A Drop of Chinese Blood: A Mystery (Inspector O Novels)

3.49 avg rating
( 205 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780312550639: A Drop of Chinese Blood: A Mystery (Inspector O Novels)

James Church's Inspector O novels have been hailed as "crackling good" (The Washington Post) and "tremendously clever" (Tampa Tribune), while Church himself has been embraced by critics as "the equal of le Carré" (Publishers Weekly, starred). Now Church―a former Western intelligence officer who pulls back the curtain on the hidden world of North Korea in a way that no one else can―comes roaring back with a new novel introducing Inspector O's nephew, Major Bing, the long-suffering chief of the Chinese Ministry of State Security operations on the border with North Korea.

The last place Bing expected to find the stunningly beautiful Madame Fang―a woman Headquarters wants closely watched―was on his front doorstep. Then, as suddenly as she shows up, Madame Fang mysteriously disappears across the river into North Korea, leaving in her wake both consternation and a highly sensitive assignment for Bing to bring back from the North a long missing Chinese security official. Concerned for his nephew's safety, O reluctantly helps him navigate an increasingly complex and deadly maze, one that leads down the twisted byways of O's homeland. In the tradition of Philip Kerr's Berlin Noir trilogy, and the Inspector Arkady Renko novels, A Drop of Chinese Blood presents an unfamiliar world, a perplexing universe where the rules are an enigma to the reader and even, sometimes, to Inspector O. Once again, James Church has crafted a story with beautifully spare prose and layered descriptions of a country and a people he knows by heart.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

JAMES CHURCH (a pseudonym) is a former Western intelligence officer with decades of experience in Asia.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One
 
