August is Ghost Month in Taiwan-a time to commemorate the dead: burn incense, visit shrines, honor ancestors, and avoid unlucky situations, large purchases, and bodies of water. Jing-nan, a young man who runs a food stand in a bustling Taipei night market, doesn't consider himself superstitious, but this August is going to haunt him no matter what he does.He is shocked to the core when he learns his ex-girlfriend from high school has been murdered. She was found scantily clad and shot on the side 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 the valedictorian of their high school, and the last time Jing-nan spoke to her she was enrolled in NYU's honor program, far away in New York. The facts don't add up. Julia's parents don't think so either, and the police seem to have closed the case without asking any questions.The Huangs beg Jing-nan to do some investigating on his own-reconnect with old classmates, see if he can learn anything about Julia's life that she might have kept from them. Reluctantly, he agrees, for Julia's sake. But nothing can prepare him for what he learns-or how it will change his life.
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