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A Case of Two Cities: An Inspector Chen Novel (Inspector Chen Novels) Paperback – October 2, 2007


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Product Details

  • Series: Inspector Chen Novels (Book 4)
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; 1st edition (October 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312374666
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312374662
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #235,462 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Chinese expatriate Qiu's gripping fourth Inspector Chen novel (after 2004's When Red Is Black) captures an honest detective's struggle to be true to his professional ideals under a repressive regime. The Communist Party leadership appears to be vigorously investigating rampant corruption among the profligate power elite during China's economic reforms of the recent past. After the head of the Fujian special case squad is murdered in sordid circumstances, Chen Cao of the Shanghai police bureau discovers that the dead man had been probing a wealthy businessman, Xing Xing, who fled to the United States to escape prosecution. Chen himself is then given the highest authority to carry on the investigation, which takes him to the U.S., but he soon realizes he's not meant to succeed. Chen stands in a class with Martin Cruz Smith's Russian investigator, Arkady Renko, and P.D. James's Scotland Yard inspector, Adam Dalgliesh. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Whether set in the U.S., Europe, or Asia, crime novels offer a lens with which to look at societies and the dynamics that shape them--and few locales can offer the kind of dynamics that Shanghai can, a city being transformed by the introduction of market economics. Beijing assigns Detective (and poet) Chen Cao of the Shanghai police the task of investigating Xing Xing, who has amassed a fortune while corrupting various party officials, but the detective has no sooner begun his investigation than he is told to lead a delegation of writers to the U.S. for a cultural exchange. Concerned that Xing may have fled to the U.S and requested asylum, Chen agrees to lead the delegation. Plot is secondary, or even tertiary, here. Character, poetry, insights into Chinese society and culture, and food all come before story in this unusual and compelling crime novel, the fourth in a fascinating series. Thomas Gaughan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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In this particular book, some might say that the plot almost seems secondary to the poetry.
Litr8r
While these books are set at the beginning of the transition of the Chinese economy, they can help the reader understand where China is today.
King
The Chinese author acted as his own translator and the text is marred by inappropriate word choices as well as missing words.
Phillip I. Good

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Ronglimeng on May 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
My wife is from Shanghai. I have read the Inspector Chen series aloud to her over the past few years. She enjoys hearing about and explaining to me the various Shanghai expressions that Qiu Xiaolong uses. She also enjoys hearing and then back-translating much of the Tang dynasty poetry that is included in the stories.

However this time, I'm finding the story heavy going. Qiu is not a native English speaker and he's no Joseph Conrad. The language is pretty pedestrian and the story lacks drama.

With Chen's visit to the USA, I was hoping for similar poignant descriptions of culture shock to what Martin Cruz Smith used in Polar Star when he had his Soviet fishing crew come ashore in Alaska for a shopping spree.

I will continue following the story of Chief Inspector Chen but only because of my particular "China interest".
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bobby D. on December 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is the fourth Inspector Chen novel in what is becoming a favorite guilty pleasure of mine. As I have mentioned in previous reviews I am no big Mystery book fan. However, Xiaolong has been able to infuse his investigations in settings with enough political and cultural information as Modern china transitions to capitalism in the 1990s. On one web page I noticed the book was tentatively titles "Red Rats, A Case of Two Cities" which I think would have been a better title. Why? Because this time Chen is assigned a highly political case of corruption where the old corrupt guard (Red Rats as Old Hudson calls them) are living off bribes and favoritism. (Interesting enough, Chen has his own network of friends too. Does he see paying a visit to a friend who owns a restaurant as stepping stone to more major corruption on his part?) Chen is to investigate Xing Xing who left (escaped) leaving the country for wealthy communities in Southern California leaving behind a half brother no one can find. The book opens with the last officer in charge of this investigation found murdered in highly embarrassing circumstances. Does Chen understand the danger he is in as he is assigned the case? The case, like all of Chen's takes a back seat to his daily living, coping for example with is elderly mother, and his real desire to be a poet as he plods from interview to interview. And when he gets a clue the informant does not call him back, she has been killed. Then out of no where he is assigned to head a delegation of authors to the United States where in St. Louis he meets up with US Marshall Catherine Rhone (who visited China in the second installment, "Loyal Character Dancer".Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mariah Giles on January 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Qiu Xiaolong writes in a way that is so wonderful on several levels:

1. He is a superb writer.

2. These are very good mysteries/crime stories. No pat endings and detailed characters with complex motives and relationships.

3. This view into modern life in China and the effects on its people of that nations recent history are not to be missed. Nowhere will you find such a detailed and eye-opening look at "real life" in China unless you have friends from there!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Richard Kurtz on December 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was very conflicted by this fourth book in the Chen series. On the one hand, with this

series (and this author) like Mankell's Wallender series and Robert Wilson's Seville series, etc. as well, I am , like so many mystery book junkies --I am one of the first on the block to purchase each new additon to these respective series--but, and here is the big but, while I enjoyed the continuation of this series and I particularly enjoyed the author's inclusion of Inspector Chen's "own" poetry to advance the story as well as the many references to early poetry lines and literary references and putting these frequent references into the mouths of many of the main characters I did find aspects of the plot to be somewhat careless and at times diverting (like the temple scene in LA) and I also have real issues with the number of typos and missing words throughout this book. I'm sure, like most readers, we can overlook one or two of these slips in editing but this book had more than a dozen omissions of articles and mispellings. However, saying all that I did enjoy the book and assume there will be a sequel since more things were left dangling than were resolved at the end of the book. One other point, I must say I find Detective Yu, Chen's sidekick, more interesting and more fulfilling as a character along with his very resourceful and loyal wife and, of course, his venerable father, Old Hunter by contrast to Chen who, at times, I find overly passive and not fully realized as a peersonality. As you can see, I am very involved in this series which is obviously a positive response to the writer's effort.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Cardiff Camel on December 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a fan of Inspector Chen and have been from the very first book The Death of a Red Heroine.

I pre-ordered this book sometime last year. I wish Qiu Xiaolong could retire from his other jobs and just write about Inspector Chen and his pals - especially "Old Hunter" so we could enjoy a new tale every year.

This book starts a little slowly and ends before I was ready to have it end, but the plotting is good, the characters are interesting and I do not tire of the descriptions of the food and meals and the novelty of the setting. (I do get a little tired of the poetry sometimes but it generally adds charm.)

I loaned my new copy to a friend to cheer her up after she had had a few rough days, but I couldn't stand to wait until she finished it for my turn - so I ordered another copy - overnight delivery. And so enjoyed reading the book this week-end.

Another winner for Qiu Xiaolong! I hope he is working on the next Inspector Chen story - how about something with Old Hunter???
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