Fang Mei-lin was the most beautiful woman in the world, and for weeks rumors had been flying around that she might show up in our neighborhood. Naturally, there was a pool at Gao’s on who would spot her first. The bet doubled on when the first sighting would be. It tripled on the location. That meant there was a lot of money in the pool, but no one bet that she’d show up on my doorstep on Tuesday, the day I always stay home to make lunch for Uncle O. You would have been crazy to make a bet like that; too bad I didn’t.
Since no one collected, Old Gao took the money for the house. There was no grumbling. Everyone knows that Gao runs the most serious gambling establishment in northeast China, and he makes the rules. He’s also very careful about the sort of betting that goes on in his place.
“No can do,” he says if I offer odds on something he considers unusual. Then he frowns and puffs on one of his awful cigarettes, an Egyptian. Boxes of them show up at his door a few times a year, payment for a bet someone lost long ago. The tobacco smells like a large animal died, but Gao doesn’t care. His only concern is making sure nothing interferes with the cash flow—in.
Given whom you can bump into at Gao’s—which is to say, a surprising number of high-level officials from the better stations in life—the place isn’t much to look at, just a shabby, one-story building off an alley in Yanji, a barely awake city thirty kilometers from the North Korean border. On the inside, Gao’s is even less impressive—three tiny rooms, each with a beat-up round table and five or six folding chairs. The walls used to be red. They still might be, but no one can tell because the old man doesn’t believe in paying a lot for electricity. Even when all three rooms are full, the place has the noise level of a tomb. People who come to Gao’s are serious about losing money, which they almost all do. Gao makes sure the experience has nothing to recommend it—no drinks, no snacks, no music, no women. You come in, you lose what you’re going to lose, and you leave. Anyone who wins keeps his mouth shut.
The iron house rule is that the betting stays simple—only horses, dogs, or cards. A sign taped to the wall spells it out for newcomers: NOTHING ELEGANT, NOTHING WEIRD. A week ago, I ignored the sign and tried to convince Gao to give me odds on something out of the ordinary. He snorted. “I don’t take money from children or idiots. Go away, Bingo. If I need your pathetic savings, I’ll come knocking.”
That might be why when there was a knock on the door Tuesday around noon, I assumed it was Gao, though I didn’t figure he wanted my money. More likely, I thought, he wanted to tell me a sad story about how Ping Man-ho, a lowlife with a taste for expensive Hong Kong suits, had stiffed him again. But when I opened the door, there was no fog of Egyptian tobacco. Instead, a delicate cloud of perfume enveloped me, followed by an eyeful of the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen. My nervous system figured it out before my brain delivered the news.
2
If Fang Mei-lin was on my doorstep, that meant she was in my territory, referred to in official Ministry of State Security correspondence as YS/SB, shorthand for Yanji Sector/Special Bureau. YS/SB doesn’t look like much on the map. It doesn’t cover a lot of real estate. It’s just a strip of mostly empty land, twenty to thirty kilometers wide, that starts at the flyblown town of Tumen perched on the narrow, winding river of the same name. From there the sector heads north and east along the river, which loops aimlessly a few times like an adolescent dragon before finally making up its mind, turning south and east toward Russia and the East Sea. YS/SB stops at a raggedy place called Quanhe, the easternmost of China’s bridge crossings into North Korea. From that crossing to the Russian border, barely twenty kilometers away, is another MSS sector chief’s headache, usually someone junior and therefore unhappy.
Yanji Sector has been described as a bad dream spilling over onto 3,000 square kilometers. Sometimes, in especially bad times, it expands to 3,250 square kilometers. The exact configuration changes depending on who at Headquarters in Beijing has just looked at pins in the map and decided that rearranging sector responsibilities is urgent to prevent things along the border from getting worse than they already are. They are always already bad. Bad is the best they ever are.
When I was handed the assignment to head Yanji Bureau, the betting at Gao’s was that I wouldn’t last a year. MSS billets on the border with North Korea usually go up in flames for one of three reasons—stress, corruption, or, as true of my predecessor, unexplained and permanent disappearance. Yanji Bureau directors rarely last eighteen months. To everyone’s surprise, this was my seventh year. I was becoming a legend in Headquarters, which meant I couldn’t get a transfer out of Yanji no matter what I tried.
The population of Yanji City can fit into a few square blocks of apartments in Shanghai. What it lacks in size, though, Yanji makes up for in hyperactivity. Rumors constantly pour in, swirl around, and stream out. Paying attention to them is a good way to waste a lot of time chasing ghosts to nowhere. That’s why it didn’t mean much when my office suddenly started picking up the rumors that Fang Mei-lin would be in northeast China. Some of these graduated from rumors to agent reports, unusually detailed about her travel plans. A few even listed Yanji as a probable destination. That gave us a good laugh. What would anyone like Fang Mei-lin want with a town like Yanji? I put a little in the betting pool at Gao’s to be friendly, but otherwise I forgot about the rumors as quickly as they crossed my desk. There was plenty else to do at the time, and my mind was focused elsewhere. That’s how I remember it, anyway.
A week or so after the rumors died down, Beijing sent out a barrage of flash messages, three of them in quick succession. Flash messages are considered very urgent on a scale of how rattled your teacup should get when one arrives. All three of them screamed at us that the lady was definitely in our neighborhood. We were to inform Headquarters immediately—immediately!—about potential threats to her safety. I did what I always do with flash messages, which is not much.
Ignoring high-priority Headquarters messages is not easy. They arrive via special couriers riding big, thundering motorcycles. The couriers all look like they’re bred on a farm where they get a diet of good genes. They all wear the same outfit—high black boots, show-off leather gloves, and a helmet with a reflective visor they don’t like to flip up so you rarely get to see their eyes. The only thing missing is trumpets when the courier walks into the office. In case motorcycles and boots don’t get the requisite attention, every flash message comes in a special envelope, double wrapped with two thick black stripes around the middle. Across the flap is the best sealing tape money can buy. The tape has been specially designed by the Ministry’s technical department to tear the hell out of any fingers careless or untutored in removing it.
In mid-May, three couriers showed up one right after another; three envelopes were signed for; three messages duly read. Then, as I said, I tossed them aside. I wouldn’t say I ignored them; I just didn’t focus.
Now, planted in my doorway, I was paying attention to nothing else. Slowly, I looked Fang Mei-lin over from head to toe, making sure there were no threats to her safety. I had gone crown to foot and was coming up the other way when she spoke. I’d heard sultry voices before, but hers was in a class by itself.
“May I come in? Or do you need to frisk me first?”
As she brushed past, her perfume hung in the air. It was the expensive stuff, and it took up all the space the little oxygen molecules are supposed to occupy. Even without oxygen, it registered that she had on a silk suit, pale blue, with matching high heels and a pearl necklace that must have cost plenty. The pearls were perfect against her skin. They were the sort of pearls that make you think oysters know what they’re doing.
“I take it you are Bing Zong-yuan.” She didn’t wait for a response. “I need to see your uncle.” Standing in the narrow hall, she looked like she owned the place and was thinking of tearing it down to build something better.
“Not possible,” I said without having to give it a second thought, which was good because I was still breathing more perfume than air. As soon as the words were out I mentally lunged to take them back. It seemed a shame—a crime, actually—to say anything that might cause this image of perfection to turn and walk out the door. The problem was that I knew my uncle would see no one, not even a goddess from Shanghai, without an appointment. From the tilt of her chin, I knew that my fears were unfounded. She wasn’t about to be brushed off so easily. In case she changed her mind, I went quickly to Plan B—a spoonful of honey.
“If you’ll follow me into the library, we can discuss what this is about. Then we’ll put our heads together”—I paused to let my heart recover from the image of her face close to mine—“and devise a request for him, my uncle, if you follow my meaning, to consider on an emergency basis. I can pull out all the stops when necessary.”
“Don’t be a fool.” The sultry voice had been checked at the entrance, replaced by one with a good deal of brass. “Your uncle and I are old friends. Just tell him I’m here. I’ll wait.” She looked at me. “Shall we close the front door? Or would you like all the flies to come in?̶...

