Character – Y – Madam Yun

In The Chemical Reaction, Madam Yun, Chief of the Ancient Art Section of the Anti-Smuggling Division of the Ministry of State Security in China, is called to a disciplinary hearing in Beijing. A valuable piece of stolen jade, The Emperor Qianlong’s Wedding Cup, has been sold at private auction in London. Can she recover the treasure on behalf of the state before she loses her job?

Extract from The Chemical Reaction

A hush fell over the room as the door opened. Yun kept her eyes down, following the points of her jet-black shoes, modulating the click-clack of stiletto heels on polished floor tiles to maintain an even rhythm. Careful not to falter as she stepped onto silk carpet, moving from a geometric grid of burnt umber to swirling almond and aquamarine curves, her footfall softened to a swish, swish until she reached her seat and stopped.

A man cleared his throat. Hhggaarrkh. The phlegmy rasp echoed around the cavernous room, punctuated by the ping of spit hitting a copper bowl.

She mastered her disgust, placing her cerise handbag on the tan surface in front of her, adjusting the long edge to line up with the short side of the wooden table, sat down and bowed her head.

‘Madam Yun, thank you for coming.’ The tone was terse, anything but welcoming. 

Emperor Qianlong treasure –Twin jade jue.


A pair of white jade tripod cups in the shape of an ancient bronze ritual vessel, jue. Inscribed underneath “Da Qing Qianlong Fang Gu (Great Qing Emperor Qianlong imitation of the antique) high.

Yttrium Metal – Atomic number 39 and atomic mass 88.906.


Named after small town, Ytterby, in Sweden, which has the unique claim to fame of having 3 elements named after it (Yttrium, Erbium and Terbium) after Carl Axel Arrhenius found a new mineral in 1787 and named it Ytterbite. Yttrium is a soft lustrous metal that is used in lasers for  CDs and LEDs and in bullet proof glass. Dust collected from the moon landings contained Yttrium in higher abundance.

Back to previous  hint – Sc – Scandium

Continue to next hint – La – Lanthanum

The Chemical Reaction by Fiona Erskine is published by the PointBlank imprint of Oneworld and is available here.