Title: The Trader of Saigon
Author: Lucy Cruickshanks
Page Count/Review Word Count: 336
I picked this book up because I’m running an indie readalong with my friend Todd the Librarian on BookTube, but I realised after I started reading this that it doesn’t really qualify. It’s published by Heron Books, an imprint of Quercus, and it’s quite clearly been professionally edited and put through rigorous quality checks before it’s made it out on to the market. It’s professionally done, and rightly so.
This is technically historical fiction, because it’s set in Vietnam at some point during the mid-to-late twentieth century. It’s after the war, but before the country’s had time to heal. As for the plot, it’s surprisingly hard to talk about that without giving away spoilers. What I will say is that it involves people trafficking amidst the paranoid backdrop of communist Vietnam, and a dude called Phuc makes some very bad decisions after finding a gambling den.
Cruickshanks’ writing style is accessible and easy to read which means that it’s the kind of book that can just wash over you. She’s also fantastic at creating a sense of place, and it really kicks in right from the opening pages. You can almost taste the food and smell the markets. Cruickshanks has spent some time in Vietnam, of course, but simply spending time somewhere doesn’t necessarily mean you can write about it. Lucy can, and that’s a talent.
Sure, there were bits here and there that dragged a little, but that happens with most books. But the good outweighs the bad, and I enjoyed this quite a lot overall. I might not remember the finer details in six months’ time, but it certainly kept me turning the pages right up to the end. When it comes to a book, what more can you ask for?
Will I read the next one? Maybe. There are so many books and so little time. But I’d like to.