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Flower Net

(Red Princess #1)

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  4,951 ratings  ·  555 reviews
“Lisa See begins to do for Beijing what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did for turn-of-the-century London or Dashiell Hammett did for 1920s San Francisco: She discerns the hidden city lurking beneath the public facade.”
–The Washington Post Book World

In the depths of a Beijing winter, during the waning days of Deng Xiaoping’s reign, the U.S. ambassador’s son is found dead–his body
Paperback, 333 pages
Published December 31st 2007 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 1997)
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Ellen I am not so sure! This is not her best genre. She writes a better historical fiction. I have read several of those and they were better.
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Average rating 3.51  · 
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 ·  4,951 ratings  ·  555 reviews

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Dec 24, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have really enjoyed Lisa See's historical fiction and really, really, really wish she had stuck with that genre! This attempt at writing a mystery series is stilted at best. It started off in the usual mystery fashion - discovery of gruesome murders and setting up of the structure and characters who will solve them. But then she introduces the unlikely past (and soon to be current) romance between the two main characters, the tumbling procession of back-and-forth across the ocean events, the ...more
Dec 05, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china, mystery, thriller
I dithered with the rating and the review of this book. I have read and loved Lisa See's historical fiction but this was a very different genre. Set in (almost) modern day USA and China, the book is a murder mystery with international political intrigue, with some smuggling thrown in for good measure. I don't really enjoy political fiction (with some rare exceptions) or murder mysteries that are about police and gangsters.

The beginning was rather slow and I almost gave up. The book starts off
Kim Kaso
Dec 23, 2016 rated it liked it
I liked her other books, but this book was a big "meh". A letdown...thought her subject matter would be a winner, but the plotting and characters were very average in an already crowded field. 2.5 stars rounded to 3.
Oct 19, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, china
Complex investigation by former lovers into Chinese Triad's smuggling of nuclear triggers, illegal immigrants, drugs and bear bile (!), taking place in LA, Beijing, Montana and the Chinese countryside is more complex than interesting, more fraught with melodrama than engaging. It's a disappointment after Dreams of Joy and Shanghai Sisters which were excellent, nuanced stories of the Chinese American experience, particularly for women, drawn from the author's own family.
I don't think I'll be
Zoe Golden

Rating 4. Contains possible spoilers.

This is one of those books that I tell myself I'm not going to like but I end up doing so anyway. This is due to Liu Hulan, the main character.

She is a wonderfully complex character, drawn between loyalty to family and tradition, her own personal impulses and the duty as a law enforcer. The perfect amount of stoic and empathetic.
David didn't grow on me as much as Hulan did, but I did sort of empathize with his role as the morally torn defense lawyer still
Stef Rozitis
Sep 22, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-women-2016
This was a disappointing read. I do love that it was book-ended by Hulan rather than the really irritating and passively arrogant David Stark. The romance of the two (if you can call it that when it has elements of abuse in it) gets in the way of what in some ways is a good story-puzzle. I predicted the twists but I have been reading crime fiction for years and I think in some ways they were well structured. What I didn't enjoy was the descriptions of various gruesome crime scenes (luckily these ...more
May 30, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, china
Definitely not one of Lisa See's best books. She should stick to the wonderful Chinese historical fiction she does so well. Flower Net is also set in China, but in almost-modern China (late 90s). The characters are flat and unbelievable and the story is stilted. Seriously, who is going to believe that an experienced attorney who has worked all over the world, who had planned to marry a Chinese woman and who has spent the last several years investigating Chinese mafia activity is really going to ...more
lucky little cat
Brilliant plotting paired with truly wretched dialogue. Come for the action, tune out the talk.

