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Beijing Payback

3.39  ·  Rating details ·  513 ratings  ·  97 reviews
A fresh, smart, and fast-paced revenge thriller, bursting with personality and pathosVictor 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 ...more
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Published July 23rd 2019 by HarperCollins
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Average rating 3.39  · 
Rating details
 ·  513 ratings  ·  97 reviews

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i will be reviewing this for l.a. review of books. posted today!!
Jul 28, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The black guy is great at basketball, the Jewish guy is good with money and all the women are hot. Not much of an imagination. How about mentioning a woman without telling us about her long hair and legs? Would it be so hard?
May 14, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
This was a disappointment. I loved the idea but it meandered a bit that I had a hard time focusing. It almost seemed like it was a kids dream version of vengeance for his father. Moreover, the women characters were so peripheral and weakly drawn. Actually, it pretty much only focused on Victor and he wasnt an interesting enough character to carry the book.

I received an arc from the publisher but all opinions are my own.
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I took a chance on this book and I'm pleased I did. Though this is a mystery, and a revenge tale, it's also an interesting treatment of grief, a father-son and family relationship. A family that turns out to be way more complicated the more Victor Li and his sister Jules dig into their father's past. When a letter from their father urging them to take on a task for him, and a young man from Beijing shows up and gives them more background on their criminal past, Victor feels impelled to go to ...more
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you like the Joe Ide books, I highly recommend this book. It's not Sherlock Holmes, but Nieh's writing draws you in from the beginning.
Dec 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
I wrote this book. It's my first book, and it took me six years and nine drafts to complete. I wanted to write something fun and exciting, a hard-to-put-down book with that "joy of reading" feeling. I also wanted to share some of the things I learned in my own coming-of-age experiences, some of which took place in Beijing. I know it's not perfect, and I hope my next one is better, but I'm still very proud of it.
Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quick little thriller. Bonus points for light and dark humor. Extra points for author being beyond gorgeous.
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beijing Payback finds Victor and his sister Jules mourning the murder of their father. In the following days, Victor is given a letter from his father that reveals he has been living a secret life. Not only is he running 4 restaurants, but he is also one of four founders of a crime syndicate in Beijing. Enter Sun, Old Li's protege since his childhood, who takes him on a mission to avenge his father's death and expose the syndicate, who his father says in the letter, killed him.

This was a very
Kathleen Gray
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Imagine you're a college student and your father Li is murdered. Horrible, right? Well, then imagine that you discover that he was just running a restaurant, he was running a crime organization that started in China years ago and continues today. That's what Victor, and his sister Jules are faced with. Victor has never taken things too seriously but he has good friends in Andre and Eli. Can he or should he trust Sun, who turns up and claims to have been his protege and to have access to the ...more
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic read. It has everything you want in a thriller -- great action, humor, memorable characters, plus nuggets of wisdom about being a human in the 21st century.
Meredith Rankin
My thoughts on what worked for me:

The well-developed characters
I particularly liked the fun interplay between Victor, his long-time best buddy Andre, and their roommate Eli. Theyre funny, quirky, and genuinely seem to care about each other, though in their college-boy phase of life, that looks more like back-slapping and fist-bumping than hugs and crying on each others shoulders. The interaction between Victor and his two roommates helps show Victors emotions of grief at his dads murder and
Purni Siddarth
Jan 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fast paced thriller that had me hooked from the 1st page. I could not put the book down and raced through it. Kudos to the author, hard to believe that this is his first book.
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a fast-paced, surprising and stylish thriller, made even more compelling by the skillful way that Victor moves between worlds - obviously America to China, but also from the comfort of a dorm room to the unknown dangers of the Beijing underbelly. A less thoughtful novelist would gloss over the severe emotional impact of everything that Victor undergoes in such a short amount of time. Nieh keeps the psychological undertow of all the reeling action front and center, and it makes a big ...more
Long, winding, and meandering revenge story that seemed like it was written for the screen, not a book. Lots of violence and action sequences that turned out great for a young and inexperienced kid from America. I listened to the audiobook which was the best way to consume it if you have any experience with the Chinese language or Beijing. Embarrassingly shallow versions of female characters: the dead mother who gets hardly a mention, the angry sister who cusses out her brother at every ...more
Mal Warwick
Jan 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It started not long after the liberalization of the Chinese economy introduced by Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s. Money started flowing out of the country, and much of it ended up in Canada and the USA. And as the years went by, the flow of funds accelerated with the explosive growth in China. A lot of that money much of it dirty has made its way into real estate in New York City, Vancouver, and California. But some has been in the form of direct investment in business. Chinese-English ...more
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
If I had brought sentences like this to my intro creative writing class in college I would have been disemboweled:

"Wei's got the hood of her sweatshirt pulled down over her forehead, the partial concealment lending yet more allure to the exquisite hint of her face that remains visible."
Nov 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was the right balance of slightly implausible but entertaining thriller/action plot and exploring interesting ideas about privilege, culture, and the context of morality. I like books that can both entertain me and make me think about something, and this one hit the mark.
Laurel Starkey
Aug 11, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I started reading this book because a review promised a fast-paced day of exciting reading. Instead I found irritating characters, stiff silly dialogue and an unrealistic plot. It had a surprise ending but by the time I got to the end I so strongly disliked Victor (the books narrator) that I didnt care. I had no feelings for any of the characters.

