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A Case of Two Cities [Paperback]

Qiu Xiaolong
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Book Description

10 Jan 2008

Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Bureau is summoned by an official of the Party to lead a highly charged corruption investigation. Tentacles have spread through the police force, the civil service, the vice trade and deep into the criminal underworld. The principal figure and his family have long since fled to the United States, beyond the reach of the Chinese government. But the network is still intact and it is only a matter of time before it becomes stronger than before.

Chen is charged - and it is a job he cannot refuse - with uncovering those responsible, and destroying the organisation from the top down to its roots. In a twisting case that reunites him with his counterpart from the US Marshals service - Inspector Catherine Rohn - Chen must find a measure of justice in a corrupt, expedient world.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre; 1 edition (10 Jan 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340898534
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340898536
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 339,068 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Qiu Xiaolong 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 criticisms, 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 and write in English instead. 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 - Death of a Red Heroine, A Loyal Character Dancer, When Red is Black, A Case of Two Cities, Red Mandarin Dress and, soon to be published, The Mao Case. 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.

Product Description


'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 starred review)

'Chen is a great creation, an honourable man in a world full of deception and treachery' (Guardian )

A luminescent synthesis of a thriller and a literary novel (Independent on A LOYAL CHARACTER DANCER)

'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)

'As modern China's profile rises, so too does the stock of literature from and about it. But Shanghai-born Qiu Xiaolong's Inspector Chen detective series is one of the freshest and most unpredictable of the lot. He is deft at delivering clever insights and plot twists that entangle both Communist Party officials and their critics. His protagonist, Chief Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Bureau, tracks down murderers and cheats against the backdrop of ordinary folks struggling to reconcile social upheaval and their lingering nostalgia for Chairman Mao. An honest cop whose personal ethics often conflict with the politically expedient orders from above, Chen embodies the confusion--both ideological and spiritual--that haunts modern China.' (Newsweek)

'Stupendous . . . It does what detective fiction can do best: it captures the details, the grit of everyday life . . . A matchless pearl.' (Fresh Air, National Public Radio, USA on DEATH OF A RED HEROINE)

'Qiu gives a fresh perspective on the forces shaping a new China and the influences of the Cultural Revolution and then Tiananmen in 1989.' (Sunday Morning Post, Hong Kong)

'A vivid portrait of modern Chinese society ... full of the sights, sounds and smells of Shanghai.' (Wall Street Journal )

'A CASE OF TWO CITIES is Qiu Xiaolong's fourth novel in a series of compelling Shanghai crime novels . . . This fast-moving crime novel admirably depicts the intriguing struggles of characters grasping a foothold in a new and rising China.' (TLS)

'With strong and subtle characterisation, Qui Xiaolong draws us into a fascinating world where the greatest mystery revealed is the mystery of present-day China itself' (John Harvey)

'A fascinating picture of the new China emerges . . . the gentle, erudite Chen is its ideal interpreter' (Independent on Sunday)

'Leisurely, atmospheric and rich in behind-the-scenes detail . . . As enjoyable as the scrumptious Shanghai meals often scoffed' (Boyd Tonkin, Independent)

Book Description

'As modern China's profile rises, so too does the stock of literature from and about it. But Shanghai-born Qiu Xiaolong's Inspector Chen detective series is one of the freshest and most unpredictable of the lot' Newsweek

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Fourth Book in the Inspector Chen Series 18 Feb 2008
'A Case of Two Cities' is the fourth book in the Inspector Chen series. This time Chen is called upon to look into corruption across all levels of the Communist party. The previous officer charged with this duty was found dead in a brothel having taken a large dose of 'Chinese viagra' - seemingly framed and unable to clear his name. The stakes are high for Chen and he is in considerable danger as he pursues the Triad businessman, Xing.

It is as the investigation gets underway that Chen is sent to America to head a Chinese Writer's Conference and he reunites with his 'love interest' from one of the earlier novels - Catherine Rohn.

I had been becoming steadily more and more disappointed wth this series as I feel that none of the subsequent books match up to the first book in this series, 'Death of a Red Heroine'. This novel is slightly more involved, but again does not have the same depth of plot or character. Taking Chen away from Shanghai was also a brave move but it was quite nice to see him away from his usual environment.

Whilst you could read this novel on its own, it might be better to start at the beginning and work through, just so you can see the development of the charaters. I still don't think any of the other books in the series have lived up to 'Death of a Red Heroine' but this is still a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Pat45
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read this book out of sequence because of some indifferent reviews. I enjoyed the book enormously & regret not reading it in sequence. I enjoyed the parts set in China & then the switch to the USA. I would recommend this book & having now read the whole series look forward to the next book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor very 8 Jun 2010
Granted Qiu's first language is not English but seriously how could the editors have let this through? Maybe the publishers should have spent some more money on editing the thing as it felt like it was written by somebody in school. I felt it required reading of the previous books to get some insight and to be honest it felt like it was flogging a dead horse just to eek out a bit more money from the series.

But the plot is thin and it seems almost starship troopers monologs through the book to describe things.
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By E Wood
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Having read a number of the series - through not in order - this was refreshing and again provides measured insight into the background and time in which it is set as well as highlighting some of the inter-cultural difficulties that can easily arise. The stories always reflect tension but never strive to resolve themselves fully. In that respect they are perhaps more realistic than novels where a crime (or crimes) is solved in full and to the last detail. In this respect, it is more like real life and maintains the underlying restriction impose by society and ruling bodies. Do not expect any fast car chases or violent confrontation - one might even be left with a degree of confusion as to who is really pulling the strings. So much is done in the interests of the party. But one gets the sense that this is very much part of life. My only criticism is that the copy I received (Hardback edition) had an defect in printing with pages 112 and 113 missing (virtually the last three pages in Chapter 10). So I was left with another unexpected mystery in the story line. Whilst the purchase cost was quickly reimbursed I am left with a minor gap - so if anyone can fill me in would be delighted. But maybe that is yet another interesting twist on a detective novel to engage the reader directly? Interesting. The novel does not put me off reading more in the series which I find quite captivating once you get used to the pace and style.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Poetic justice 30 Aug 2011
Inspector Chen and his associate Detective Yu unpeel some of the layers of Chinese corruption, pursuing their investigations in Shanghai and the US. Chen is astute enough to recognise the constraints and to secure the best outcome in the circumstances. Lots of conversations where things are said obliquely or, more significantly, left unsaid, and lots of working through connections which characterise modern China. Extracts from classic Chinese poetry illuminate and inform.
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