Bamboo and Blood (Inspector O Series #3)

( 18 )

Overview

The critically acclaimed A Corpse in the Koryo brought readers into the enigmatic workings of North Korean intelligence with the introduction of a new kind of detective—-the mysterious Inspector O. In the follow-up, Hidden Moon, O threaded his way through the minefield of North Korean ministries into a larger conspiracy he was never supposed to touch.

Now the inspector returns . . .

In the winter of 1997, trying to stay alive during a famine ...

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Bamboo and Blood (Inspector O Series #3)

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Overview

The critically acclaimed A Corpse in the Koryo brought readers into the enigmatic workings of North Korean intelligence with the introduction of a new kind of detective—-the mysterious Inspector O. In the follow-up, Hidden Moon, O threaded his way through the minefield of North Korean ministries into a larger conspiracy he was never supposed to touch.

Now the inspector returns . . .

In the winter of 1997, trying to stay alive during a famine that has devastated much of North Korea, Inspector O is ordered to play host to an Israeli agent who appears in Pyongyang. When the wife of a North Korean diplomat in Pakistan dies under suspicious circumstances, O is told to investigate, with a curious proviso: Don’t look too closely at the details, and stay away from the question of missiles. O knows he can’t avoid finding out what he is supposed to ignore on a trail that leads him from the dark, chilly rooms of Pyongyang to an abandoned secret facility deep in the countryside, guarded by a lonely general; and from the streets of New York to a bench beneath a horse chestnut tree on the shores of Lake Geneva, where the Inspector discovers he is up to his ears in missiles—-and worse. Stalked by the past and wary of the future, O is convinced there is no one he can trust, and no one he can’t suspect. Swiss intelligence wants him out of the country; someone else wants him dead.

Once again, James Church’s spare, lyrical prose guides readers through an unfamiliar landscape of whispered words and shadows, a world wrapped in a level of mystery and complexity that few outsiders have experienced. With Inspector O, noir has a new home in North Korea, and James Church holds the keys.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Church once again does a brilliant job of portraying the dysfunctional, paranoid society of modern North Korea in his third novel to feature Inspector O of the ministry of public security (after 2007's Hidden Moon). When a foreigner O has been assigned to watch turns out to be working for Israeli intelligence, O and his supervisor, Pak, come under the scrutiny of a rival security service. To complicate matters, Pak asks the inspector to investigate the murder of a North Korean diplomat's wife in Pakistan, but O is restricted to merely collecting facts about the dead woman. O's efforts to actually solve the crime lead to dangerous encounters with his country's special weapons program. While the espionage elements compel, the book's main strength, as with its predecessors, derives from the small details that enable the reader to imagine life in North Korea-and from O's struggles to maintain his principles and integrity. (Dec.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

In 1997, while the people of North Korea wait to see if the new dictator will be able to step into his father's shoes, Inspector O (A Corpse in the Koryo; Hidden Moon) has been told to write a report on a murdered woman but has received no information on where her death took place or how she was killed. He also has been selected to protect a mysterious man who may or may not be an Israeli but continues to get permission to visit North Korea. Gifted storyteller Church, who obviously has a vast insider's knowledge of this mysterious country, leads the reader and Inspector O on a complex trail of misdirection and treachery. A third triumph for Church. [Library marketing; see Prepub Mystery, LJ8/08.]


—Jo Ann Vicarel
Kirkus Reviews

The murder of a diplomat's wife brings a different kind of pressure on a dogged young police inspector.

In the middle of a blizzard in the winter of 1997, North Korean Inspector O and his nervous supervisor, Chief Inspector Pak, bring in for questioning a suspicious foreigner whose playful answers indicate a lack of concern and whose explanation of his nationality—his passport says he's Swiss—keeps changing. Newly appointed to the Ministry of Public Security, O presents his story in a narrative that bristles with iconoclasm and intellectual curiosity. When O and Pak let the man go after questioning, they're scolded by two visiting Public security operatives. A short time later, one of the pair dies in a horrible car accident, and Pak wonders if there are other forces at work. But the arrival of a huge, unusual and confusing case abruptly consumes them. They're ordered to gather information on the death of a North Korean general's daughter. The only clue is her telephone request to her father for a music book he can no longer find. The daughter, a diplomat's wife, was in Pakistan when she died, and murder is suspected. Amazingly, the trail leads through both the droll foreigner and the victim of that car accident.

