Book Review: The Budapest Connection

As part of the Global Interactive Forensics Team or GIFT, Dr. Henry Liu and his four partners find themselves working on the some of the world’s most challenging cases. When called in to investigate the apparent ritual murder of three young women found carefully arranged on the pier of New York’s Brooklyn Marine Terminal, Liu immediately suspects the involvement of the Triads. Known for their ruthless efficiency and ritualistic style, the Triads were a group to be reckoned with but from the start, evidence of sexual abuse and small inconsistencies began pointing the way towards a darker, more sinister organization.

A web of characters including a U.S. diplomat and his wife, cruise ship owners, crooked cops, clairvoyants and a descendent of the infamous Vlad Tepes with an unusual fetish are involved in a white slavery racket where murder is commonplace. It’s a case that will challenge GIFT as they work through their personality conflicts and survive repeated attacks.

This is Lee’s first fictional work and the third collaborative effort with Labriola, author of five murder mysteries. The initial premise is solid although the action is continually slowed by extensive conversations that frequently do little to move the storyline forward. The team’s only female Dr. Gail Merriday is a disappointing character as she swings from brilliantly insightful to blackout drinking, all while plying her wiles on Dr. Liu who finds himself something of an attraction to the opposite sex. Still, suspense genre fans will find plenty to enjoy in this first and hopefully not the last piece of fiction from forensic expert Lee.

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