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Church, James
Published by Minotaur Books (2012)
ISBN 10: 0312550634 ISBN 13: 9780312550639
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Letusbegin
(Ossining, NY, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Minotaur Books, 2012. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Brand New Hardcover! Pristine unmarked pages, no remainder marks, great buy straight from warehouse unread, sealed in plastic, exact artwork as listed, Bookseller Inventory # 042170627049

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 6.80
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

James Church
Published by Minotaur Books,US (2012)
ISBN 10: 0312550634 ISBN 13: 9780312550639
New Quantity Available: > 20
Print on Demand
Seller:
Pbshop
(Wood Dale, IL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Minotaur Books,US, 2012. HRD. Book Condition: New. New Book.Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days.THIS BOOK IS PRINTED ON DEMAND. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # IP-9780312550639

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 23.45
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

Church, James
Published by Minotaur Books (2012)
ISBN 10: 0312550634 ISBN 13: 9780312550639
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Book Lover's Warehouse
(Watauga, TN, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Minotaur Books, 2012. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Stated first edition with a full number line. Bookseller Inventory # 158734

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 24.99
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

Church, James
Published by Minotaur Books 11/13/2012 (2012)
ISBN 10: 0312550634 ISBN 13: 9780312550639
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 10
Seller:
BargainBookStores
(Grand Rapids, MI, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Minotaur Books 11/13/2012, 2012. Hardback or Cased Book. Book Condition: New. A Drop of Chinese Blood. Book. Bookseller Inventory # BBS-9780312550639

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 29.68
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

Church, James
Published by Minotaur Books (2017)
ISBN 10: 0312550634 ISBN 13: 9780312550639
New Hardcover Quantity Available: > 20
Print on Demand
Seller:
Murray Media
(North Miami Beach, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Minotaur Books, 2017. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used! This item is printed on demand. Bookseller Inventory # 0312550634

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 27.71
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 1.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Church, James
Published by Minotaur Books
ISBN 10: 0312550634 ISBN 13: 9780312550639
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 10
Seller:
Lakeside Books
(Benton Harbor, MI, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Minotaur Books. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0312550634 BRAND NEW, GIFT QUALITY! NOT OVERSTOCKS OR MARKED UP REMAINDERS! DIRECT FROM THE PUBLISHER!|1.2. Bookseller Inventory # OTF-S-9780312550639

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 28.29
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

7.

