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The Pool of Unease Paperback – 4 Apr 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Pan (4 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330448218
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330448215
  • Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 2.8 x 18.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,265,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I grew up mostly in Devon and the Midlands. Aged 17 I applied to study Chinese at university and a year later I headed to Shanghai. Since then, I've spent way too many years in China, first as a student, then a teacher, then a foreign correspondent for The Times. Since 2001 I've been writing novels - two of them set in China - and living in smog-choked Beijing again, with my husband James, a journalist, and our three children, now teenagers themselves, who think Beijing is normal and Britain is exotic. Their favourite food is Sichuan hot pot, in which piles of raw meat and vegetables are thrown into a bubbling soup red hot with chillis, plucked out fresh-cooked, and dunked, still steaming, in sesame sauce.
I haven't a clue how I've ended up writing stories set in South London...

Product Description

Review

An intricate mystery. --Sunday Telegraph, Seven --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

The scream – female, high-pitched, terrified, breathless, a wordless, formless, plea for mercy – arrived from silence and was cut off, abruptly strangled, leaving a gurgling echo in its airy wake . . . Robin Ballantyne is investigating the murder of a British man in Beijing. But in a city thick with paranoia and corruption, she struggles to separate rumour from reality. Meanwhile, late one freezing night, Chinese private detective Song rescues a young boy from a fire on a building site. With witnesses appearing from the murky surrounds, bloody clothes on the ground but no body, and flames blazing around him, Song panics and flees through the woods – still clutching the boy. From the smog of the capital to the poverty-stricken countryside, and from the mansions of millionaires to a disused quarry where the children of scavengers root among the rubbish, Song and Robin must unravel the truth behind the murders before they find themselves silenced – and before the killer can make another sinister move . . .

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 26 Sept. 2007
Format: Hardcover
While living in Beijing from 2002-2005, I was always looking for a novel that captured the contradictions of contemporary life there. Hats off to Catherine Sampson for writing such a good one! Pool of Unease isn't just a gripping thriller --it's a window into a China that most people who tune in to the Olympics will never see. From the opening scene where hapless Chinese detective Song finds himself running panicked through the woods with a child he has just saved, to the murder of a British man that brings intrepid journalist Robin Ballantyne to Beijing -- it's clear we are caught up in a world where things are not as they seem. Sampson does a wonderful job of showing why this is particularly true in modern China where the lives of newly rich and desperately poor entwine and Western expectations clash with Eastern values. Her Chinese characters, Song and Blue, are so well-drawn and believable (and Robyn's connection with them so palpable) that even after the story arrived at its unexpected conclusion, I couldn't help but wonder happens to them next.
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Format: Hardcover
I first discovered Catherine Sampson's novels through her latest one, the Pool of Unease. The central character, Robin Ballantyne, takes one on a journey through Beijing's sinister back streets, exposing a side of the city that foreigners rarely see. It is a gripping story, with a heart-pounding finish. Having read this one I ordered the other two: Falling Off Air (the first Robin Ballantyne novel) and Out of Mind and loved them almost as much. Being more familiar with China than London, where the first two are mainly set, I could relate more to the third, but they are all wonderful novels. In the Pool of Unease Robin shares center stage with a Chinese detective, Song. He is incredibly believable (and lovable!)-- Catherine Sampson has created an original hero without the stereotyping so common in China fiction written by foreigners. I want more of him! A must read for anyone heading to Beijing for next year's Olympics.
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By R. Clark on 19 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this book but obviously not as much as some of the other reviewers. I thought the picture of modern China was really fascinating and I wonder to what extent this has influenced the other reviewers in arriving at a 5 star verdict. The plot was not nearly strong enough for 5 stars In a review of one of the author'e earlier novels a reviewer says "the self righteous protagonist is unconvincing and alienating"; I wouldn't go as far as that but I do understand and share, in part, the sentiment and this is one of the weaknesses of the novel. I also found the first chapters a little hard to get into but that may be because of the setting. If that is so then it is still fair to say that the author didn't do quite well enough to overcome that hurdle. in fairness I would say that if it had been possible I would have given it 3.5 and I will read another of the author's books
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By J. Wing on 22 May 2009
Format: Paperback
Catherine Sampson's two previous crime thrillers feature Robin Ballantyne,documentary maker for "the Corporation",and she has again surprised me by moving the action to Beijing with authentic details re: locations and culture of this city. Her descriptions of trying to rear her twin kids and solve crimes simultaneously make the story entertaining as well as a gripping thriller.It centres around the murder of a British businessman in Beijing, and the problems of trying to solve the murder while on a tourist visa. Chinese detective Fong is a new character in her novels - her direct opposite but with the same objectives - to solve the mystery I recommend this book for a good read which is different.
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