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Chinese Whispers: A China Thriller (China Thrillers) Hardcover – October 1, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

May's fine sixth entry in his contemporary China series (The Firemaker, etc.) offers some fresh variations on the catch-the-serial-killer within an autocratic society plot. A fiend is copying Jack the Ripper's m.o. almost exactly—savagely butchering prostitutes, sending body parts in the mail and boasting of his atrocities in letters. The authorities' efforts to keep the pattern from the public are shattered when Lynn Pan, a Chinese-American, falls victim to the Beijing Ripper. Pan had just shown a new law enforcement tool to Beijing CID section chief Li Yan and his superiors, a brain scan that would make traditional lie detectors obsolete. Li suspects Pan discovered something during the demonstration that led to her murder. As Li pursues that theory, an unknown enemy in a position of power threatens his career and his family. May nicely handles the business of using mental fingerprints to identify the criminal. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Publishers Weekly (06/29/2009):
May's fine sixth entry in his contemporary China series (The Firemaker, etc.) offers some fresh variations on the catch-the-serial-killer within an autocratic society plot. A fiend is copying Jack the Ripper's m.o. almost exactlysavagely butchering prostitutes, sending body parts in the mail and boasting of his atrocities in letters. The authorities' efforts to keep the pattern from the public are shattered when Lynn Pan, a Chinese-American, falls victim to the Beijing Ripper. Pan had just shown a new law enforcement tool to Beijing CID section chief Li Yan and his superiors, a brain scan that would make traditional lie detectors obsolete. Li suspects Pan discovered something during the demonstration that led to her murder. As Li pursues that theory, an unknown enemy in a position of power threatens his career and his family. May nicely handles the business of using mental fingerprints to identify the criminal. "(Oct.)" Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

"Employing a tightly woven plot and detailing interpersonal relationships that reveal more of his protagonists' background, May, the only Western member of the Chinese Crime Writers' Association, has outdone himself in this sixth entry (after Snakehead ) in his China series. This is sure to please readers who like watching their heroes face life-threatening situations in far-off locales." -- Library Journal starred review of Chinese Whispers

"This is a strong entry in an excellent series and should be suggested to readers who like either police thrillers or international mysteries..." --Booklist of Chinese Whispers



Kirkus Review - Adult (07/01/2009):
A Jack the Ripper wannabe stalks Beijing. Li Yan, head of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Beijing Municipal Police, is appalled when four prostitutes are murdered in a manner exactly replicating that of the Ripper 120 years ago. The mastermind even sends him precisely worded taunts indicating his next venture. Then Lynn Pann, the professor running a supposedly foolproof lie-detection technique called the Mermer program, is murdered in a manner indicating even more similarities to the Ripper's work. Is a copycat killer on the loose, or is the perp one of the volunteer subjects Pann examined with Mermer? Further complicating matters, Li's questioning of several subjects, all higher-ups in the Beijing political hierarchy, has explosive results. His American lover Margaret's attempt to renew her visa is denied. Their son is abducted. Li's sister is jailed on charges of cocaine trafficking. Li himself is ousted from his position in the Municipal Police. Equally troubling, a polygraph expert trying to decipher Pann's notes takes a header out his apartment window. Working unofficially, Li concentrates on inconsistencies revealed by Mermer in order to zero in on the most likely suspects. Margaret will be seriously endangered before a final knife thrust ends the search. The repeat tour of the Ripper's dissections is just plain grisly. But the interesting locale and May's ongoing study of the difficulties in conducting Chinese-American romances (The Runner, 2003, etc.) are likely to interest a broader range of readers.

(COPYRIGHT (2009) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

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Product Details

  • Series: China Thrillers
  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (October 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590586085
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590586082
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #958,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

"Peter May is a writer I'd follow to the ends of the earth" New York Times

Peter May is the multi award-winning author of:

- the award-winning Lewis Trilogy set in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland;
- the China Thrillers, featuring Beijing detective Li Yan and American forensic pathologist Margaret Campbell;
- the Enzo Files, featuring Scottish forensic scientist Enzo MacLeod, which is set in France;
and Entry Island (January 2014, Quercus UK) the latest of several standalone books.

