“How long do I have to convince you that my brother is not capable of murdering sixty people?”
Christopher Rice, the author of four New York Times bestselling novels by the age of thirty, returns with his first female protagonist since The Snow Garden. In The Moonlit Earth, he delivers a compelling psychological thriller about a young woman who must act to save her brother’s reputation and life when he is accused of being involved in a terrorist event.
When Megan and Cameron Reynolds’s father walked out on their mother, they forged an unbreakable bond. If their father could not be there to take care of them, they would always be there to take care of each other. But life intervenes, and siblings go separate ways . . . until something happens to reforge that bond.
At thirty, faced with disappointments in career and romance, Megan Reynolds returns to the safety of Cathedral Beach, the home of her mother, who lives among the wealthy with no money of her own. Cameron worries that his sister will lose herself around their mother’s frivolous life, but Megan worries more about her brother. She worries that Cameron’s care- free charm, which makes him popular in both his work as a flight attendant on a luxury airline and the West Hollywood party scene he enjoys, could lead him into danger.
When a bomb goes off in a high-end hotel in Hong Kong, security-camera footage appears on television showing two men escaping: one Middle Eastern and one American. Megan and her mother recognize the young American as Cameron—and find that he has become enmeshed with a mysterious family of wealthy Saudis.
In her desperate journey to save her brother’s life, Megan uncovers a trail of secrets and intrigue that snakes from the decadent beaches of southern Thailand to the glass skyscrapers of Hong Kong— and finds herself part of a dark global conspiracy that involves a member of her own family.
Christopher Rice is the recipient of the Lambda Literary Award and is the Amazon Charts and New York Times bestselling author of A Density of Souls; Bone Music, Blood Echo, and Blood Victory in the Burning Girl series; and Bram Stoker Award finalists The Heavens Rise and The Vines. An executive producer for television, Christopher also penned the novels Ramses the Damned: The Passion of Cleopatra and Ramses The Damned: The Reign of Osiri with his late mother Anne Rice. Together with his best friend and producing partner, New York Times bestselling novelist Eric Shaw Quinn, Christopher runs the production company Dinner Partners. Among other projects, they produce the podcast and video network TDPS, which can be found at www.TheDinnerPartyShow.com. He lives in West Hollywood, California, and writes tales of romance between men under the pseudonym C. Travis Rice. Visit him at www.christopherricebooks.com.
I really wanted to like this book more than I did. I was getting Nine Dragons signed at the LA Times Festival of Books and this poor author got stuck next to Michael Connelly who had a huge line. Mr. Rice had no people getting his signature. The cover caught my eye and I asked what the book was about. It sounded interesting enough, so I got a copy.
While The Moonlit Earth has a good plot, it fell a bit flat for me. It tried to go too many directions and spent a lot of time at the end with characters explaining things to each other and trying to wrap up the disparate plot lines. It never really had a good, convincing bad guy either. I liked it, but I didn't love it and I doubt that I'll remember much about it a year from now.
Christopher Rice is his mother's son for sure. His books are fast paced, nicely detailed thrillers. I have read several and I have enjoyed them all. The characters are well developed and he knows just how long to hold off on key details to make the reader think and work on the solution themselves -- resulting in a real page turner. He has a very natural writing style that is fun to read. I would recommend all of his books to anyone. Just as a note, I have read some reviews referring to this as "gay lit" - it is not. It is lit for everyone. Entertaining to the last page.
This is not the book to start with if you have never read Christopher Rice--it's a middling effort, but oddly compelling. For a much better read, try A Density of Souls or The Snow Garden. I think his last three books have been rushed to the publisher a little before they were ready. However, fwiw, bouncing back and forth between Orange County and Hong Kong has some good points and when both characters end up in Hong Kong it becomes even better.
Awesome book. A timely yet terrifying thriller! This is the first Christopher Rice novel I've read--but it won't be the last. It is rare to find a male author who can write from the female perspective so perfectly. I found his main characters flawed yet likeable. With colorful imagery, taut pacing and a keen understanding of the middle east, Christopher paints an edge-of-your-seat thriller with care. Not all is as it seems. Well done, Christopher! I highly recommend The Moonlit Earth.
