Mysterious Reviews Home


A Li Yan and Margaret Campbell Mystery by Peter May

Snakehead by Peter May

Review: A deadly and contagious strain of Spanish Flu, illegal Chinese immigrants crossing the border at Mexico, a former lover that was never forgotten, all of these contribute to the success of Snakehead by Peter May. Snakehead is the second book in the Beijing series.

The story starts with the raising of a sunken submarine in the Arctic, filled with the corpses of men who died from an unexplained, terrible disease. Flash forward to Texas, where we meet Dr. Margaret Campbell, Chief Medical Examiner of Harris County, the third largest in the United States. She is called to investigate the mystifying deaths of 98 Chinese found hidden in the back of a truck trailer. Li Yan, the criminal justice liaison from China, and former lover of Dr. Campbell, is sent to Texas to help oversee the process and prevent further embarrassment for China. He has currently been living the Washington DC area, unbeknownst to Dr. Campbell, for the past year. During the autopsies of the bodies, a peculiar needle mark is found on the corpses. Blood tests eventually determine that each immigrant had been injected with Spanish Flu, a deadly virus that was thought to be eradicated. But who is the snakehead that is smuggling these Chinese into the country? At $60,000 a person, he stands to lose almost $6 million. Why are they being injected with the deadly virus? Is this some part of a terrorist plot? How many other illegal Chinese immigrants have already arrived in this country, carrying the deadly virus? What of Margaret and Li, can they bridge the gap between two cultures and live happily ever after? You will have to read Snakehead to find out.

Snakehead was an exciting, medical mystery that had me captured from the first page. May's descriptive writing helped me to easily envision the scenes as they unfolded. "A frozen sun shone in the palest of clear blue skies tiny colored ice particles dancing in clouded breath." The description of medical forensics was just as thorough. The characters faced real life struggles, making the reader care about what happened to them. Margaret and Li clearly belong together, but can they get around their differences, forget the past, and forge ahead together in the future? The mystery itself was challenging, however, I was able to figure out who the snakehead was, and who engineered the Spanish Flu virus before I finished the novel. But that is what is so enjoyable about reading a mystery novel, being able to solve it before the last page.

This novel earns a 4.5 out of 5 stars. I enjoyed reading this novel and want to read the first book in this series, and the sequels, to learn more about the relationship between Margaret and Li. If you enjoy medical mysteries with a romantic twist, then Snakehead is the one for you.

Special thanks to Ruth Miller for contributing her review of Snakehead.

Acknowledgment: Poisoned Pen Press provided an ARC of Snakehead for this review.

Review Copyright © 2009 — Ruth Miller — All Rights Reserved
Reprinted with Permission

Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author

Mystery Book Review: The Critic by Peter MayThe Critic
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover), November 2007
ISBN-13: 9781590584583; ISBN-10: 1590584589

Mystery Book Review: Chinese Whispers by Peter MayChinese Whispers
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover), October 2009
ISBN-13: 9781590586082; ISBN-10: 1590586085

Location(s) referenced in Snakehead: Houston, Texas

— ♦ —

Snakehead by Peter May

Snakehead by A Li Yan and Margaret Campbell Mystery

Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Format: Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-606-8
Publication Date:
List Price: $24.95

Buy the Book (purchase options)