Critically acclaimed author Tan (The Joy Luck Club, The Bonesetter's Daughter) offers insight into the human psyche in her latest novel, narrated by a deceased tour guide.

Bibi Chen's body is discovered in her San Francisco shop, the victim of an apparent murder just two weeks before she was to lead a tour group through her native China. As the 12 Americans find other guides and journey through China and Burma, Bibi tells their tales, highlighting the differences between the group's various personas.

Eleven members of the group go missing in the jungles of Burma, and Bibi's narration becomes more riveting, as the jungle-trapped tourists battle disease and rumors that they are aiding government insurgents.

Tan's stylized writing enthralls from the first page. The characters' eccentricities are uncovered, and their relationships develop amid the uncertainty of their trip to a foreign country. The author's captivating descriptions of Asia, from rural China to the jungles of Burma, breathe life into this highly anticipated novel, which is definitely well worth the wait. (Oct., 496 pp., $26.95)

Reviewed by: 
Sheri Melnick