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Daniel Nieh Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Beijing Payback (2019) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Daniel Nieh is a writer, a professional model, and a Chinese-English translator. He lives in Portland, Oregon, the same place that he grew up. He has also lived in other places such as the United Kingdom, China, Mexico, and Japan.

He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelors in East Asian languages. Later he got a Thouron Award to study at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, where he got a Masters degree in Chinese Studies with distinction.

One of the things Daniel likes about his interpreting and translation job is that he is allowed to dip his toes into some different realms for a few days or even weeks at a time. He gets behind the scenes in many different kinds of situations, and he controls the flow of information despite the fact he is a fly on the wall. This job gives him a lot of potential for a dramatic story that he can tell.

In the summer of 2008, he became a model after hearing that the biracial look was a popular one in Asia, so he just sent in some snapshots out to some agencies. Within weeks he was in TV commercials, magazines, and fashion shows. With modeling, there are a lot of adventures, he finds. He also finds that none of the jobs are the same, and some can be interesting and really bizarre.

During this time, he wound up in the pages of just about every magazine because the number of foreign models that were in town dwindled because of limits on visas surrounding the Olympics. He and the other models from around the world would get together, talk and exchange stories of jobs that ranged from absurd to torturous.

With “Beijing Payback”, he wanted to write the kind of novel that is so absorbing people would put off everything in their life, even bodily functions, with all their might. He was looking to tackle the thriller genre with that same intensity that he had thrown in learning Mandarin and practicing basketball.

Daniel learned Mandarin by doing four whole years of course work in just eighteen months. All while he was traveling around China as a college student. He finds that exploring the country filled him with excitement and energy. Daniel loves the way that the language opened him up to all kinds of opportunities to see new places and meet new people. He learned quite a lot during this time, but he was able to craft a new identity for himself as both an explorer and traveler. It is this part that he enjoyed the most of his experience. As he was not all that crazy about who he was in English, but in Chinese, he could be just who he wanted to be.

The novel sprang from two different ideas. One, an aesthetic idea, was the distinctive language of sports, basketball in this case, which Daniel believes has the same qualities of poetry. The other, a dramatic one, is a letter to the future with some instructions in it. This latter idea took shape as the letter the dad writes his son, and the father steers Victor throughout the story, despite being dead on the first page. It is a microcosm of the way the past exerts a subtle but inevitable pull on the characters’ feelings, actions, and thoughts.

Nieh loves stories that have surprises (like “Fight Club”) and moral dilemmas (like “Gone Baby Gone”) in them. He also enjoys playing with the boundaries of each genre.

He finds Hong Kong cinema to be a huge source of inspiration for him, especially the works of Johnnie To and Wong Kar-wai.

His debut novel, “Beijing Payback” was released in the year 2019 and is a mystery thriller novel.

The novel was one of BBC’s 10 Smartest Beach Reads of 2019. LitHub listed it on their Most Anticipated Books of 2019. Book Riot put it on their list of the 50 Must-Read Crime Titles in July and August 2019. CrimeReads listed it in their Most Anticipated Crime Books of the Summer, they also listed it on their 13 New Books You Should Read This July. Bookish put it in their Chilling Mysteries and Thrillers For the Summer of 2019.

“Beijing Payback” is the first stand alone novel, which was released in the year 2019. Victor Li and Jules (Victor’s sister) are upset by his dad’s murder and is shocked by a confessional letter that he finds with their dad’s things. In it, his dad admits that he was not just a restaurateur, in fact, he was a part of a huge international crime syndicate formed during China’s leanest communist years. He says it was led by him and his “brothers”, the fellow orphans that worked with Victor’s dad.

A mysterious man named Sun turns up that claims to be a friend of their dad’s. Victor quickly learns the entire story of his dad as well as his upbringing in China. His dad was being pressured to help a drug trade in America, something he refused to do.

Victor goes to Beijing, where he navigates through his dad’s secret criminal life. He confronts violent spats, decades-old grudges, and a stunning new enterprise the organization wants to undertake. Standing against it is probably what got his dad killed, but Victor is still undeterred. He enlists his growing network of friends and allies to finish up what his dad started, no matter what the cost.

Daniel Nieh does an excellent job of pulling you in right from the very start of the story. It is a thrill ride with a bunch of turns and twists that hold your attention until the very end. It has all you could want in a thriller, such as: humor, great action, memorable and likable characters, even wisdom about being a human during the 21st century. Daniel is able to capture the authentic details and the texture of the Chinese capital while his characters move from seedy nightclubs to palatial hutongs that are filled with some hi-tech secrets.

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