From the Publisher
“Qiu's deftly paced suspense keeps the reader flipping pages...” Publisher's Weekly
“No one writes about modern China...the way the sensitivity and caring of this author. For all mystery collections.” Library Journal (starred review)
“Stylistically cadenced and charmingly mannered...very clever.” Winnipeg Free Press
“Full, as always, of crisp detail and vivid atmospherics...” Booklist
Reviled or revered, the specter of Mao still looms large over contemporary China, as shown in Qiu's cerebral sixth mystery to feature Chief Insp. Chen Cao (after 2007's Red Mandarin Dress). Just how charged that legacy remains becomes clear to the unorthodox but uncompromising Shanghai policeman as soon as he receives a top secret new assignment. Beijing wants Chen to find out-fast-the source of beautiful young painter Jiao's sudden wealth and whether it might be linked to any potentially embarrassing "Mao material" inherited from her ill-fated grandmother, a movie queen and onetime favorite of the late chairman. When Chen goes undercover to infiltrate Jiao's fashionable social circle, he discovers a group nostalgic for an idealized pre-Communist past-as well as deadly danger. Qiu's deftly paced suspense keeps the reader flipping pages until the over-the-top climax, but what lingers is his compelling portrait of China past and present, the eternal phoenix rising from the ashes. (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In his sixth series outing (after Red Mandarin Dress), Chief Inspector Chen, working directly under the Central Party Committee, must find whatever object Chairman Mao gave to an old mistress that could potentially embarrass the Chinese government. Working under cover, he ferrets out small details of Mao's relationship with the actress/mistress Sheng and her family. Chen chips away at the puzzle, which ultimately turns into a murder investigation. No one writes about modern China, still dealing with the residual effects of the Cultural Revolution and the larger-than-life image of Mao, with the sensitivity and caring of this author. For all mystery collections. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ11/1/08.]
Jo Ann Vicarel
A Shanghai inspector reluctantly probes a case linked to the late Chairman Mao. With his reputation for discretion and his background as a poet and critic, Chief Inspector Chen Cao (Red Mandarin Dress, 2007, etc.) is the likeliest choice from the Shanghai Police Department's Special Case group to take on a sensitive assignment. A young woman named Jiao, whose movie actress grandmother was a favorite of Chairman Mao 50 years ago, may have inherited important information that the government feels compelled to know. (Chen's disdain for the bureaucracy is well-known to series readers; his ongoing inner monologue wraps both reflection and incisive humor in elegant prose). Adding to the mystery is the fact that Jiao lives in a luxury apartment whose cost is apparently beyond her means. Jiao's mother Qian, who died in a mysterious "accident" during the Cultural Revolution, was the subject of a bestseller called Cloud and Rain in Shanghai, with which Chen begins his research. Pretending to write a historical novel, Chen meets the young woman, an aspiring painter, at the dilapidated mansion of Xie, who teaches art classes and has frequent parties there. Initially, it's the disparity between the present and the past as Chen is able to piece it together, rather than the pursuit of Jiao's secret, that gives the story depth and suspense. But a murder in Xie's garden shifts Chen's focus, leaving Xie and Jiao two strong suspects who each provide the other a convenient alibi. Chen's sixth case is every bit as engrossing as its predecessors.