August is Ghost Month in Taiwan—a time to commemorate thedead: burn incense, visit shrines, honor ancestors, and avoid unluckysituations, large purchases, and bodies of water. Jing-nan, a young man whoruns a food stand in a bustling Taipei night market, doesn’t consider himselfsuperstitious, but this August is going to haunt him no matter what he does.
He is shocked to the core when he learns his ex-girlfriendfrom high school has been murdered. She was found scantily clad and shot on theside of a highway where she was selling betel nuts to passing truck drivers.Beyond his harrowing grief for his lost love, Jing-nan is confused by the news.“Betel nut beauties” are usually women in the most desperate of circumstances;the job is almost as taboo as prostitution. But Julia Huang had been thevaledictorian of their high school, and the last time Jing-nan spoke to her shewas enrolled in NYU’s honor program, far away in New York. The facts don’t addup. Julia’s parents don’t think so either, and the police seem to have closedthe case without asking any questions.
The Huangs beg Jing-nan to do some investigating on hisown—reconnect with old classmates, see if he can learn anything about Julia’slife that she might have kept from them. Reluctantly, he agrees, for Julia’ssake. But nothing can prepare him for what he learns—or how it will change hislife.
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