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Patrick Anderson…[an] odd, charming and quite political detective novel…Despite its political edge, the novel has an endearing innocence.
—The Washington Post
“A meticulously crafted whodunit.” –The Japan Times
“Enjoyable!” –Publishers Weekly
“This environmental mystery is also an example of hard-hitting investigative reporting…. Despite the grim subject matter, the novel is filled with beautiful descriptions and poetry (Chen is poet as well as detective) that reinforce the beauty that is being polluted and lost. Magnificent.” –Booklist (starred)
"Peppered with poetry and told with clarity and elegance."–Kirkus Reviews
Copyright © 2012 by Qiu Xiaolong
Posted November 26, 2013
this series seems to be getting a bit tired, although the subject is timely, the longer the author lives in the US, the less he seems in touch with Shanghai lifeWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 15, 2012
While ostensibly a murder mystery, this latest Inspector Chen novel is more a polemic concerning excessive pollution, economic growth at any cost and the political and social system in China today. Still, it is so well-written, filled with poetic references as an integral part of the whole, that it is a worthy addition to the series.
Initially, Chen is invited to spend some vacation time at an exclusive resort for upper cadre (of which he isn’t one) by his mentor in Beijing who was scheduled to use a villa there. So, right off the bat, the author offers observations on how the upper layers of officials benefit, while the rest of the population doesn’t have such luxuries. Then Chen learns that the once pure waters of Tai Lake have become so polluted that fish are destroyed, the water can’t be drunk and even causes illness to inhabitants. The pollution is caused by industrial waste, unimpeded in the interest of profits and “progress.”
No sooner does Chen arrive than the general manager of a large chemical company is found murdered and Chen becomes involved, without disclosing himself as a Chief Inspector, in an unofficial investigation. He learns about the pollution from a young female engineer, and works behind the façade of a local policeman, observing, questioning and deducting in typical Chen fashion, including a long T.S. Elliot-type poem about the lake. Other than the murder solution, the criticism of societal and economic conditions in China is anything but subtle. [I wonder if the novel will ever be translated into Chinese.] Here, it is recommended.
Posted August 1, 2012
The inspector appears in other stories as well, but typically in Shanghai. This one takes place in a smaller city near a very polluted lake while the inspector is supposedly on vacation. The characters are interesting, the plot relevant, and I enjoyed the political commentary without it getting in the way of the plot. It was great to read a story in China and realize that people murder each other over the same things in every land.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.