Book Review: The Moonlit Earth by Christopher Rice
Scribner; April 2010 368 pages, $25.00 ISBN: 978-0-7432-9407-2
At thirty years old, Megan Reynolds is an outsider in her affluent hometown of Cathedral Beach, California. She has recently come home with her tail between her legs after losing an altruistic job and her free-thinking boyfriend in San Francisco. Living with her mother, with financial help from her cousin, she finally lands a dream job that will allow her to start over.
Half a world away an explosion rips apart a Hong Kong hotel, killing 60 people. Security cameras partially record this apparent act of terrorism, showing a Middle Eastern man leading an American away from the building only moments before the deadly blast. Watching the media broadcasts, Megan recognizes the American as her beloved gay brother, Cameron.
As the media and the FBI line up to embroil her brother in a terror campaign, Megan is the only one who seems to know he didn’t’, couldn’t, do such a thing. But no one can find Cameron. He has gone underground. Playing the role of White Knight, Megan flies to Asia to find her brother and prove his innocence. Her journey pits her against her mother, her estranged father, a wealthy tycoon, a royal family, and the FBI.
With the clock ticking and bullets flying, Megan uncovers the last thing in the world she was looking for, family secrets so shocking that it will rock her entire universe.
This is the first Christopher Rice book I’ve read, and I must say I am impressed with the author’s skill at creating tension. Rice delivers action, suspense, international intrigue, and sympathetic characters that have true depth. What amazed me most was the intricate plot, and the way it unfolded. He weaves a convincing tale that kept me more than entertained; it kept me turning pages well into the night.
It is a story of devotion and love. Not romantic or sexual love, but the love of two siblings who have shared the same upbringing and know the same pain. It makes a powerful statement about how secrets and a parent’s obsessive love for their children, can destroy a family. And yes, it is a story of bravery and integrity. I love stories with emotionally strong heroines, and The Moonlit Earth did not disappoint. I was slightly annoyed at the minimal amount of gay threads in this plot, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment.
I did have two issues with this book, and both occurred in the latter parts of the story. The first happened when the author introduces a rather long flashback in order to fill the reader in on some needed back-story. This managed to halt the story’s forward motion, stalling the story for a considerable time. I felt it killed the story’s momentum.
My second issue came after the heroine had completed her quest. The story felt like it was basically over. Certainly the action/suspense threads had been neatly put to bed, but then the author kept going for another 50 or 60 pages to reveal yet another layer of this tightly woven plot. I felt that that portion of the story, although interesting, simply droned on far too long. Getting quickly to the point would have made, in my opinion, a stronger, more satisfying ending.
Still, even with my two minor issues, this was a terrific read. One that I enjoyed immensely, and I’m sure I will gladly re-read this book in the future, but only after I’ve read some of his earlier novels.
Note: Technically I’d give the book 4 ½ stars instead of 5 due to a couple places where Rice slips into present tense which is a serious pet peeve of mine. It’s an artistic choice that does nothing to add to the brief moments where he does it and, therefore, irks me to no end. But since Goodreads won’t allow ½ star ratings, and since the rest of the book was so damn good, I’m willing to give it the 5 instead of the 4.
The Moonlit Earth is Christopher Rice at his very best. Do you know the difference between a gay story and a story with prominent gay characters? Finally, after four novels, Rice has learned this important distinction. And his story is much better because of it. Indeed, watching Rice’s talent for story-telling develop over the last few years has been one of the greatest pleasures of my reading life. The majority of his flaws that I overlooked in the past have virtually disappeared in this novel. His over-reliance on queer themes and characters is gone. His characters in The Moonlit Earth are not in danger because of their sexuality any longer. It is simply a fact of who they are. It’s an important fact, but it’s not the all consuming pivotal fact that it is to some of his past characters.
His inability to tell a fully sustained narrative with believable tension, suspense, and action is gone. This was the first Christopher Rice book that I have read in which the circumstances were buyable. There are not shortcuts in The Moonlit Earth. There are no easy conclusions or convenient discoveries that solve the complex puzzle. This mystery has be painstakingly constructed so that every word uttered has weight and value and echoes back to past information; information that, at time, seemed to be meaningless. There are no throw-away lines in this book.