Former intelligence officer Church's third Inspector O mystery, set a decade before the first two (Hidden Moon, 2007, etc.), finds the inspector no less acerbic and the author no more straightforward. This one's by turns dazzling and boring, frustrating and insightful.

Agent: Bob Mecoy/Creative Book Services

From the Publisher
Critical Acclaim for the Inspector O Series

"Church once again does a brilliant job of portraying the dysfunctional, paranoid society of modern North Korea in his third novel to feature Inspector O....While the espionage elements compel, the book's main strength, as with its predecessors, derives from the small details that enable the reader to imagine life in North Korea—and from O's struggles to maintain his principles and integrity." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Hidden Moon

“[Hidden Moon] . . . is like nothing else I’ve ever read. . . . Church creates an utterly convincing, internally consistent world of the absurd where orders mean the opposite of what they say and paperwork routinely gets routed to oblivion.” —-Halle Ephron, The Boston Globe

“The book’s often sharp repartee is reminiscent of Raymond Chandler’s dialogue, while the corrupt North Korean bureaucracy provides an exotic but entirely convincing noir backdrop. . . . Like Marlowe and Spade before him, Inspector O navigates the shadows and, every now and then, finds truth in the half-light.” —-Marina Malenic, The Wall Street Journal

“Church uses his years of intelligence work to excellent advantage here, delivering one duplicitous plot twist after another. . . . The author’s affection for the landscape and people of Korea is abundantly evident. . . . A stunning conclusion.” —-The Washington Post

Hidden Moon reads more like a spy novel by a Korean Kafka. Final word: fascinating.” —-Rocky Mountain News

“Church’s spartan prose is a perfect match for the sparseness of the North Korean landscape.” —-Charleston Gazette

“The real pleasure of Hidden Moon is its conversations, loaded down with layers of secrecy and suspicion that surface words are meaningless in the face of buried intention.” —-The Baltimore Sun

A Corpse in the Koryo

“A crackling good mystery novel, filled with unusual characters involved in a complex plot that keeps you guessing to the end.” —-The Washington Post

“An impressive debut that calls to mind such mystery thrillers as Martin Cruz Smith’s Gorky Park.” —-Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A new offering that reminds you of why you started reading mysteries and thrillers in the first place.” —-The Chicago Tribune

“Impressive . . . the author has crafted a complex character with rough charm to spare, and in eternally static North Korea, he has a setting that will fascinate readers for sequels to come.” —-Tim Morrison, Time magazine, Asia edition

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312601294
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 2/16/2010
  • Series: Inspector O Series , #3
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 701,849
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

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

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 18 )
Rating Distribution

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(15)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 17 of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 15, 2010

    The Inspector O series by James Church should not be missed

    James Church is the author of a series unique in its setting. Inspector O is a detective in Pyongyang, North Korea but his duties cross into intelligence in the closed society that sees enemies everywhere.

    BAMBOO AND BLOOD is the third in the Inspector O series but it is a prequel beginning in the winter of 1997. North Korea is in the midst of a famine that is devastating the country. The very young and the very old are dying and only people of strong will are likely to survive until the spring. Restaurants serve hot water as the beverage to accompanies meals of soup made by cooking a bit of wood in more hot water.

    The country is hiding its desperation from the rest of the world so it is a great surprise to Inspector O when he is asked to play host to an Israeli agent who is able to come and go seemingly at will into a society that is a mystery to its own people.

    Jeno introduces information about the death in Pakistan of the wife of a North Korean diplomat. O is assigned to investigate and told not to look at things too closely and to avoid any discussions about missiles. O knows nothing about missiles and doesn't understand what he is being sent to investigate but suddenly he is given a passport and a plane ticket. Inspector O finds Jeno always nearby as he travels from Pyongyang, to a nearly abandoned factory in the countryside, to New York city, to Geneva. There O finds himself attached to a diplomatic mission about which he knows little, meets a Swiss security officer, 'M. Beret', and realizes that someone, perhaps his brother, is trying to kill him.

