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San Francisco, 1989: Forty years after Mao and his People's Liberation Army set poised to change China forever, Dr. Lili Quan prepares for a journey that will change her life forever.

To honor her mother's dying wish that she return home, Lili reluctantly sets out for China.For Lili, a passionate idealist, this will be an extraordinary trip filled with remarkable discoveries - from meeting and falling in love with Chi-Wen Zhou, a victim of the Cutural Revolution and zealous Taoist, to finding Dr. Ni-Fu Cheng, the grandfather Lili believed had died years ago. But Dr. Cheng has made the most remarkable discovery of all: he's discovered the secret to long life.As Dr. Cheng's only relative, Lili's life is in jeopardy. As greedy and unscrupulous men vie for control of the most earth-shattering discovery of the century, Lili Quan could become a pawn in a deadly and dangerous international game.Before Lili can hold the key to the future, she must unlock the deadly secrets of the past.


  • San Francisco Book Festival - Honorable Mention (AudioBooks) 2011
  • Gold Medal - Florida Book Award (2009)
  • 1st Place - Royal Palm Literary Awards (2009)
  • Silver Medal - Best Mystery of the Year - Foreward Magazine (2009)
  • National Indie Excellence Award Finalist (2009)
  • National Best Books (2008)






DOROTHY L Blog Site, December, 08
Review by Kaye Barley

RABBIT IN THE MOON by Deborah and Joel Shlian is a beautiful, heartbreaking, poignant international thriller that will have your head spinning one minute and your heart breaking the next, all while keeping you on the edge of your seat in suspense.

The story takes place in 1989 during the 7 week period which ended with the massacre in Tiananmen Square. The research is meticulous, and delves quite deeply.

This is an amazing work of fiction in which the research, handled with less care, could have gotten in the way, simply because of that dramatic image of that unforgettable young man positioned in front of that tank in that square is so firmly placed in our minds.

Wanting to give us more about what led up to that particular moment could, I think, get in the way of a fictional account based on true happenings, as we know them. The writers, however, do an incredible job of merging the facts with their fiction into one terrific tale.



This thriller is at times so fast-paced it leaves you breathless, yet the scene-setting is so superb that you'll want to slow down to reread various pages, and immerse yourself once again in their sensory impact. A thoughtful, educational read, Rabbit in the Moon proves that the battles between morality and politics, between science and fantasy, between student and battle-scarred veteran are as topical today as they were at the time of Mao's Long March."
Reviewed by Betty Webb

BOOKLIST Published May 1, 2008

—Review by David Pitt

In this fast-paced thriller, a young Chinese American doctor, Lili Quan, is summoned by her dying mother to China. Soon Lili becomes embroiled in the search for her deceased grandfather, who may not be dead after all and who may possess the secret of immortality. Lili finds the man, and he passes on the secret to her, which is a mixed blessing. Lili is now in the crosshairs of a shadowy group of ruthless killers, and she must use all her wits to stay alive. The Shlians know how to build suspense, the plot is by the numbers, and we've seen the plucky young hero/heroine many times before under different names. Still, the story has a really engaging premise, and the unrelenting pace is sure to hook thriller fans.

Fiction Shelf June 2008
Volume 7, Number 6

For some, a potential life span of one hundred and twenty years is nowhere near enough for them – and they'll do anything to make it longer. "Rabbit in the Moon" tells of the discovery of something to make that idea much more possible- and those who would abuse it and keep it for their own, away from the masses for their own selfish needs. A Chinese family must gain the resolve to stand against them and hold onto the secret, for their intentions are not those with the greatness of the world in mind. "Rabbit in the Moon" is highly recommended to fans of deftly written and imaginative novels – and a must for community library fiction collections.

Reviewed by Vicki Landes,
author of "Europe for the Senses – A Photographic Journal"

