Hong Kong, 1954. The British colony was not yet ready to hear about a Eurasian policeman having an affair with the police commissioner’s daughter. Twenty-two-year-old Simon Lee tasted swift punishment. He was banished to the outer fringes of the territory, to the far tip of a wild and distant island a stone’s throw from mainland Chinese waters — to Tai O, the ancient and murky trading post where fishermen, salt-farmers and refugees were thrown together with spies, pirates and triads. Pink dolphins swam the waters, eagles fished the sea, and some still believed that a tiger prowled the hills at night.

It was a place haunted by history, where corpses had floated in the bay just a decade earlier when Japanese troops occupied the police station, and everybody had a secret about what they did during the war.

Life was unpredictable for the band of beer-swilling misfits that staffed Tai O Police Station. Some said they needed reining in. But whe