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Red Mandarin Dress: Inspector Chen 5 (Inspector Chen Cao) Paperback – 24 Jul 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Mulholland Books; 1 edition (24 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340935189
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340935187
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 217,870 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

Review

Intriguing ... pertinent ... intelligent (New York Times)

A thrilling crime story and also an absorbing look at modern China. (The Herald)

Xiaolong's astute rendering of the many contradictions of contemporary Chinese life centres on the brilliant Inspector Chen . . . A series that might well get you hooked. (Sunday Telegraph)

Atmospheric and rich in behind the scenes detail . . . Morse of the Far East. (Independent)

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

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)

The first police whodunnit written by a Chinese author in English and set in contemporary China . . . its quality matches its novelty. (The Times)

The usual enjoyable mix of murder, poetry and contradictions of contemporary Chinese culture. Chen is a splendid creation. (Independent on Sunday)

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

Qiu Xiaolong is one of the brightest stars in the firmament of modern literary crime fiction. His Inspector Chen mysteries dazzle as they entertain, combining crime with Chinese philosophy, poetry and food, Triad gangsters and corrupt officials. (Canberra Times, Australia)

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)

Wonderful. (Washington Post)

Book Description

Never before published fifth novel in the stunning literary crime series that has received international critical acclaim.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Durston TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 13 July 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
`Red Mandarin Dress' begins with the discovery of a young girl who has been murdered and dumped in a very public area of Shanghai, just outside the Shanghai Music Institute. She has not been sexually assaulted, but she is wearing nothing but the red Mandarin dress which is associated with the bourgeoisie. As Inspector Chen is away working on his literature paper, it falls to his trusty sidekick, Yu, to begin the investigation. However, when another body is discovered and an undercover operation involving a member of the Police bureau goes horribly wrong, he is brought back into the fold.

I have enjoyed this series tremendously, but felt that the last couple of books in the series had not lived up to the brilliance of the initial novel, `Death of a Red Heroine.' However, this novel really does spark a return to form. The plot is interesting and involving, incorporating the wonderful mix of history, politics, gastronomy and Chinese Literature that made the earlier books so great and so unique.

I will include my usual minor moan, that I would appreciate a note on the pronunciation of names. Also, it's a shame that the publisher seems to have abandoned the striking illustrated covers too!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr. J. E. ROUSE on 21 Sept. 2008
Format: Paperback
I have read all of the Inspector Chen stories so far. Death of a red heroine was a strong book and "A loyal character dancer" was as well. "When red is black" started to loose momentum (Chen was not even involved in the case) and "A case of two cities" lost it all completly. The whole case of anti corruption ends abrubtly with no tension built before hand to be relieved Which brings me to "Red mandarin dress".

This books picks up the old spirit of the first. I could not put the book down because I wanted to discover who the killer was. Admittedly the climax was not the best but over all this book is possibly the best in the series and a good thriller in general. This would be the one I would recommend for people who do not want to read all of the books. Lets hope that Qiu Xiaolong does not repeat the mistakes he made and writes another edge-of-the-seat, complex thriller
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Axup on 21 Oct. 2009
Format: Paperback
Murder seems to follow our lead detective Chen around no matter how hard he tries to avoid it by hiding away emerging his self in his classical studies. Seemingly unrelated events gradually merge together until it all becomes clear, and going against his unbelieving colleagues Chen works toward the final showdown.

Unlike the police in Shanghai I have known, Chen seems less at home in a KTV bar. A traditionalist through and through.

This is the sixth installment in the Inspector Chen detective series. Although you certainly don't need to have read the earlier stories, why not start at the beginning and get a feel for how the Inspector Chen character develops?

I have lived in Shanghai for four years, and I love the pondering whimsical style of policing here; answers are rooted in the classics. This is detective work on the edge. There are no police databases and fancy technology to help here. Shanghai is where detective work is still done on gut instinct. Just like Poirot, Chen is expert at making people to talk!

The first Inspector Chen installment:
Death of a Red Heroine
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Format: Paperback
A woman has been found murdered wearing nothing but a red mandarin dress that dates back to the 1960s. And then another corpse is discovered in a similar dress, and another in what amounts to Shanghai's first modern serial murder. Inspector Chen wants to take time out to study his main passion - Chinese literature and poetry, but he is drawn into the case despite himself.

This book has all the hallmarks of an inspector Chen mystery: the literary and historical references, the changing society and skyline of Shanghai, the atmospheric streets and old buildings whose usage has changed many times, the sumptious banquets (and yes there is the monkey brain dish, but for the squeamish, Chen walks away without eating it...) and a lot of discussion of psychology, which Chen's colleagues find difficult to understand as there is no tradition of psychological profiling in Chinese crime fighting. All this is intertwined with Chinese politics and history. The subtext to this decent enough crime novel, gripping in parts, is the impact of the Cultural Revolution on people's mental well being even decades later. Many committed suicide, but some return to eke their revenge.

Although the murderer is found thorough a convoluted piecing together of family history and interpretations of events, the ending is oddly unsatisfactory as there is no real resolution. There may be a reason for this, as Chen says: "Is there a court that prosecutes the crimes of the Cultural Revolution? Or will there ever be one?" That makes it an intriguing novel that goes well beyond being a crime story.

My main beef is the sloppy editing and often slightly ungrammatical errors. What do editors in publishing houses do for their money these days?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By B. Lowe on 22 April 2012
Format: Paperback
You need to be patient with this book. It's not written in the style we expect of detective novels. That's because it was written in Chinese and reflects a more measured pace of explication that Chinese readers would expect. But the plot is well-crafted and clever and the narration contains many fascinating insights into contemporary Chinese society and its shifting moral standards. I'm keen to get my hands on another one from the series.
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