Deborah and Joel Shlian do more together than most married couples. Whether it's practicing medicine, working on their MBAs, or writing novels that get the attention of Hollywood directors, the Shlians are a powerful force to be reckoned with. Their latest novel, "Rabbit in the Moon" only proves that point even further.
"Rabbit in the Moon" is an international thriller of epic proportions. American-born-and-proud Lili Quan is a driven woman – young, a medical doctor, and passionately strong in her convictions and views on life. She's also stubbornly avoiding a heritage she'd rather not identify with. But when two completely different cultures and secret political agendas collide, she slowly learns that her overall importance in a whirlwind of seemingly unconnected events cannot even begin to be imagined. It's an east vs. west, old vs. young, democratic vs. communistic, yin vs. yang struggle for an elusive secret with unlimited and priceless potential. One that men…and even governments…are willing to kill for…
To put it simply, "Rabbit in the Moon" is brilliant. While carrying a consistently high level of suspense, the plot is a harmonious tapestry of real places and cultures with a fictional development of events. The Shlians put an exceptional amount of sensitivity into describing and projecting the mysterious intricacies of the Far East. As a western reader (and one who knows very little about China other than news regarding product recalls), I found it delightfully fresh and exciting. They bring the novel to life even more with their extensive background in the field of medicine. Detailed and articulate, "Rabbit in the Moon" is an intelligent read for any adult thriller or conspiracy aficionados as well as those who enjoy books with Chinese cultural elements. It is by far the best novel I've read all year.
Deborah and Joel Shlian's latest novel, "Rabbit in the Moon" eclipses other books of its kind. With a plot worth of the silver screen, its heart-racing action and intensity will make it almost impossible to put down before the last page is finished…and once you're done, you'll be asking for more. "Rabbit in the Moon" radiantly shines!

June, 2008 issue

The secret at the heart of Rabbit in the Moon (Oceanview Publishing, $24.95) the latest thriller by Drs. Deborah and Joel Shlian, is nothing less than the key to long life, an apt device for two physician authors. It's 1989, the year of Tiananmen Square, and Dr. Lili Quan visits China for the first time. There she finds her grandfather, who has discovered the formula for longevity. Once she has his formula, the chase is on as a host of greedy villains try to get their hands on Lili's powerful secret. With fast-paced twists and turns, this is the perfect read for your first jaunt to the beach.

National Public Radio Review July 21, 2009
Listen to audio here

The Tiananmen Square Massacre of June 4, 1989 and the seven weeks preceding this horrific event provide the backdrop for this week's review of Rabbit in the Moon co-written by Boca Raton residents Deborah & Joel Shlain (Shlan).

According to Chinese folklore, there is a rabbit in the moon, which is pounding the elixir of life.

It's May 3rd, 1949. Mau Zedong and the People's Liberation Army are on the march. To the people of China, Communism offers hope…hope for a better life; hope for China's future. For research scientist Dr. Ni-Fu Cheng, Communism is neither better nor worse than what has preceded it. He believes it is science that offers the only true answer, and he, Dr. Cheng, is on the verge of an extraordinary discovery that will revolutionize not only China, but the world. He is the rabbit in the moon.

Dr. Lili Quan, is a young, promising medical resident of Chinese decent. Born in the United States, she considers herself to be an American and, as such, has worked diligently since childhood to shed her Chinese ancestry. As a child, she refused to learn the language and throughout her teen years and into adulthood had shunned the Eastern values and traditions of her parents. With no family remaining in China, she has no plans to ever visit the country of her ancestors, ergo, no need to enhance her understanding of the culture.

At age 27, she is a brilliant and talented medical resident who is specializing in geriatrics at the L.A. Medical Center. Her life plan is clear. She will complete her medical training, and then go on to practice within her chosen field.

When her mother Su-Wei, who had escaped from China in 1949, dies following a long bout with cancer, Lili's life plan is put on hold.

To honor her mother's dying wish to return home to her native land, Lili reluctantly accepts an offer to study geriatric medicine at Shanghi's renown Xi'an (she-an) Institute. It is April 1989, and the quiet rumblings of a democratic movement within China are growing louder, as the old guard Chinese leadership struggles with its more moderate factions for ultimately control of the country's destiny.

Arriving at the Xi'an (she-an) Institute, Lili, or Li Li as it is pronounced in Chinese, learn the truth about her grandfather, Dr. Ni-Fu Cheng, whom she and her mother had believed to be dead. In fact, Dr. Cheng is very much alive and, for many years has been a prisoner in a gilded cage, working on a research project of great import to the Chinese government. He has successfully unlocked the secret to extending life.

Because over the years, her grandfather has managed to withstand all attempts, including depravation and torture, to extract this secret from him, the Chinese government, aided by the narcissistic sycophant, Dr. Seng, has now lured Lili into their web. It is their hope that her grandfather will reveal his secrets to her. With his granddaughter as the carrot, they will finally be successful in loosening the tongue of the rabbit in the moon.

Rabbit in the Moon is one of the most interesting books I've read in quite some time. Its skillful weaving of recent history into what is certainly a first-class thriller is only one of the reasons for its selection as a Florida Book Awards Gold Medal Winner. The book enjoys a great plot, tight prose and outstanding character development…a winner on many levels!

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