You know in horror movies where you shout at the screen Dont go in there! but the idiot characters bungle their way in to situations where wise people
Dec 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-for-fun
This was a lot of fun and I'm glad Nieh left the ending a little open-ended because I would hundo p read a sequel.
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
Eh. I wanted to like this a lot and ultimately didn't finish it. I didn't end up caring about any of the characters or what happened to them.
Jul 23, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china
Danny is an old friend of mine and I'm so excited that his book is being published!
Sjoerd Bergstra
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very nice. Glad I read it.
I wish the cover/back side had prepared me more for how it was as much a personal story/journey as an action/adventure book. The insights into Chinese culture as well as Chinese American and general American were fascinating and the main character to the reader is like he is in the book - slow to get to know, but has much more depth and resolve than you give him credit for at first.

Flow Chi Minh
Nieh succeeds at laying out a well paced, sexy, intercontinental revenge tale that keeps the pages turning. I thought what really set the book apart was the history lesson it gave on how criminal elements were birthed during the Cultural Revolution in China and how those factors played into Nieh's storyline.

My biggest gripe is the protagonist Victor just seems a little too sheltered and soft to do some of the things that come later (and even early as well) in the tale. He just wasn't as
Sep 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book fails the Bechdel Test. The women are props or mere vehicles for the men to do something.

It is fast paced and I was surprised how I got sucked into it.

The part where and premise of a SDSU college student, basketball player, hapa guy going to Red China and trying to avenge his father's death is completely implausible. Suspend your belief (or do you have to suspend your disbelief?) And his father's "guy Friday" is also just too convenient.

Otherwise, it's well written. And again the quick
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Asian American Thriller

Im always looking for a thriller that surprises me with new plot lines and unexpected twists and turns. Daniel Nieh covers immigration, biracial families, organized crime, and life as a bench sitting college athlete. Nieh digs into contemporary Chinese history and its impact on peoples lives on both sides of the Pacific. His character Victor Li is a worthy storyteller in English and pinyin! I look forward to more.
Ho Lin
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Decent premise focuses on Victor, a typical SoCal Chinese-American college student, as he comes to grips with his father's murder, and the mysterious underworld figures who appear in his life after the event. Though the dialogue is a bit stilted, the first half keeps you engaged as Victor, his sister, and assorted friends and allies carry out their own investigation. But once the action shifts to Beijing, originality and realism fly out the window in favor of martial-arts showdowns, gangster ...more
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Its tough to adjust when your only remaining parent is killed during a robbery. It is even more appalling when you discover it was not random during a robbery, but murder from a secret life.

Juliana (Lianying) and Victor (Xiaozhou) Li are the offspring of an American missionary and a Chinese man. They have grown up in the San Gabriel Valley supported by a group of Chinese restaurants. Their mom passed away from cancer several years ago. Their father was killed only a week ago. At a meeting with
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Victor Li is a college basketball player living a comfortable life in southern California. His father has a small chain of Chinese restaurants and life seems simple and idyllic until his father is killed in an apparent robbery. His mother, daughter of a Missouri megachurch pastor, had died a few years earlier. When he and his sister Jules meet with their fathers attorney to review the estate, there are major surprises.
Their father did not own the restaurants; he managed them for a group of
Sep 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
This debut novel by a Chinese American is built around a complicated father son relationship. Victor is a fun loving college student in LA who plays varsity basketball but is not quite good enough to start. His father, an emigre from Beijing has married an American wife and raised two kids in LA. The mother has died long before the book begins and the father appears to be a successful entrepreneur who runs a string of local restaurants. All seems bliss until the father is violently murdered, ...more
Juliette Smith
I always love reading a book about adventures in China, but I cant say that this particular adventure was really suited to my interests. The novel read like a Seth-Rogen-tries-thrillers in the beginning, with two dimensional characters defined by insulting stereotypes. Maybe Im a liberal snowflake, but just because the (nonblack) author created a black best friend for the protagonist doesnt totally give him the right to use the N-word in his dialogue.

The thrilling part of the book, the second
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Daniel Nieh is an author, translator, and model. He grew up in Portland, OR, and has also lived in China, Japan, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.

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