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Set in modern China, West's mystery parallels the solution of a crime with the struggle of political loyalties in the mind of dedicated Beijing police detective Wang Anzhuang. Wang was a loyal party member, but his faith was shaken by the brutality of Tianamen Square. Now when a murder points to Triad mob treachery leading to the Party, Wang must confront his faith once again, reconciling loyalty with duty, while fighting for his reputation, and his life.
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One reason we read mysteries is because they provide an easy way into exotic lives, times, and places. There have been a few good crime stories set in contemporary China (Flower Net, Playing for Thrills), but Christopher West's first book about Inspector Wang Anzhuang of the Beijing Central Investigations Department is unique in its straightforward attention to the details of everyday life and police work. In just a few words, we find out how deeply Wang feels about his country's culture ("The on-stage action subsided," West writes about an opera performance. "An ingenue began to sing, alone except for an erhu, a two-stringed violin that had been played in Wang's home province of Shandong for thousands of years. The inspector felt his heart wrench: the scraping fiddle and the lilting, lovelorn voice created a feeling of exquisite melancholy.") A few pages later, Wang's spirits sag as he's called upon to fill out yet another official form of self-criticism about his thoughts following the Tiananmen Square massacre. Moments like these focus and humanize a complicated story about the murder of a "blue lantern"--as new recruits to a criminal Triad lodge are called--and the continuing thefts of cultural artifacts from an archeological site. Another fine moment: as Wang visits a Triad leader, the man's daughter sings in another room. "Oh, I believe in yesterday... The gangster shook his head. There was a look of genuine sadness in his eyes. 'I wish she'd sing something a bit more cheerful.' And Chinese, Wang thought." --Dick Adler
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Book Description Harper Collins, 1994. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110002325136
Book Description Harper Collins, 1994. Condition: New. Richard Duckett; (illustrator). book. Seller Inventory # M0002325136