinese-Irish Police Detective is trying to solve a triple homicide (that may actually have been perpetrated by the Chinese Government) in the Last Six Million Seconds before Britain returns Hong Kong to China in 1997. The problem is that the characters are not at all compelling, and are introduced without any backstory at all. I had an extrem ...more
Gloria Feit

This book is advertised as being in print for the first time in 15 years – a significant time frame, for fifteen years ago Hong Kong was getting ready for the handover of rule of the country from England to China, a momentous occasion after one hundred years of British rule. This is a fascinating book, with writing that is by turn wonderful, delightful and enchanting. The protagonist, “Charlie” Chan Siu-kai, Chief Inspector, Homicide, Eurasian – half Irish, half Chinese, 36 years old, and divorc
Derek (Guilty of thoughtcrime)
The title refers to the time left, at the start of the novel, to the official handover of Hong Kong to China by the British. As a thriller set in the politics of the period, it's great. The author obviously understands the political and cultural environment of the period, and one can only desperately hope that he's exaggerating (though I suspect not...).

Unfortunately, his understanding of some of the technical details of his plot seem a bit weak. Our hero, Chief Inspector "Charlie" Chan, discove
Jun 10, 2012 Jeppe rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: crime
This is the second book by John Burdettt, the author of the Sonchai Jitpleecheep novels, a series that shares several characteristics with The Last Six Million Seconds. This earlier book is, however, a superior work of fiction in my opinion. Burdett might have been a less experienced craftsman when writing it, but the book somehow has more charm, the story more to say, and the characters more appeal, even when they come off as unsympathetic, than those of his later books. Don't get me wrong, I e ...more
The story of a Eurasian detective set in Hong Kong in the months preceeding the hand off of Hong Kong from the British to the Chinese. Included in the story are pretty lofty accusations that the Red Army is the largest organized criminal enterprise in the world. Interesting to think about, and to look at the different context of when the book was written and now.
David Peters
As books/mysteries go this was okay. The real interest of the book is the development of Burdett as a writer. Featuring a multiracial police detective in Hong Kong (6 million seconds before it is turned over to China) you can see the seeds of Sonchai and Bangkok. It seems Burdett knew where his character was going; he just was initially not sure how to get him there. Fascinating stuff.

The other part of interest is the subtext that you cannot have control without corruption; whether that be the C
Naomi V
John Burdett's new character, "Charlie" Chan Siu-kai (Charlie because English-speakers can't be bothered to come up with a better nickname), is chief inspector in the Hong Kong that will soon be turned over to the Chinese, after 99 years under British rule. he is working on a gruesome case of three bodies minced so that only DNA can be used to match them to the three heads found floating in waters at the border between China and Hong Kong. even this investigation is not as complicated as the res ...more
Emkay Scott
I wasn't aware that Burdett has worked as a lawyer in HK. I had read all of his Bangkok-based books and just assumed that was the society he knew best. But, the HK work, particularly this one (not so much Vulture Peak which seemed off mark somewhat), demonstrates a keen understanding of HK society as well. Apart from the crime story itself, the most interesting aspect of this book is the slow reveal of the HK-mainland China relationship, and the power imbalance between the two. Burdett has a cle ...more
This was an exciting read on a subject I knew very little about. I loved every minute of it!
Not quite as polished or as chock full of colorful characters as his later Bangkok mysteries, nevertheless this is a fun Burdett. He loves his Eurasian characters who struggle with mixed parentage and divided sympathies – and, that also allow him to delve into the mysteries of culture. This is a Hong Kong populated by expats who are filthy rich, triad chiefs who move people like pawns and then there’s our humble Charlie (“Chan”) who stands up to them all.
Wow. As always JB is brilliant and very terribly dark. How he knows this nasty side of Asia and is still alive is beyond me. A triad (mob) murder case in Hong Kong is connected to a wildly corrupt Chinese general and the imminent handover of Hong Kong to the Chinese (set in 1996). The Chinese government, specifically the army, is portrayed as by far the largest criminal organization in the world. If half of this is true the world should be scared.
Six Million Seconds equals 2 months (give or take) and that is the amount of time Hong Kong has left (in this novel) before the Communist Chinese take Hong Kong back from the British. It is an interesting historical time, with a brutal mystery, and a very appealing detective.

I'm a bigger fan of Colin Cotterill who writes with more humor/love of life. But John Burdett has interesting things to say, even when he takes forever to say them.
Chief Inspector Chan Siukai (nicknamed Charlie), a gifted detective, is the product of an Irish father and Chinese mother. He is assigned to solve the grisly murder of three people, crushed through a mincer, during the two months prior to the Chinese takeover of Hong Kong. The murders are very sensitive because of political ramifications and the triads. Good portrayal of frenetic Hong Kong and various cultures.
Marty Clarke
Ugh. What waste of time. Also, way too many characters. At the end, I didn't understand what had happened and I didn't care. I just wanted it to be over.
I might have enjoyed this more if I hadn't read Burdetts Bangkok series. This is ok but not a patch on the other series and Chan certainly isn't Sonchai. The setting of Hong Kong in transition is great but I was hoping for a little bit more than what was delivered here.
One of Burdett's better efforts. Detective "Charlie" Chan investigates several really gruesome murders in Hong Kong during the last days of British possession.

Sam Reaves
The unlikely city of Hong Kong has always fascinated me, though I've never been there. So I was pleased to find this thriller by John Burdett, whose Bangkok novels are terrific, set there on the eve of the hand-back to China in 1997. A Eurasian copper investigates a grisly murder, with the clock ticking toward the end of Hong Kong as we know it.
Intriguing and powerful, if brutal and uncompromising in exploring the dark (or at least weak) side of human nature. Not so for the hero, who works for good--or at least for truth--in spite of all the barriers to such exploration. As an aside, I've never seen the word carapace used so often in a work of fiction.
Apr 12, 2008 Dr.gaildavis rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Dr.gaildavis by: Aaron
This is a very disturbing murder mystery, not for its gore,(although it is very gory) but for the picture it paints of life and politics in China. The author lived in Hong Kong as it was returned to China, and his understanding of the reasons behind the events and criminal activities kept me up some nights!
In this book about Hong Kong detective (Charlie) Chan Sui-Kai's investigation of gruesome murders we see the pattern for Burdett's Bangkok series. While classified a mystery, Burdett entwines gangsterism, history, literature and culture in a fascinating tale.
I liked this book until about 3/4 of the way through. I found Chan an interesting character and Hong Kong before it's reversion to China an interesting locale. Towards the end, however, the storyline became just a bit too far fetched for me.
Wish Burdett had more with Inspector "Charlie" Chan.

Great book, captures Hong Kong just before the handover, it was as evocative of place as was Rogue Island. Both enoyable thrillers in which the location was a palpable character in the story.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 31 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Bone Mountain (Inspector Shan, #3)
  • Anarchy and Old Dogs (Dr. Siri Paiboun, #4)
  • Bamboo and Blood (Inspector O, #3)
  • The Queen of Patpong (Poke Rafferty Mystery, #4)
  • Dogstar Rising (Makana, #2)
  • Jade Lady Burning (Sergeants Sueño and Bascom #1)
  • Dead Weight (Bill Gastner Mystery, #8)
  • White Sky, Black Ice (Nathan Active Mystery, #1)
  • A Fine Red Rain (Porfiry Rostnikov, #4)
John Burdett is a novelist and former lawyer. He was born in England and worked in Hong Kong; he now lives in Thailand and France.
More about John Burdett...

Share This Book