The Mao Case (Inspector Chen Series #6)

The Mao Case (Inspector Chen Series #6)

4.4 5
by Qiu Xiaolong

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Chief Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Department is often assigned cases considered politically "sensitive," and now the Minister of Public Security insists that Chen personally take on a 'special assignment.' Leery of international embarrassment, the party is concerned about rumors related to Chairman Mao. Jiao, the granddaughter of an actress who had a


Chief Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Department is often assigned cases considered politically "sensitive," and now the Minister of Public Security insists that Chen personally take on a 'special assignment.' Leery of international embarrassment, the party is concerned about rumors related to Chairman Mao. Jiao, the granddaughter of an actress who had a 'special relationship' to Mao has moved into a luxury apartment and become involved with a new social set centered around the remnants of pre-Communist Shanghai society. All without any visible means of support.

Worried that Jiao has inherited some sort of artifact that could prove damaging to Mao's reputation, Chen has been given a few short days to infiltrate her social circle, determine if the feared material exists and, if it does, retrieve it quietly. And if he fails to solve this 'Mao case,' the consequences will be unpleasant for all concerned.

Editorial Reviews

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

Publishers Weekly

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.)

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Library Journal

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
Kirkus Reviews
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.

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Inspector Chen Cao Series , #6
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.28(w) x 5.60(h) x 0.79(d)

Meet the Author

QIU XIAOLONG is a poet, professor and author of five previous novels featuring Inspector Chen. Born and raised in Shanghai, where he was a renowned poet and translator, Qiu lives with his family in St. Louis, MO.

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The Mao Case (Inspector Chen Cao Series #6) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
The Beijing leadership is concerned with the sudden appearance of wealth by a seemingly impoverished young artist living well above her means. Normally no one would think twice of Jiao¿s affluence, but she is the granddaughter of Xie, a film star who Chairman Mao personally liked; additionally Jiao¿s mother died during the Cultural Revolution cleansing. Needing expeditious subtly to determine if the painter is peddling ¿Mao material¿ five decades old that could embarrass the Party and China, the brass hand the Top Secret case to Shanghai Police Department's Special Case Chief Inspector Chen Cao; known for his success, speed and especially discretion.

Chen begins with the mother whose life was explored in a bestseller. Using Cloud and Rain as access, Chen goes undercover pretending to be an author conducting research into a historical novel. This enables him to meet Jiao and her friends at the still alive Xie¿s run down home. There the older woman hosts a group who cherishes the pre-Communist culture until murder leave Chen suspecting grandmother and or granddaughter as the killer(s) especially their shared convenient alibi.

The sixth Chen Chinese police procedural (see WHEN RED IS BLACK and RED MANDARIN DRESS) contains a strong investigation, but it is the profound look at the early Mao days in comparison to modern day China that brings the uniqueness to the story line. Chen is at his best with his asides about brass, bureaucrats, and bull as he diligently works the ¿Mao material¿ inquiry that turns into a homicide; he is more comfortable with the latter as the former is loaded with pompous interference. Mindful of the Bush Administration concealing Korean War Era documents that have been declassified for years and open to the public in the government archives, fans of the Shanghai inspector will enjoy his latest case as a reluctant Chen knows the penalty of dealing with anything Maoist even decades old.

Harriet Klausner
Maika More than 1 year ago
I love this mystery series. I cannot put them down I am so amazed at the charaters and the insight into China and life there in the aftermath of Mao. I am always waiting for the next book to be published. Please Hurry!!
Bayadere More than 1 year ago
I have never read a detective story about China today, much less one which also tries to understand the nightmare Mao put them through, yet I kept having terminal deja vu. When it comes to termini, I prefer the Gare du Nord. I kept thinking that, barring the food, there wasn't much to separate this book from stories about life under the Nazis in Germany.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago