Novel of the week: Bad Traffic by Simon Lewis
by Simon Lewis
(Scribner, 375 pages, $25)
Simon Lewis’ “fast-moving and flawless” debut “ranks with the best” of the highly literate thrillers that have been arriving from abroad in recent months, said Patrick Anderson in The Washington Post. Set in Leeds, England, Lewis’ “offbeat” tale pairs a wizened Chinese cop with a naïve 19-year-old illegal immigrant. The older man needs a translator to track down his missing university-age daughter; the younger man needs a street-savvy ally to rescue his wife from a human trafficking ring. “Both lead characters are beautifully drawn,” and the entire action of the novel “takes place in two highly eventful, violent days.”
Along the way, said Peter Mergendahl in the Denver Rocky Mountain News, the Scottish-born Lewis created humor from his fish-out-of-water setup even while illuminating “the plight of desperate refugees and the pure malice of those who would exploit them.”
Bad Traffic “is a rabbit hole that a reader is willingly sucked into,” said Sarah Weinman in the Los Angeles Times. The book’s fast pace is the carrot. The bigger reward is watching a hardened sleuth regain his humanity while learning to function in the Western world.