Tucked away from the building sites of modern Shanghai are the beautiful mansions once owned by the smartest families in 1930s China. They have since been bought by rich businessmen and high-ranking members of the Communist Party. All except one. The owner is an old painter who holds a glittering party each night: swing jazz plays for his former neighbours, who dance, remember old times and forget for an evening the terrors that followed. But questions are being asked. How can he afford such a lifestyle? His paintings? Blackmail? A triad connection? Prostitution? Inspector Chen is asked to investigate discreetly what is going on behind the elegant facade. But, before he can get close to anyone, one of the girls is found murdered in the garden and another is terrified she will be next. Chen's quest for answers will take Chen to a strange businessman, triads, Chairman Mao himself and a terrible secret the Party will go to any length to conceal.
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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.Review:
Xiaolong's astute rendering of the many contradictions of contemporary Chinese life centres on the brilliant Inspector Chen ... A series that might well get you hooked. Sunday Telegraph Chen has been likened to Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse in his cerebral sleuthing; he also has a glass-half-empty ambivalence towards his political masters...a meditation on power, myth and the policing of history. Independent Chen is a great creation, an honourable man in a world full of deception and treachery. Guardian With strong and subtle characterisation, Qiu Xiaolong draws us into a fascinating world where the greatest mystery revealed is the mystery of present-day China itself. -- John Harvey The first police whodunnit written by a Chinese author in English and set in contemporary China ... its quality matches its novelty. The Times The usual enjoyable mix of murder, poetry and contradictions of contemporary Chinese culture. Chen is a splendid creation. Independent on Sunday A vivid portrait of modern Chinese society ... full of the sights, sounds and smells of Shanghai ... A work of real distinction. Wall Street Journal 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 Gripping ... Chen stands in a class with Martin Cruz Smith's Russian investigator, Arkady Renko, and P.D. James's Scotland Yard inspector, Adam Dalgliesh. Publishers Weekly Wonderful. Washington Post
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Book Description Sceptre, 2009. Hard Cover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. Brand new copy. Bookseller Inventory # 033537