James Church
Published by Minotaur Books,US, United States (2012)
ISBN 10: 0312550634 ISBN 13: 9780312550639
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 10
Print on Demand
Seller:
The Book Depository US
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Minotaur Books,US, United States, 2012. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. James Church s Inspector O novels have been hailed as crackling good ( The Washington Post ) and tremendously clever ( Tampa Tribune ), while Church himself has been embraced by critics as the equal of le Carre ( Publishers Weekly , starred). Now Church - a former Western intelligence officer who pulls back the curtain on the hidden world of North Korea in a way that no one else can - comes roaring back with an unputdownable new series featuring Inspector O s nephew, Bing, the director of state security in a region in northeast China bordering North Korea. When clues point to a connection between a beautiful woman s disappearance and Bing s sensitive assignment to bring an agent across the North Korean border, O reluctantly helps him navigate an increasingly complex and deadly maze. James Church has crafted a story with beautifully spare prose and layered descriptions of a country and a people he knows by heart. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780312550639

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 32.62
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

8.

James Church
Published by Minotaur Books,US, United States (2012)
ISBN 10: 0312550634 ISBN 13: 9780312550639
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 10
Print on Demand
Seller:
The Book Depository
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Minotaur Books,US, United States, 2012. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.James Church s Inspector O novels have been hailed as crackling good ( The Washington Post ) and tremendously clever ( Tampa Tribune ), while Church himself has been embraced by critics as the equal of le Carre ( Publishers Weekly , starred). Now Church - a former Western intelligence officer who pulls back the curtain on the hidden world of North Korea in a way that no one else can - comes roaring back with an unputdownable new series featuring Inspector O s nephew, Bing, the director of state security in a region in northeast China bordering North Korea. When clues point to a connection between a beautiful woman s disappearance and Bing s sensitive assignment to bring an agent across the North Korean border, O reluctantly helps him navigate an increasingly complex and deadly maze. James Church has crafted a story with beautifully spare prose and layered descriptions of a country and a people he knows by heart. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780312550639

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 33.17
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

9.

James Church
Published by Minotaur Books,US, United States (2012)
ISBN 10: 0312550634 ISBN 13: 9780312550639
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 10
Seller:
Book Depository hard to find
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Minotaur Books,US, United States, 2012. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. James Church s Inspector O novels have been hailed as crackling good ( The Washington Post ) and tremendously clever ( Tampa Tribune ), while Church himself has been embraced by critics as the equal of le Carre ( Publishers Weekly , starred). Now Church - a former Western intelligence officer who pulls back the curtain on the hidden world of North Korea in a way that no one else can - comes roaring back with an unputdownable new series featuring Inspector O s nephew, Bing, the director of state security in a region in northeast China bordering North Korea. When clues point to a connection between a beautiful woman s disappearance and Bing s sensitive assignment to bring an agent across the North Korean border, O reluctantly helps him navigate an increasingly complex and deadly maze. James Church has crafted a story with beautifully spare prose and layered descriptions of a country and a people he knows by heart. Bookseller Inventory # BZE9780312550639

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 35.16
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

10.

Church, James
Published by Minotaur Books (2012)
ISBN 10: 0312550634 ISBN 13: 9780312550639
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 10
Seller:
Ergodebooks
(RICHMOND, TX, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Minotaur Books, 2012. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # INGM9780312550639

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 33.88
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book