I’ve just received the review for Bridge Across the Ocean I commissioned from BookLife, a service provided to authors by Publishers Weekly magazine. Needless to say, I’m sharing this advance review to interest you in reading my novel about bicycling, innovation, Taiwan, business espionage and falling in love. It’s going to be published by Brilliant Light Publishing on September 14, 2021. (The website will be up in about two weeks.)
I’ll be giving away five autographed copies on publication day. If you’re interested in having one, all you have to do is join my mailing list. Just hop on my website, JackBoston.com, and scroll to the bottom of the home page. It’ll take you 60 seconds or less. I’ll send a new blog each week. I’ll never ever spam you.
Thank you! I hope you’ll share my excitement about publishing my new novel.
Ex-counterintelligence officer Jed Smith and his partners at the New Hampshire-based Smithworks bicycle company have invented the Spinner, a revolutionary new bicycle drive. In the hopes of securing a groundbreaking deal, they travel to Taiwan to meet with Joyful Bike, a major manufacturer—but unfortunately they attract the attention of Japanese “information worms,” freelance corporate spies intent on stealing industrial secrets. Now the Smithworks team’s time in Taiwan is split between navigating Chinese culture and business protocol, and attempting to outwit their pursuers long enough to close the deal. Meanwhile, Jed falls for Joyful Bike’s attractive director of business development, Lai Jung-Shan, though a relationship between the two seems unlikely to succeed.
Rochester’s story is part thriller, part love letter to bicycling, and it’s clear he’s writing from a position of intimate knowledge and passion, as convincing atmosphere and minute detail color every page. He also brings that precision and thoroughness to the presentation of Chinese culture, etiquette, manners, and setting, immersing readers in the atmosphere and imagery along the way. While this verisimilitude is one of the story’s strengths, it also slows down the pacing, threatening to overload the reader with information and at times diminishing the focus on the heart of the narrative, which is the characters.
The information worms subplot, meanwhile, offers a strong hook, though the would-be thieves ultimately prove more of a nuisance than a true threat, with authorial intent breaking through to warn readers of the dangers of IP theft and corporate espionage. Meanwhile, Jed’s emerging connection to Jung-Shan as they navigate the opening stages of a relationship is enjoyable and natural, though there’s a subtle tendency to overly romanticize and exoticize Jeb’s attraction to the Taiwan-born woman, including his thinking of her as “inscrutable,” a term that has often been used by western writers to stereotype Asians. Despite these shortcomings, the overall story is engaging and smoothly told, and will interest cycling enthusiasts and readers fascinated by international business and real-world espionage.
Takeaway: A thriller with a human element, which will appeal to readers who appreciate bicycling and Chinese culture.
Great for fans of: Evan Osnos’s Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China, Dave Eggers’s A Hologram for the King.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B+