Scandal and corruption, drugs and pirates, triads and flower boats; the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong and the Communist takeover of Canton. Peter Hui was there. He knew everybody and saw everything. This is the real story of Hong Kong, told with the rich flavours of the street.

If Peter had been only a little bit different he could have been an important man. But this is a riches to rags to riches to rags story. As we follow Peter’s life – his ups, his downs – we see in sharp focus what it was like to be a Chinese man in the British territory of Hong Kong through most of the years of the 20th century.

And yet this book is not just one man’s tale. It is the story of a time and place – colonial Hong Kong, Portuguese Macau and the South China hinterland – seen from the unique point of view of a man who was at home at all levels of society. This is the bizarre story of a man who really did, for a very short time, once own all the opium in Hong Kong. If Suzie Wong had been a real person, Peter Hui would have known her.