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A Case of Two Cities: An Inspector Chen Novel (Inspector Chen Cao) Paperback – October 2, 2007
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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.
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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Top Customer Reviews
To be recommended to anyone who loves a crime story with the extra touch of a beautiful writing style.
After the previous head of the corruption special case squad who was also known to be a very solid upright cop is murdered in sordid circumstances, Inspector Chen is brought in and is given what might be called an Imperial warrant in a different time to do what he must. Chen discovers that the dead man had been probing a wealthy businessman, Xing Xing, who fled to the United States to escape prosecution. Xing Xing has amassed a fortune while corrupting various party officials. In America Xing is claiming that that he left for political reasons and he wants the US to deny extradition.
As Chen begins his investigation his mother's life is threatened and one of the friends he contacted for information has also been savagely murdered.
Suddenly, as he begins to delve into the lives of more corrupt officials he is told to lead a delegation of writers to the U.S. for a cultural exchange. The high officials from Beijing are aware that he is being sent to the US and so he follows orders although he feels unworthy to be leading a literary group and he knows the group for the sudden change in leadership will resent him. However Xing Xing is in LA when his tour starts and his American friend Catherine a US Marshall he became close to lives near one of the tour stops.
Chen has many doubts and obstacles. The group complains bitterly that their works are not seen on the shelves at the university they visit, but even worse they can't understand why they can't smoke wherever they want, "It is supposed to be a free country!!!" The local Chinese who are happy to see people from home and treat the visitors very well welcomes the tour group. There is a large section of LA where there are Chinese exiles who have purchased large estates with cash that they have managed to get out of China and need somewhere to hide to or launder it.
Chen recalls his father's words when he has these doubts that a man must do what he must and goes forward with his investigation despite the fact that the tour interpreter is murdered because he is thought to be Chen when they are in St. Louis.
This brings Catherine back into his life and he shows for once that he does have a desire for a private life.
But he must go back to China to finish what he began and at the moment he is caught between the old China of his father and the new China of his own generation and he understands both very well. He believes and hopes that the problems are not insurmountable.
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???
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I recently reconnected with Qui Xiaolong after stumbling upon this book in a seaside bookstore.Read more