And through it all, Rice’s top notch story-telling and characterization continues to be at the forefront. This book kept me on my toes. Every time I thought he was going in one direction, Rice would zag the opposite way and pull the rug from beneath me. This mastery proves Rice knows his individual characters better than I thought I did. Instead of looking to tropes and character types, simply go along for the ride and revel in the knowledge that being well versed in this genre isn’t enough to prepare you for this story. This is what mystery should be! The Moonlit Earth is one of the best reads I’ve had in a long long time, and the fact that it comes from one of my favorite authors is icing on the cake.
I so badly want to be loyal to Christophe Rice, but OUCH. This read was really choppy and found the pacing of this book to be less than thrilling. I kinda hate to say that he should stick to writing what he knows about (which I hear is a limiting thing to say to an author) but I find myself enjoying Rice's books less and less. Density of Souls and The Snow Garden (which I have read, reread, and reread yet again and again) were layered and full of context, which seemingly found their way to a glorious climax and classic eerie-dyanmic-WTF ending. What happened to his notable cadence that cranked up enough juice at just the right moments? Perhaps they went away when his protagonist shifted sexualities?
Needless to say, I am Bummed. It wasn't a BAD book per say, but it just didn't hit home for me at all (and from what I can tell, many MANY others).
Mr. Rice... I believe in your work and I'm crossing my fingers (tightly) for your next novel to return to characters, places, spaces, and genres that you know well.
This is the first time I've read/listen to anything by Christopher Rice. Half way through the book, this story had me grip with anticipation. I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen later. As I listen to the audio book, I gripped the edge of my chair willing the voice to hurry up and let me know what was going to happen next. And when she finally did, I was not disappointed.It made me listen closer to the story. The pictures of the scenes danced in front of my eyes. I had to blink several times to make sure the explosion wasn't happening in front of me. I had to make sure I wasn't standing next to the characters listening and watching everything they did. Christopher Rice have earned himself a new fan. Highly suggest this book to anyone who loves drama and thrillers rolled up into one mindblowing epic.
Started the Audio book of this one today. I've read one other Christopher Rice book but had a hard time getting into it. I read it because I enjoy his mother's writing so much. This one seems much more interesting. He wrote his first book when he was young and it read more like a teen novel. I can tell he's grown a lot as a writer. So far, the book is interesting.
The book is just too drawn out. I had a hard time paying attention to it. I really wanted to like it because I enjoy Mr. Rice's mother's writing so much, and I have to admit that his writing is getting more interesting to me, but again, I had to force myself to finish this one.
I was not expecting much from this book, and was pleasently surprised to get way more than I bargained for! An interesting read, interesting characters, and homosexuality even played a big part in the book!
This is a decent book, close to good, but nowhere near great, that's why I would give it 2.75 stars if I could rate it using fractional values.
The action is slow, dragging its feet over a plot that is trying to get our attention with not much success, at least not in my case, I had to push myself to finish it, so I can move on to the next book I have on my list.
The writing style is above average, the world, the characters, the dialogue is well constructed, yet is missing that special thing that is catchy, that will keep us on the edge, or in my case, I have my standards, and this book didn't really manage to captivate me much.
I'm a little disappointed since I had higher expectations and I was looking forward to getting my hands on more books by this author, but now, I don't know if I should continue to follow his work. I'll probably try few more books, just so I won't jump to conclusions to fast, without even trying to get a better understanding, but, I've started this book somewhat excited and hopeful I'll be amazed, and I finished this book by not being impressed at all...
The Moonlit Earth is two stories in one: an international suspense thriller and a family drama. Unfortunately, even when these two forks in the road meet, they don’t connect in a meaningful way to either one. Either would have made a great story. Sandwiched together, it felt disjointed, and as some reviews have stated - convoluted. Too, The Moonlit Earth suffers from a sluggish beginning, but once it gets going, it becomes a page turner. This was one of Rice’s books I missed, and if you’re looking to foray into his talented storytelling, certainly give The Moonlit Earth a try- when it’s good it’s really good. I highly recommend his latest Burning Girl series. I consider it his best to date.
Found this at the 99¢ store near me, great read for young adults, but the plot is quite fluctuated. This is more of a book between big reads, and gives a fair amount of mystery. Many tags on here are "gay" or "lgbtq", if that's what you are looking for this isn't right. This book is more on the mystery and family-drama. I would recommend this to any college student on young person who like suspense.
I have always been an Anne Rice fan and have read just about all of her books, except for the latest few. I had been curious about her son, Christopher Rice, and this was the first of his books that I have read. I had mixed feelings about the writing but, I have to say, it was an interesting story with quite a lot of twists. I did have issues with the fact that the edition I read was poorly edited with lots of editing errors. I will give C. Rice another shot.
What a great book! I didn't realize until listening to the last CD that this was written in 2010. My one question, what took me so long to enjoy this one? Fabulous pacing and wonderful characters. Another great adventure from a great writer. Kudos Mr. Rice!
I am not sure where I stand on The Moonlit Earth. My dilemma rests on the internal debate over whether the plot is well developed and richly intertwined, or just overly complicated to the point of convolution and absurdity.
Deconstructing the tale as a whole, the storyline seems more plausible than it appeared as it unfolded. 1. Cousin Lucas sleeps with his aunt, who is the protagonist Megan's mom (ugh, but I imagine that has happened before) 2. Dad leaves mom and kids, rich uncle provides for deadbeat dad's family 3. Cousin continues support after rich uncle's death 4. Lucas sets up Cameron with flight attendant job where he is noticed by a spoiled, gay, Saudi wanna-be prince 5. Owner of the airline wants to blackmail the Saudi family using Cameron and Lucas 6. Separately, Cameron uncovers his mom and cousin's indiscretions 7. Owner of airline (Holder) discovers there is no real dirt to blackmail with but thinks Cameron has something that will hurt him 8. Cameron threatens Lucas over the decades old adultery 9. Holder gets wind of interactions between the cousins, but misinterprets, hires a mercenary to plant drugs to frame Cameron, but drugs are actually a bomb meant to take out Cameron and the mercenary at least. 10. Cameron escapes blast, but is hidden away on wanna-be prince's yacht
But here is where I think I lost Rice, as the plot gets very messy here (Ha!). So Megan is brought to Hong Kong and eventually to the prince by Majed. Majed is doing this because Ali(one of the security heads of the Saudi family who is also working for the real bad guy, Holder) told him the Saudi family head wants Cameron and Majed dead because of their connection to the hotel bombing. Why again did they want to bring Megan into it? Lucas follows Megan trying to get to Cameron, but is killed in front of Megan, who is saved by Majed. Now we have Ali is behind the outing of the prince, trying to kill Cameron via some overly complicated method of binding him up inside the propulsion system of the yacht (WTH? why didn't he just shoot him?), sinking the yacht, and generally destroying the Saudi family. Megan, Cameron and all but one of the Saudis left on the yacht escape. The prince goes into hiding, Megan and Cameron go back to face the authorities and press in the US. Ali disappears, and Holder goes on the lam to Switzerland, while his security company is investigated for the bombing of the hotel. Ali shows up one day to kill Megan and Cameron, which doesn't make sense as Rice pointed out a couple of times that the mercenary's testimony is all that would be needed. Ali is killed by a miraculously timely resurfacing of Majed who also reveals he has killed holder, thereby removing any remaining danger to Megan and Cameron. And there is also Megan's uncovering of the real reason her dad left her mom, and the fact that her dad set up Lucas to sleep with his wife...(huh?)
Wow. And that isn't all of it.
This was not a dime store mystery with plot twists for the sake of misleading the reader, and I am glad for that. The plot was definitely intricate, and maybe on a second reading I could appreciate it more. But for now, I feel it is more of a 75/100.
Megan Reynolds is in store for some significant changes—some she instigated herself, and others of which she is completely unaware. When her job with the Siegel Foundation in Northern California loses funding, she returns to her mother in Cathedral Beach only to be reminded of why she left in the first place. Years ago, when her father walked out on her mother, she and her brother, Cameron, became the intimate siblings they are today. A brief reunion with Cameron, who is now a flight attendant on a luxury airline, unnerves Megan just before he departs on a flight destined for Hong Kong. Her cousin Lucas comes to her financial rescue, as usual, and offers her an office space for new endeavors, but a mysterious phone call he receives leaves Megan, once again, reeling with uncertainty. When news of Cameron’s suspected involvement with a terrorist explosion in a Hong Kong hotel is released, Megan’s mother loses control of herself and Lucas ostensibly takes charge of the situation. Megan begins to piece together what little she can about Cameron’s disappearance after the incident, leading her to become suspicious of Lucas’ actions and eventually flees to Asia in search of her brother. There she meets Aabid, a self-centered teenager obsessed with Cameron and his piercing eyes, whose revealing antidote of when he and Cameron visited Phuket’s Red Light District reveals the true circumstances surround the bombing and Cameron’s disappearance. It is now up to them to find Cameron whilst coming to terms with their family’s dark secrets.
Christopher Rice’s psychological thriller, The Moonlit Earth, focuses on Megan as she uncovers hidden truths, whether they exist in herself, her family, or in the conspiracy surrounding them. In the beginning, she seems to be burdened by her memories and is eventually forced to use everything she has to expose the reality of the hotel bombing and Cameron’s whereabouts. Through realizations about her parents, Cameron, and Lucas, she is finally able to leave the past behind and develops a new outlook on life. “And of course, she would see the world differently, but the world would remain vast, far more vast than her consciousness, than her memories, and for the first time in her life, she would have to find comfort in this, or else the horrible things she had seen would imprison her.” Rice captures the intrinsic human ability of adaptation and self-development that rears its head in the toughest of times, optimistically declaring hardship a necessity for this personal growth.
His fifth novel was not the kind of horror novel that I was expecting, however it was very good and stands up to the standards of what I come to expect from Christopher Rice. I always enjoy his novels. This is one were once you start, you will not want to put it down until you’ve finished it. Be prepared for a fantastic read! The Moonlit Earth is suspenseful, thrilling, and a good mystery with dark family secrets. Cameron and Megan are brother and sister. Cameron works as a flight attendant, and Megan is starting over with the help of her cousin Lucas. Their parents divorced when they were younger, and Megan was the one who raised Cameron, not their mother. Megan is shocked to see her brother on the news in a video with an unidentified Middle Eastern man, believed to be the bombers of a Hong Kong hotel. Knowing her brother, Megan runs to Cameron’s defense.
Her sibling protection will take her to China and to dizzying heights to distant islands, where she searches for her brother with the mysterious Middle Eastern man. Family secrets of wealth, jealousy, and vindictive hatred come to the surface through her hunt, Cameron tries to be more than just a one-night stand. He tries to be a friend. Will he be found and saved before the Chinese police, the vengeful Saudi family, and the evil family member get to him first? Even then, can Cameron and his sister truly be saved and free?
Purchased in April of 2010, autographed "To Bunny" by the author, who was super duper sweet.
I think I expect too much from Christopher Rice.
Not because of his mother, as I think some other fans do. But because I am SUCH a fan of his first two books. I keep expecting that the next book will be as good as the first two. And when the next book isn't, I hold out hope for the one after that.
Yeah, this one didn't do that for me. It's confused me to the point where I think I need to read DoS again. Am I remembering it wrong? Was it really not as good as I think?
Now, that's not to say this book isn't perfectly presentable on its own. This is no Light of Day. It might even be better than Blind Fall. I seem to have blocked out all plot points from that novel, so I'm not 100% on comparing right now.
I think he needs to stick with female protagonists. He writes them very well. There was some disconnect, however, when it comes to the relationship between Megan and Cameron. He set up the disconnect from the jump by talking about how she had been too stressed out to focus on what was going on with her brother. But even as she's racing to Hong Kong and being interviewed by the FBI, it felt more like she was talking about a friend than a sibling. I don't know. Something about their relationship didn't work for me.
Honestly, my favorite moments in the book involved Cameron. I liked the small bits with him and Majed in the beginning, and I loved the flashback to his friendship with Aabid. They were small moments, but they showed the kind of person Cameron was. This was a really wonderful, subtle way to show his character. So bravo on that point.
The plot was convoluted. That's all I can really say. It starts out with this enormous terrorist threat, then swerves left, swerves right, hits a pot hole, and goes tumbling tail over head over a cliff. I appreciated the twists, because I like twists. But...what? I'm still trying to work through them.
If you can't tell, I'm torn in my review. So three stars seems fair.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
All 5 of his books in 11 days! It was interesting reading all of one author's work in one go, and I did suss out some common elements, which I listed at the end of my review of his previous book. Did they show up here? I'll get to that.
This book is similar in length, tone, and style to his previous book, while the three before that were each their own individual animals. I don't know if the change can be attributed to the fact that the first 3 books were published by Miramax, and the latest two by Scribner, but the difference is noticeable. Not bad, just different.
The action returns to Cathedral Beach, the fictional southern California beach town that appeared in Blind Fall, with events and locales from that book getting some shout outs here. (Rice also manages to have a character describe a book by an author named Quinn, with a cover picture that matches perfectly the name and description of a book that Rice's own friend wrote, a fact I discovered when he thanks one Eric Shaw Quinn at the end of this novel). The action eventually moves to Hong Kong and Thailand.
The plot and characters develop nicely, the mystery slowly unfolding until it is solved and then the action speeds along to the end. I think this is the most consistent effort (not as awkward as ADoS could be, not as overly-wrought as TSG , not as repetitive as LBD, no sagging middle like BF). Enjoyable through and through.
As to whether the elements I noticed in the other four books pop up here: yes! 1) There are lower class characters. 2) One character does mention a drunk mother that they had to clean up after. 3) The rich characters help out their lower class relatives. 4) One character does teach a lesson to another character by tricking them into an unexpected outing. 5) One character does disappear, then reappears in a most dramatic way.
I enjoyed reading all these books in a row, and will probably read his books as they come out, if only to see if these elements show up again!
Megan Reynolds is very close to her brother Cameron. That is why she is stunned when the FBI drags her in to interrogate her about his suspected involvement in the mass murder of sixty innocent people. Is her unrelenting faith in her brother warranted, or is she deceived by the trusting nature of her human heart? This entertaining and fast-paced suspense thriller is a coming-of-age story about an idealistic young woman who when faced with the treachery and machinations of evil men, comes to believe that she's been living on a moonlit earth - a world where the soft romantic shadows of the celestial body that rules our nights have left hidden in darkness the sharp, stark terrors that can occupy the corners of dusky world only to later be revealed in the light of day. For her, this light is a dawning of new and frightening awareness, as she tries to help her brother and is thrust out of her sheltered existence and into a world of increasingly frightened revelation
It's sympathetic protagonist is not the only one who is living in a moonlit world: as the mystery unravels manages we see the world through Megan's eyes, and her revelations become our own. Every character in this book to some degree has blinders on; each experiences the world through so many filters of social identity that we are left to ponder this deeper message: in the end, how much do our experiences and upbringing and identities affect how we percieve the world. Yet this novel manages to convey important messages about the world we live in without sacrificing a sense of danger and adventure inherentlt important to the suspense genre, and Christopher Rice does an excellent job of making very different characters feel genuine, even when he's exploring cultures that are not his own.
The adventure is on an epic scale, but it is the well-drawn and believable characters that keep us grounded in the story because our attention is on how human their reactions are even in extraordinary situations.
The Moonlit Earth by Christopher Rice Published by Scribner, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. New York, New York 2010 ISBN: 978-0-7432-9407-2 362 pages
Cameron and Megan Reynolds have an incredibly strong brother-sister bond that formed after their father and mother divorced when they were young. Cameron, a flight attendant on Zach Holder's Peninsula Airline, was proud of his sister for moving away from Cathedral Beach and for her success in business. Life happened between plans and Megan ended up moving into her mother's Cathedral Beach home after being fired from her job. When cousin, Lucas, offers Megan money to start her own non-profit, Megan accepts the job. While she's looking at real estate in Cathedral Beach, Cameron's plane lands in Hong Kong. The bond between brother and sister was put to the test when Cameron is suspected of being a terrorist after a bomb explodes in a hotel in Hong Kong. The FBI, and others, investigate what soon becomes a global conspiracy involving Zach Holder, Lucas, a major corporation, and a Saudi Arabian family.