keywords: rich brats eat weird, Cultural Revolution fallout, scary corpses, Beijing is not for wimps, that'll teach 'em, honor your aunties darnit, keeping the family compound, the trouble with bear bile
Susan Beamon
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book had been sitting on my to-be-read shelf for a while. I finally decided to read it because my reading group, Novel Conversations, decided to read a geographical book, one set in an Asian country. I have read several of Lisa See's historical Chinese stories and enjoyed them and her writing style, So this modern story, which bounced between China and California, got its chance. I am now planning to pick up and read the other books in this series.
Hulan, an inspector for the MPS, and David,
Sara Harp
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is very, very good. Tight plot, well established characters and thrilling moments make this one of my favorite mysteries. Lisa See is a master story teller and should write more like this as there are only 2 more in the series. The story combines the underworlds of both China and California, giving insights into a level of society few get to see. Ms See does her homework!
Steph B. Jones
Aug 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nook, 2018
I was very surprised at how unlike any other Lisa See book I've read this one was. It is almost Dan-Brown style, solve the mystery/ who-done-it. While she sticks to her usual theme of involving China and Chinese characters, it is modern-day and takes place half in America half in China.
Oct 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-ipad, readin12
I really liked this mystery thriller that takes place, mainly, in China. I couldn't give it 5 stars only beacause it wasn't "amazing" but I "really liked it!" I've never read anyting by Lisa See but I sure will now. Her knowledge of not just China but the people and culture as well, made this such an interesting read.

In alot of ways this novel is a typical mystery. Illegal ways of making money.... people get greedy....people die. The main characters work together to try to solve the problems.
Aug 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In FLOWER NET, Lisa See introduces a character, Liu Hulan, a Chinese investigator, who is brought in to solve the murder of an American ambassador's son. As the story unfolds, she travels to Los Angeles as another Chinese body is found murdered on a ship full of immigrants. This story goes back and fourth from China to America bringing with it an American FBI agent, David Stark. He and Hulan know each other before when she was in America at the same law firm where David also worked.

This story
Mar 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a journey Lisa See made from this, her first novel, to one of her most recent books: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. I was expecting Flower Net to be another exposition of the role of women as subjugated members of Chinese society/culture. Instead I found a historical narrative with a strong female detective in 1980s Communist China making a transition to a market economy. The book was difficult to put down----I found myself repeatedly saying "one more chapter". I really appreciate the ...more
Rachel N.
Liu Hulan is a police detective in China assigned to the murder of the U.S. ambassadors son. David Stark is an assistant U.S. Attorney who finds the body of a red prince in a ship carrying illegal immigrants from China. The two cases are connected and David is soon sent to China to work with Liu Hulan on the cases. The two of them have a previous history from when they worked for the same U.S. law firm. The story has plenty of twists and turns and lots of history of China. This is the first book ...more
Dec 28, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009

This book was a fast, easy, and mostly entertaining read. It does not hold a candle to See's other two novels that I have read - Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Peony in Love. That is understandable considering that this is her first novel.

After reading several of her books, I can safely say that Lisa See definitely does her research. Perhaps that's what I enjoy most about her novels; they are more than just good stories but they also impart some true to life elements and tidbits of cultural
Lisa Ferrara
Apr 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I hesitated between a 4 star or really a 4.5 for me! I truly enjoyed this mystery. I love Lisa See's style of writing..always have and this was no exception! Her stories set in China always intrigue me, and getting a glimpse of their political ways is an education. It kept my interest and I found myself thinking of the story when I wasn't reading it. Maybe I'm prejudiced to a strong female lead, as I enjoyed getting to know Liu Hulan.
Jan 04, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Given that this is one of See's earlier books, I do not believe her writing style was developed. The book tells the story of a homicide investigation that crosses two continents. The only reason that I finished the book was because my book club was reading it.
This said, I love See's books.
Dec 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, audio
I listened to this during my daily commute so will not be rating it - I get too distracted. I did enjoy it, although it was completely different than any of the other books I have read by Lisa See.
Mar 05, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emily Bell
What I Liked
Lisa See is an incredible writer and she can tackle any genre with skill. Flower Net is a pop culture mystery novel and it fits into that genre in almost every way, but for something of that genre, it is very well done.

