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Enigma of China: An Inspector Chen Novel (Inspector Chen Cao) Hardcover – June 18, 2013
Best Books of the Year So Far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
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Top Customer Reviews
Although I have enjoyed the series none of the books have captured the quality of the first book, "Death of a Chinese Heroine". The characters mostly carry forward from that book and have been underdeveloped as the series progresses. The lead character, inspector Chen is a poet by nature and presents an interesting way for the reader to experience this changing culture. My reviews have been consistent in stating that Qiu Xiaolong needed to do more to develop his cast of characters... even inspector Chen. Yet as each new book appears the writing style has become more simplistic and less descriptive. I liked the last book in the series "Don't Cry, Tai Lake" but this latest book like its title is truly an enigma. It's not awful but it sure is weak and under written and disappointing to us fans who want to see more character growth.
Enigma is more like an outline... purely a procedural crime story. No character development and limited plot. And what happened to the unique time period and cultural changes? There is not one mention as to what year we are now in although the story seems to be following current Shanghi events focused as it is on the potential bubble in the cities high priced housing boom. So how old is Inspector Chen now? I would guess early fifties. How has growing older impacted Chen and as his mother says what does he really think about his failure to get a wife? We get the hint in last two books of possible relationships but neither goes anywhere and seem to service the plot more than anything.Read more ›
Chen is assigned to function as a consultant to a police investigation into the suicide of a corrupt Shanghai housing official. The police have been instructed to "confirm" the suicide. But Chen and the investigating detective suspect murder.
A plethora of agencies are investigating, each with its own agenda. This in itself is suspicious and a clear sign of danger to anyone seeking the truth.
Basically this novel is a about the Chinese government vs. the Internet, which functions as the only genuine news source in China and the only political tool available to the people. We learn about the protest techniques of the "netizens" and the devastating attacks against corrupt officials launched online by means of "crowd-sourced investigations."
Qui Xiolong's novels always give us a fascinating picture of life in the new China, and this book is no exception. From "eating girls" in elite restaurants to "human-flesh searches" on the Web, a bizarre society emerges in these pages.
The Chief Inspector Chen novels are not remarkable for devious plots or action scenes. I love them for their ambience, their leisurely contemplative mood. In the midst of puzzling over a case, Chen is forever reciting lines of ancient poetry to himself, and occasionally to a pretty young woman. On a visit to his mother in the hospital, he'll recall a Tang Dynasty poem. And urgent as this investigation is, Chen always finds time for tea, noodles and (when the pressure is really on) an exotic meal.
I love the way Xiaolong weaves classical allusions and folk sayings into the texture of the story. This is literature, not a mere thriller - a subtle mix of exquisite writing, murder and political intrigue.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Another excellent Inspecter Chen novel. Qiu Xialong's work is a joy to read.Published 2 days ago by Joy Hood
I loved his first few books , so was stunned that whole chapters in this one can be skipped without missing the story line. Read morePublished 6 days ago by Dr. Karen Ericksen
Highly recommended, I've enjoyed them all. Hardly action packed but interesting insights into an evolving China.Published 9 days ago by Amazon Customer
Fascinating story line full of complex characters. Educational about how Chinese cope with government and crime.Published 21 days ago by Jimmie Pope
Yet another great read, started this series a few years ago now not really expecting a lot to be honest but what a surprise hooking me from the beginning with the smart writing and... Read morePublished 29 days ago by Graham Whiteley
His best to date -- hard to believe for the 8th in the series, but he started the series with a very good book and he's kept improving since; this one is simply superb! Read morePublished 1 month ago by B. Moret
This book compares very favourably with the other really good books in this series. There is much more focus on the difficulties facing Chen as he struggles between the two... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Retroman
great mystery, but based on Bo XiLai, so that makes it a little more predictable than others he has writtenPublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
A well written and interesting story. The main character is a high ranking police officer; he was power but uses it modestly. Read morePublished 3 months ago by DS