He has also had a successful career as a television writer, creator, and producer.

One of Scotland's most prolific television dramatists, he garnered more than 1000 credits in 15 years as scriptwriter and script editor on prime-time British television drama. He is the creator of three major television drama series and presided over two of the highest-rated serials in his homeland before quitting television to concentrate on his first love, writing novels.

Born and raised in Scotland he lives in France.

After being turned down by all the major UK publishers, the first of the The Lewis Trilogy - The Blackhouse - was published in France as L'Ile des Chasseurs d'Oiseaux where it was hailed as "a masterpiece" by the French national newspaper L'Humanité. His novels have a large following in France. The trilogy has won several French literature awards, including one of the world's largest adjudicated readers awards, the Prix Cezam.

The Blackhouse was published in English by the award-winning Quercus (a relatively young publishing house which did not exist when the book was first presented to British publishers). It went on to become an international best seller, and was shortlisted for both Barry Award and Macavity Award when it was published in the USA.

The Blackhouse won the US Barry Award for Best Mystery Novel at Bouchercon in Albany NY, in 2013.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on October 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The Chinese authorities try to conceal the serial killings of four prostitutes by the Beijing Ripper, whose methods are reminiscent of the late nineteenth century notorious Victorian psychopath. They actually were somewhat successful until the victim is visiting Chinese American Professor Lynn Pann, in Beijing to show new law enforcement tools using the Mermer brain scan method to the Municipal Police Chief of CID Li Yan.

Li investigates the latest homicide with plenty of superiors watching his every move. He thinks the motive is related the Mermer method. As he begins to follow the clues based on the American finding something about one of her subjects, someone with power is trying to destroy him by denying his American lover's visa renewal, kidnapping their son, arresting his sister for drug trafficking and finally firing Li. As an expert falls from a window, Li works the case unofficially, which in China means illegally.

This is a gripping at times gruesome Ripper police procedural with the freshness being the Communist authorization government interfering in Li's investigation and his romance with his beloved American. The story line is fast-paced on both fronts as Li struggles with ending a serial killer's murder spree while confronting all sorts of assaults on his loved ones from an unknown adversary with a grudge and highly connected. Fans will appreciate this super Chinese serial killer police procedural and seek previous Li Yan cases (see THE FIREMAKER, KILLING ROOM and SNAKEHEAD); especially those in Beijing.

Harriet Klausner
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Louis Doyle on September 24, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Li Yan and Margaret have done it again. This would make a terrific TV series. Peter May transports you to each of his characters places of work. Whether it be the bitter wind swept far north of Scotland, the beautiful countryside and cities of France or Beijing and the wonderful history and culture of China. He is a master storyteller and I am dreading if he decides to kill off any of his literary characters. Cant wait for the new books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By dianne beckey on January 16, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This continues to be a thrilling book about Detective Li Yan by author Peter May. It describes the characters well and takes the reader to the edge of frustration as to how the story will turn out. Once again it is set in China and is a wonderfully entertaining way of finding out something about Beijing and China culturally in general. It is a puzzle as to how someone is copycatting Jack the Ripper in every detail of each 'seria'l killing of young women. An entertaining novel.
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By Louis Doyle on September 24, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Li Yan and Margaret have done it again. This would make a terrific TV series. Peter May transports you to each of his characters places of work. Whether it be the bitter wind swept far north of Scotland, the beautiful countryside and cities of France or Beijing and the wonderful history and culture of China. He is a master storyteller and I am dreading if he decides to kill off any of his literary characters. Cant wait for the new books.
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By Miss Mia on July 8, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dark, intense series set in China. Has a real sense of place. Wish Peter M. would right more soon. Hard to get these books in US, but worth the effort if you do not mind your mysteries gritty. Appreciate a strong male and female lead, both equally well developed. You care about these characters. Mysteries are well plotted.
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This is Peter May back to his best. Once you get into the story you have just to find out who the villain in the piece is. And yet there are sufficient loose ends from which to start a sequel. Again great attention to detail and the local Chinese scene.
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