A taut SF thriller set in the dog days of Colonialism and the 20th century, from a renowned writer of literary SF.
A mysterious box that he cannot open is all that might save Adam's autistic son as they are plunged into a world of old corruptions and new terrors.
In PAINKILLERS, Simon Ings deftly teases out his knotted story that, with its many conventional elements, could have run a risk of overfamiliarity: sinister Oriental Triad gangsters, their even more sinister wives, a speedy Hong Kong with its ruthless Brit yuppies and its nightlife ridden with drugs, strange sex and violence. Shooting back and forth between a glamorous Hong Kong, in 1990, and a straitened London, in 1998, Ings sustains suspense by dropping hints but never telling enough.
Adam Wyatt and his wife Eva run a small cafe near Southwark Market. They bicker a lot, Adam drinks and visits to their autistic son Justin tend to go awry. But underneath Adam's drinking are secrets from their previous life in Hong Kong, when he worked for the Independent Commission Against Corruption and got in with some very dubious local society types; one of whom includes 'Call me Jimmy' Yao Sau-Lan, 'a big nasty man, in a big nasty suit', whose father just happened to kill Eva's grandfather. When Jimmy's widow and sons come calling, Adam knows he's in trouble.
Simon Ings is the author of eight previous novels (some science fiction, some not) and two works of non-fiction, including the Baillie Gifford longlisted STALIN AND THE SCIENTISTS. His debut novel HOT HEAD was widely acclaimed. He is the arts editor of New Scientist magazine and splits his time between a sweltering penthouse in Dubai (not his) and possibly the coldest flat in London.