One of See's best tricks in her writing is that she reveals things about characters that they never realized before but that were there all along. This does take place in Flower Net. It's more clumsily done than in her later works of historical fiction, but I still
Jul 16, 2019 rated it liked it
In Beijing the body of the American ambassador's son is found frozen in a lake. Off the coast of California, on a ship carrying illiegal Chinese immigrants, the body of a rich Beijing industrialist's son is discovered wrapped in plastic in a water tank. Evidence suggests the two murders are related. Beijing police inspector Liu Hulan and assistant U.S. attorney David stark are assigned to the case. The two not only know each other; they've had a past romantic relationship during a time when Liu ...more
Jan 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this audiobook. I listened to an abridged version. Liu Hulan is an aggressive inspector with China’s Ministry of Pubic Security (police). She is a “red princess” - wealthy from the privileged class, and was educated partially in the U.S. David Stark is an assistant U.S. attorney in Los Angeles. The son of the U.S. Ambassador to China is found murdered in Beijing. Hulan is investigating. Meanwhile, off the shore of California is a Chinese ship packed with illegal immigrants and, ...more
Rachel Jerdin
Apr 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Different Story by Lisa See

I had read three books by Lisa See before reading this one. The others were steeped in Chinese culture and focused exclusively on China. Their culture is so different than ours. She is a great story teller in addition to learning about the culture. This book is about selling illegal parts of protected animals and making herbs and Chinese medicine. This story was about murder, international theft, gangs and terrorism by making so much gore in the killing of people,
I don’t think Hanna-Barbera Productions ever wrote a more ham-fisted script for a Scooby-Doo mystery.

Shaggy exclaimed, “Jinkies, Velma! Did you notice that bear mask hanging in Mr. Bearbile’s bear cave?”

“Jeepers, Shaggy. You’re right. I always though Ursa Bearbile was too hairy to be an honest dealer in illegal bear bile,” remarked Thelma.


“What is it, Scoob?”

Scooby-Doo points demonstrably in the direction of a fast approaching U.S. government employee.

“Yoinks! He’s got a gun . . . a
Dec 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
First book read of Lisa See.
Lots of characters, both primary (David Stack, Hulan Lui, Peter Sun) and secondary (FBI agents, US Attorneys office, US Ambassador, China's Bureau of Security, prominent Chinese businessman, 100 Families' privileged Red Princes and Red Princess') borderline characters...neighbor watch, fellow air travelers.
Layers of intrigue and red herrings. Corruption, greed (money), murder most fowl, human trafficking, ancient medicinal powers, organized crime, espionage,
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A bit disappointing. There are a lot of very interesting descriptions of Chinese culture and the politics of the time (I think sometime in the 1980-1990s?) and glimpses into the history and way of life in China. Those are the things I have liked most in Lisa See's other books. In this one, I liked the dynamics of a female Chinese detective teaming up with a male US attorney to solve the murders of important offspring from the respective countries. The villains were certainly villainous and the ...more
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
Of all the Lisa See's books that I have read, this is my least favorite, not saying that it is a bad book, because it is not that; more of this book didn't have what the others did. This book takes place in Los Angles and Beijing. A murder happened at each place and it looks like they are connected. David Stark Assistant US Attorney, has to work with Liu Hulan MPS to solve this murder mystery while keeping their country happy.

What I love most about Tea Girl at Hummingbird Lane and Snow Flower
Nancy Chiok
I decided to read Lisa's earlier books, and I found that Lisa has changed her style of writing.

This novel is about investigating murders and it spanned between USA and China.

While the story is gripping at certain ends, I can sense the author tried too hard at times. She added more spice to certain angles which I did not find it unnecessary.

I also felt that no chemistry between the protagonist and her lover.

I prefer Lisa's current style of writing whereby I am enchanted by her writing and
In the middle of winter, a young man's body is fofund entombed in ice on a Beijing lake. It turns out to be the U.S. ambassador's son. During the same week a drifting container ship is spotted of the California coast. Upon boarding, Assistan US Attorney David Stark makes the startling diesccovery of a decomposing body - that of a Chinese Red Prince; one of China's elite political's son. While no one wants to create an international incident, it appears that these two deaths are connected.

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Play Book Tag: Flower Net by Lisa See 3 stars 3 16 Feb 09, 2018 04:08PM  
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Lisa See is a Chinese-American author. Her books include Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2005), Dragon Bones, and On Gold Mountain. She was named the 2001 National Woman of the Year, by the Organization of Chinese American Women. She lives in Los Angeles.

Other books in the series

Red Princess (3 books)
  • The Interior (Red Princess, #2)
  • Dragon Bones (Red Princess, #3)