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3.5 out of 5 stars12
3.5 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 18 February 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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on 21 June 2009
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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on 17 December 2013
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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on 8 June 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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on 5 November 2010
I simply cannot agree with the majority of the reviews. This the third of the series I have read ("A Loyal Character Dancer" is sadly out of print)and I felt it was as good as his first - with his new role in the second half of the book as Head of a visiting Delegation in the United States adding an interesting dimension (not least with the group dynamics). The information on Chinese eating is still there - with the contact with the Chinese community. My habit - generally with non-fiction books - is to pencil mark passages I would want to return to; fiction books have to be crafted very well to justify such marking and this was the first of the Chen books to get such marks! I particularly enjoyed the cheeky episode where he slipped into the role of a soothsayer!
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on 30 August 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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on 4 November 2008
This book gives an excellent account of China, with a very good description of the political landscape. It has a great plot too - but it lacks in living up to all of this. The story starts strong and you learn a lot from it, but it leaves you longing for more.
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on 21 September 2007
Suddenly in a succesful series the author swithes from his/her usual location (in this case Shanghai) and confronts his hero with a strange culture. In this book it works but barely. Let's get Inspector Chen back to Shanghai. Partir c'est mourir un peu.
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on 7 April 2010
Not as good as the other Inspector Chen books, but it was great to get reacquainted with him anyway..
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on 12 March 2016
I enjoy the writer's prose. Chen can be a little frustrating, all his thinking and poetry, but that's what makes him. I'll read on and see what's in store for Chen and loyal detective Yu.
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