The Last Six Million Seconds (Paperback)

Staff Pick Badge
The Last Six Million Seconds Cover Image
Special Order - Subject to Availability

Staff Reviews

The Last Six Million Seconds by John Burdett is a thriller set in 1997 in the last days before Hong Kong is handed over by the Brits to the Chinese. Chief Inspector Chan Siu-kai, known to most as Charlie Chan, is on the sea drifting toward Chinses water with a storm approaching. Storms can be very, very bad in that part of the world. He is searching for a floating sack with grisly contents, the heads of 3 murder victims. The murders were sadistic and strange, leaving no clues, not event he identity of the victims. Charlie has an amazing rate of solving crimes, but usually they involve the local triads, people known to one another or criminals who leave nice clues to follow. This is different. The actions of his superiors do not lead Charlie to believe they are all that eager to help in solving the crime. As he ferrets out leads, he becomes involved with players in the financial world, English higher-ups in the government of Hong Kong, and the mainland Chinese waiting to take over. Charlie is Eurasian, his mother was Chinese, his father Irish. Charlie is not close to his father, he doesn’t know where the man is or if he is still alive, he decamped when Charlie was a teenager leaving his family behind. His mother he revered, when Charlie’s Dad left, it destroyed her spirit. Depressed and confused, she traveled back into mainland China in the last days of the Cultural Revolution, meeting a sad death at the hands of the Red Guard. Charlie hates the government of mainland China, soon it will be his government too, the handover is on the horizon. He is erudite, handsome, and tena-cious, a winning combination in a protagonist. The story is richly complicated and paints a fascinating picture of Hong Kong in the last days of British control.

— Deon Stonehouse


It is April 1997, and all of Hong Kong is counting down to July 1, when Britain will hand over rule of the country to China. Public anxiety about the transfer of power is running high, but “Charlie” Chan Siu-kai’s biggest concern is a gruesome triple murder case, with no solid leads. Chan, a half-Chinese, half-Irish Hong Kong native and chief inspector with the Royal Hong Kong police, thinks he’s found a breakthrough when three mutilated heads are found floating in Chinese waters. But he grows increasingly frustrated as the Chinese police actively hinder—and the English bureaucrats pointedly ignore—his investigation. As Chan tracks the killers, he discovers cover-ups and conspiracies running deeper than even he had imagined. All the while, in the background, the clock ticks down to the day the British leave . . .

About the Author

John Burdett was brought up in North London and worked as a lawyer in Hong Kong. To date he has published seven novels, including the Bangkok series: Bangkok 8, Bangkok Tattoo, Bangkok Haunts, The Godfather of Kathmandu, and Vulture Peak.

Praise For…

“[A] fine and subtle thriller. . . . Intense and timely.” —Chicago Tribune

“John Burdett is purely and simply a wonderful writer.” —The Washington Post Book World

“Capture[s] the verve and excitement of Hong Kong in its heyday.” —Boston Herald
“Enthralling.” —Publishers Weekly

“John Burdett’s crime novels . . . are lovely and complex. . . . The reader is transported to a foreign world made familiar through the voice of his guide.” —The Denver Post
“Burdett’s fever-dream mysteries recast the police procedural as psychedelic peep show.” —The New Yorker
“You might find yourself addicted to Burdett’s sizzling prose.” —San Antonio Express News
“John Burdett is writing the most exciting set of crime novels in the world.” —The Oregonian
“Time and again, John Burdett breaks the crime-thriller mold. And then reassembles it, piece by piece. His narrative becomes more than the sum of its parts. . . . Thoroughly enjoyable.” —New York Journal of Books
Product Details
ISBN: 9780307745293
ISBN-10: 0307745295
Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
Publication Date: May 29th, 2012
Pages: 400
Language: English
Series: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard