Book review: China Run by David Ball

“Wen Li Maria Turk. Onetime orphan of China, future American citizen.

Yes, perfect.

Only now perfection was a problem.” – David Ball, China Run


Genre: Thriller

Author Fact: Apart from China Run, David Ball is the author of two historical novels and has also had his short stories published in anthologies edited by George R. R. Martin. According to his website, he has travelled to 65 countries and has been a pilot and a sarcophagus maker among other things!

The Story: When American woman Allison Turk travels to China she fulfils her long-held dream of adopting a baby. She couldn’t be happier – until she receives a knock on her hotel door one night. The Chinese officials tell her there has been a clerical error. She and the other American parents have been given the wrong ‘healthy’ babies by mistake. They should have received older children with special needs. A van is on the way to make the exchange. Unable to bear the thought of losing her new daughter, Allison flees the hotel in an attempt to reach the American consulate in Shanghai. She soon discovers the clerical error story was a cover-up when she finds herself at the centre of a nationwide manhunt.

Why read it? I first read China Run on a long-haul flight and the pace was faster than most of the in-flight movies on offer. It would be hard to set higher stakes – an American woman on the run in a police state with a new baby and a sullen stepson. But China Run’s not just a good action story. It’s supported by a full cast of intriguing, three-dimensional characters. David Ball is proof that gender is no barrier for a talented author. Halfway through the novel, I flipped to the front cover and was astonished to discover Allison Turk was written from the point of view of a man.

This novel tackles as impressive range of themes from motherhood to the political and moral implications of the dark events taking place behind closed orphanage doors in China. It really is one of those books you can’t put down. Luckily, being stuck on plane for 12 hours, I didn’t have anywhere else to be.

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