Beijing Smog is a novel about deception.
It is set in modern-day China and is about the power of online ridicule and rumour in a society where truth and reality are about as clear as the thick smog, beneath which corrupt politicians and businessmen struggle for power, spies stalk cyberspace, and a bubble economy is about to burst.
It is the story of an image, which is posted online as a joke, goes viral, and threatens the ruling Communist Party, which doesn't have a sense of humour.
Beijing Smog is built around three characters:
- A 21-year-old Chinese blogger who lives mostly in a virtual world beyond the screen of his smartphone, and who first posts the image.
- A delusional British businessman, still selling the China Miracle, which made him rich, but is now crumbling around him.
- And an American diplomat chasing cyber spies.
Their individual stories collide as the image spreads and takes on a life of its own in a bizarre and threatening way for them all, but mostly for the Party.
Ian Williams' cyber thriller takes readers from Beijing's smoggy streets to Shanghai's historic Bund, from the casinos of Macau to the grim factories of southern China, the ice sculptures of freezing Harbin and the islands off the coast of Hong Kong.
Beijing Smog is a gripping, character-led novel that takes a satirical look at the topsy-turvy world that is modern China. It is edgy and original, intelligently capturing the madness, but also painting a disturbing picture of a corrupt and menacing world beneath the smog.
Beijing Smog is a classic, fast-moving thriller, though with plenty of cyber and humour.
Ian Williams was based in Asia for more than 20 years, and has reported from across China. He draws on that considerable experience to provide an authentic and realistic account of a country where a secretive and authoritarian Party is forever looking over its shoulder, fearful and paranoid.
And when the internet image goes viral, the Party can draw only one conclusion: it has to be a conspiracy.