    Inspector O is a great find. He is a simple man who lives quietly, is proud of his heritage and the memory of his deceased grandfather, a hero of the revolution. He always carries with him pieces of wood, small pieces that he uses like worry beads. '...I might as well have a piece of wood that would help me sort through the case. Something pragmatic. Elm was good that way. Most trees succumb to nonsense at some point in their lives. They get top heavy. They forget their roots. Not elms. From beginning to end, they remain stately and pragmatic.'

    O could be talking about himself. He is worth meeting.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2012

    Robin PLEASE READ!!!!!

    I got locked out!!! T_T saddness.......

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2012

    Olliver

    I would like an evee please.*hands the clerk 25 pokedollars*

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2012

    Rachel

    I would like a Turtwing

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2012

    David

    He curiously walks in

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2012

    Lash

    Mew pleez

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2012

    Unknown

    Ill like piplup enforne ivysore and picachue $900 dollars to you

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2012

    Alize

    Hi.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2012

    Anime

    I would like a vulpix egg. Here is fifty pokedollars. Keep the change.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2012

    Rue

    Hands ppl the pokemon in pokeballs

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2012

    Rose

    A picachu egg. $500 to you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2012

    Cody

    Where are u clerk btw i want a reggigigas egg thats a femalw for my male reggigigas.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2012

    Wolf

    WHAT THE HELL I THIS???? A BLACKMRKET?? YOU DONT BUY POKEMON! YOU MAKE THEM YOUR FRIEND BY SHOWING THEM YOU THEY CAN TRUST YOU!!!!! AND THIS IS MY DEN!!!!

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  • Posted January 31, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    An unusual detective shows us life in North Korea

    James Church's series of North Korean Police Detective Inspector O is something of an anomoly in the world of detective fiction. Here we have a keen-eyed detective whose field of expertise is not so much citizen-on-citizen violence as government-on-citizen violence. While Inspector O is a patriot of uncommon fidelity, the angle from which we view his mind working is not so much internal as external. We, facilitated by the author Church, are watching Inspector O make decisions and we are making an analysis. We are foreign agents--we are being taught to be foreign agents--in this series written by a foreign agent. We are being shown what to look for, and this is latest edition, we are even being taught tradecraft. Wacky tradecraft, but there you have it. I like Inspector O very much. The author has a depth of compassion for him and his close compatriots that helps us to imagine them with a depth of character and a degree of humanity. We know so little about North Korea, every bit of description helps us "to put flesh on the bones", so to speak. And if even a portion of the descripton given us here of that woe-begone country is true, North Korea and its people are in a world of hurt. I especially liked this third book in the series because Inspector O was given his head and allowed to travel overseas. He was quite witty when describing Geneva and New York, the "talks" going on there, and the spymasters he encountered. Much of the best parts of this book consisted of conversation rather than description, so Church is taking a unique jog in the business of series writing and engaging the reader in a way different from others writing detective series. Church's method is more cerebral, and less kinetic, the characters more likely to suffer psychological damage than physical. Approach this with an open mind, and I believe you will be amused, but will also have plenty of food for thought.

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  • Posted October 17, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    a great tale

    In North Korea the Ministry of Public Security Inspector O is assigned to follow a foreigner. O quickly realizes the outsider is working for the Israelis. However, O also realizes that at least one or more other government security agencies are watching him and his superior Chief Inspector Pak.<BR/><BR/>Meanwhile Pak assigns O to investigate the murder of a North Korean diplomat's wife in Pakistan. However, he is warned not to solve the case, but to only gather known facts about the victim. Bristling over the limitation, O tries to solve the homicide, which only leads to more trouble for the dedicated inspector from other security agencies for his clues lead to the top secret special weapons program. <BR/><BR/>The third Inspector O investigation (see CORPSE IN THE KORYO and HIDDEN MOON) is once again a great tale more so because of a the deep look into North Korea. O is excellent as he knows other agencies are spying on him to insure he learns very little as the need to know is always restricted. The whodunit and the Israeli espionage caper are both well written to showcase Inspector O¿s skills and the paranoia of a regime that sees everyone even loyal citizens as the enemy. <BR/><BR/>Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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