The eighth novel in Qiu Xiaolong's acclaimed Chinese crime series sees Inspector Chen confronted by a terrible choice between Party politics or his principles - with his career at stake.
Chief Inspector Chen Cao never had a choice about his career. A poet by training, he was assigned to the Shanghai Police Department after college. To his own surprise, he became an excellent detective, and now he's in line to take over the top political position in the department. Which is why the Party has chosen him for the investigation into the death of Zhou Keng.
Zhou Keng was running the Shanghai Housing Development Committee when a number of his corrupt practices were exposed. Removed from his position and placed into detention, he apparently hanged himself while under guard.
The Party is anxious to have Zhou's death declared a suicide, but the sequence of events doesn't quite add up. Now Chen will have to decide what to do - follow the party line, or seek the justice his position requires and risk angering powerful people...
Praise for the Inspector Chen series - :
The usual enjoyable mix of murder, poetry and contractions of contemporary Chinese culture. Chen is a splendid creation, with his facility for quoting Tang Dynasty poetry and T S Eliot, his quiet devotion to his duty, his unhappy love life and his appreciation of good food. - Independent on Sunday
Qiu Xiaolong is one of the brightest stars in the firmament of modern literary crime fiction. His Inspector Chen mysteries dazzle as they entertain, combining crime with Chinese philosophy, poetry and food, Triad gangsters and corrupt officials. - Canberra Times, Australia
With strong and subtle characterisation, Qui Xiaolong draws us into a fascinating world where the greatest mystery revealed is the mystery of present-day China itself. - John Harvey
A vivid portrait of modern Chinese society...full of the sights, sounds and smells of Shanghai...A work of real distinction. - Wall Street Journal
Chen is a great creation, an honourable man in a world full of deception and treachery - Guardian
Qiu Xiaolong (pronounced 'Joe Shau-long') was born in Shanghai. The Cultural Revolution began in his last year of elementary school, and out of school, out of job, he studied English by himself in a local park.
In 1977, he began his studies at East China Normal University in Shanghai, and then the Chinese Academy of Social Science in Beijing. After graduation, he worked at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences as an associate research professor, published poems, translations and criticism, and became a member of the Chinese Writers' Association.
In 1988, he came to Washington University in St. Louis, U.S. as a Ford foundation fellow to do a project on Eliot, but after the Tiananmen tragedy of 1989, he decided to stay on. He then obtained a Ph.D. in comparative literature at Washington University and taught there.
Having won several awards for his poetry in English, he moved on to write a novel about contemporary Chinese society in transition, which developed into the critically acclaimed, award-winning Inspector Chen series. The series has been translated into sixteen languages. In addition, Qiu Xiaolong has published a poetry collection, several poetry translations, and a collection of linked stories (also serialized in Le Monde). He lives in St. Louis with his wife and daughter.