The Lust of Comrade Lu tells the story of a woman who loses the love of the man she adores, is pursued by a man she reviles and dies in a shocking and bizarre manner. It unfolds against the backdrop of six decades of a changing political relationship between Hong Kong and China – from the start of World War II to the present.
The fictional protagonists first come together as members of a guerrilla group fighting the Japanese in Southern China under the command of a British officer, who escaped from Hong Kong as the surrender took effect. One of the guerillas is a young communist cadre, whose uncontrollable desire for a girl, who joined the group after her father was killed by the Japanese, leads to a sequence of events in rural Guangzhou, Shanghai and Hong Kong over a period of several decades. They culminate in him being accused of three “horrendous crimes”, when he is a senior Chinese Communist figure.
In the present, the former cadre, Wang Sanwu, poses a threat to Hong Kong’s freedoms with a plan to abrogate its special status. But the allegation that he is guilty of “horrendous crimes” has raised the possibility that, if proven, they could sink his plan for the former British colony. A retired journalist heard the accusation from a sick friend, who died before he could provide details. The journalist, Simon Crerar, seeks the help of a former Hong Kong police officer, Mark Evans, another member of the guerilla group, to uncover the alleged offences. Mark’s investigation focuses on relatively recent events but he believes the seeds of the Chinese official’s obsession with Hong Kong – and, perhaps, his alleged criminal acts – lies in the past.
After the war, stories circulated in Hong Kong about the group’s activities, including the young communist’s lecherous aspirations towards the girl, Mary Wong, amid a budding romance between her and the British officer. The reports inspired a popular Hong Kong movie, The Lust of Comrade Lu. Although it was supposedly fiction, the film infuriated Sanwu, by then a rising member of the Communist Party, because it was popularly believed to be based on fact. The three met again in Shanghai, after the communists seized power in China, while Sanwu came, unwanted, into the life of Mary years later in Hong Kong. Her bizarre death had left Mark baffled. But now he wonders if it was one of the crimes attributed to Sanwu. There are many elements in Mary’s life that Mark finds puzzling. Gradually, with the help of Simon, he begins to discover answers and, most importantly, unearths an astonishing secret, which she kept from everyone until shortly before her death, when she revealed it to Sanwu. It proves to be the key to resolving all the questions with which Mark and Simon have been wrestling.
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