While reading The Moonlit Earth, I felt a connection to Megan Reynolds. I understand the strength and courage she displayed when confronted with the accusations against her brother. I can imagine going to the lengths she did to find him and to prove his innocence.
I enjoyed The Moonlit Earth from start to finish. The action and intrigue, twists and turns made the novel difficult to put down. I really liked the fact that the police had so little involvement in the investigation. Readers who enjoy action and adventure and intrigue will enjoy The Moonlit Earth.
A tight, fast paced thriller that moves around the world weaving a deadly terrorist attack with an American family's dark, twisted secrets. The novel focuses on Megan Reynolds who has returned to her mother's home near San Diego after a failed relationship as well as a set back to her career. Megan's relationship with her mother is strained from issues in the past when their father walked out on the family. She barely settles in before her flight attendant brother is implicated in the bombing of a posh hotel in Hong Kong that kills sixty people. She soon learns her brother was involved with a powerful Saudi family and as she probes deeper into her brother's relations to the Saudis she begins to uncover dark secrets about her own family as well. Once she receives a text from her brothers phone asking for her help she is off on a global race against time to save her brother and prove his innocence.
Rice is the son of novelist Ann Rice but he inherited none of her longwindedness. The Moonlit Earth is a fast read and the story moves quickly. The characters are interesting and while their family issues are not unique it is fun to see how Rice entwines a family's drama with events of more far-reaching and fatal consequences. Megan's journey is naturally external as well as internal (she is saving her brother's life and her family's bond) and while that is a familiar theme Rice makes you care about her and her brother. The ending is tense and has a few nice twists. Looking forward to his next work.
I've read Christopher Rice's first five novels now (yes, I'm a few years behind and reading them in order), and for me this was the weakest of the lot. "Weak" is probably the wrong word, actually. It's technically proficient and does everything it should do as a thriller. It has macguffins and reveals and reversals and all of the tropes one expects. But it felt a bit tired, a bit predictable. Not completely predictable -- one reversal in particular was well placed for maximum surprise -- but mostly so. And as much as I wanted to feel connected to any or all of the main characters (and especially Megan and Cameron, who are at the center of every moment) ... I just didn't connect. I felt throughout like Megan and Cameron, despite their efforts, were really not all that removed from the self-absorbed childhood crowd they'd tried so hard to distance themselves from. A little less self-absorbed? Sure. But really just self-absorbed in a different way. After A Density of Souls and The Snow Garden, I'd come to expect a certain depth of character from Rice that I just didn't find in this book, despite his best efforts. Of course, this is just my opinion and I don't expect everyone to agree with it. But for this particular reader, The Moonlit Earth fell short of the mark.
Chris Rice did several interesting things with this book. I'd say this novel is best viewed in the context of Southern fiction: complicated characters, somewhat outrageous situations. Megan, the narrator, isn't exactly easy to like, but she does what she has to do when her brother Cameron is accused of an act of terrorism. Cameron is gay and has gotten involved with a closeted young Middle Eastern man. There's no sexual relationship between the two; quite the opposite, actually. (Readers coming to it expecting a traditional gay-themed story, whatever that is, will probably be perplexed. That's not what this is.) The corrosive influence of money is probably the main theme in this novel. With the means to do whatever they want, people turn into monsters. Although the setting is mainly Asia, there's little question of the author's Southern influences. It's a good book, and a good step in Chris's evolution as a writer.
The Moonlit Earth, by Christopher Rice, B. Narrated by Cassandra Campbell, produced by blackstone Audio, downloaded from audible.com.
After Megan Reynolds loses her job as head of a San Francisco nonprofit, she returns to the support of her family in her affluent hometown of Cathedral Beach. Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, a fireball rips through the lobby of a luxury hotel, an apparent terrorist bombing. Security cameras capture the attack, and soon television news footage shows two men escaping, one Middle Eastern and one American. Megan and her mother recognize the American as Megan's brother, Cameron, who may have become enmeshed with a mysterious family of wealthy Saudis. When Megan decides to investigate, she uncovers a trail of secrets and intrigue that snakes from the decadent beaches of southern Thailand to the glass skyscrapers of Hong Kong, and along the way she uncovers some shocking truths in her family's past.