Hour of the Rat

Title: Hour of the Rat

Author: Lisa Brackmann. She is the author of two previous thrillers, including a previous book following Ellie McEnroe, Rock Paper Tiger.

Genre:  Thriller

Readers: Stay at home moms Krysta and Sarah L., teacher Ninian and accountant Gina aka Slappy.

Summary: Iraq War vet Ellie McEnroe has a pretty good life in Beijing, representing the work of controversial dissident Chinese artist Zhang Jianli. Even though Zhang’s mysterious disappearance of over a year ago has attracted the attention of the Chinese authorities. Even though her Born-Again mother has come for a visit and shows no signs of leaving.

But things really get complicated when Ellie’s search for an Army buddy’s missing brother entangles her in a conspiracy that may or may not involve a sinister biotech company, eco-terrorists, and art-obsessed Chinese billionaire, and lots of cats—a conspiracy that will take her on a wild chase through some of China’s most beautiful and most surreal places.


I think this book may be more enjoyable if the reader reads the previous book in the series, and then the back story would clear things up. I didn’t figure out that this was a series until I was almost done the book. I suspect reading them in order would help. It had almost a 90’s horror movie feel to it, where you want to shake some sense into the main character, before the inevitable happens. It’s certainly not the worst book I’ve ever read, and I wouldn’t say no to reading and/or reviewing another book by this author, and I did finish it pretty quickly, but it’s not my favourite. If you’re looking to get out of a rut or read something different, then it might be a good choice.

There is quite a bit of harsh language, as well as a lot of roughly translated conversations. Many of the characters are fluent in Mandarin, for the most part, so if you’re easily distracted, this book may not be for you. I would have enjoyed the book more if I had a clue as to where exactly everything was happening, a map would have been awesome, but maybe I’ve been spoiled in the past by other authors.

You might enjoy this book if you like travel fiction, which is pretty much what this book is. Maybe I’m used to edgier or scarier thrillers, but this wasn’t as intense as I would have liked.

Grade: C+


Sarah L.

Hour of the Rat was a disappointing read for me. I sort of liked Ellie McEnroe. Her character was sadly flawed and occasionally funny. However, the rest of the book was lacking. This is the second book in a series, and I haven’t read the first book, so that could have something to do with it. Ellie’s “mission” to find her Army buddy’s brother ended up being a let-down for me. It was mildly interesting to travel along with her as she crisscrossed China, but also exhausting. Ellie was often in pain and tired, and I began to feel that way too as I read, waiting for some grand ending where she finds Jason and convinces him to go home to his family. Not really how it ended up happening. The Great Community sections where Ellie is online communicating with Lao Zhang/Jianli make little to no sense (again, probably due to the fact that I haven’t read the first book in the series). Also, the language was fairly objectionable.

Grade: D



When I received this book, I wasn’t sure I would like it. It seemed like it would be very different from books I would normally read, but once I started, I couldn’t put it down! While it isn’t particularly fast moving action, it is an intriguing storyline involving government agencies, GMO crops and eco-terrorists. I quite liked Ellie McEnroe and her constant drive to do the right thing by her friend “Dog” by trying to track down his brother.

The book takes the reader on a crazy trip around China finding out increasingly worrisome things about Dog’s brother. While it wasn’t a fast-paced adventure story, it was more a story of intellectual intrigue and I found myself rooting for Ellie, hoping that she would find Jason and get back to Beijing safely. While some readers may be put off by the rough translations and bits of Mandarin that aren’t translated, the meaning of the conversations is not lost and I liked the way Brackman didn’t translate obvious things such as greetings, etc. but translated when needed. I especially liked her choice to top and tail conversations with Mandarin, indicating that, though the text is in English, the conversation is taking place in another language.

I’ve recommended this book to a few friends that I think would enjoy it and I think that I will look for Brackman’s first book to get a little more of Ellie’s adventures.

Grade: B


Gina aka Slappy

I really wanted to like this book and I did for the first half of it. Maybe it was because I hadn’t read the first one, so I was missing out on some of the backstory. Maybe it was the use of the “F word” or the pill popping or the excessive beer drinking. Maybe it was the complicated names of the places, places I have no idea where they are. Maybe it’s just me and this wasn’t my kind of book (mystery-adventure). I just don’t know what it was, but by the time I got to the end, I caught myself skipping lines just to finish it.

Grade: C


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