Martha Macnamara knows that her daughter, Elizabeth, is in trouble; she just doesn't know what kind. Mysterious phone calls from San Francisco at odd hours of the night are the only contact she has had with Elizabeth for years. Now, Elizabeth has sent her a plane ticket and reserved a room for her at San Francisco's most luxurious hotel. Yet she has not tried to contact Martha since she arrived, leaving her lonely, confused, and a little bit worried. Into the story steps Mayland Long, a distinguished-looking and wealthy Chinese man who lives at the hotel and is drawn to Martha's good nature and ability to pinpoint the truth of a matter.
Mayland and Martha become close in a short period of time and he promises to help her find Elizabeth, making small inroads in the mystery before Martha herself disappears. Now Mayland is struck by the realization, too late, that he is in love with Martha, and now he fears for her life. Determined to find her, he sets his prodigious philosopher's mind to work on the problem, embarking on a potentially dangerous adventure.
"A small masterpiece, setting a fantasy story against a contemporary background." (Booklist)
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Underrated, but classic
As a story, Tea with the Black Dragon is superlative. It's a bit dated now, as a techology-driven story set in 1983, but MacAvoy gets the tech right.
As an audiobook, it's... average. Occasionally, it is obvious that the narrator is not aware of cultural nuances and verbal tics involved in other languages to get some of the vocals right. (Mayland Long is supposed to have an old-style Oxford accent, but the narrator uses a modern, well-educated North London). Since language also drives the story, it might have been better to get a performer who understood and could simulate nuances of accent better. Though in the face of that, Hayes does read aloud quite well, and has a pleasant voice to listen to.
Well, I originally read the book in the late eighties, but yes, the twists of the plot lead to unexpected places!
Yes, the differences in character were quite clear. She avoided simulating the basso profundo so many young female narrators use when reading the male dialog, only deepening subtly, but with clear differentiation between characters.
- Noel "Compulsive reader, compulsive listener."
My favorite dragon book
- Ellen "I'm a bibliophile since early childhood. Love speculative fiction, odd premises, mystery novels that teach about different places and times."