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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The fifth installment of the Inspector Chen series (and a return to form)
`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...
Published on 13 July 2008 by Sarah Durston

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the best
Completely new to this author, I picked up this book in the mood for a change of genre to crime. I found the storyline reasonably interesting and read throughout to reach the conclusion, but was put off by the depictions of animal cruelty delicacies that pop up five or so times throughout. No doubt included to mirror the brutalities of life under the Chinese Cultural...
Published on 11 Jan 2011 by Mrs Mitten


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The fifth installment of the Inspector Chen series (and a return to form), 13 July 2008
By 
Sarah Durston (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Red Mandarin Dress (Paperback)
`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
4.0 out of 5 stars Back on top form, 21 Sep 2008
By 
Mr. J. E. ROUSE "loomx" (Hampshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Red Mandarin Dress (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
5.0 out of 5 stars a gem, 22 April 2012
By 
B. Lowe (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Red Mandarin Dress (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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chen has ways of making you talk!, 21 Oct 2009
This review is from: Red Mandarin Dress (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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3.0 out of 5 stars Not the best, 11 Jan 2011
This review is from: Red Mandarin Dress (Paperback)
Completely new to this author, I picked up this book in the mood for a change of genre to crime. I found the storyline reasonably interesting and read throughout to reach the conclusion, but was put off by the depictions of animal cruelty delicacies that pop up five or so times throughout. No doubt included to mirror the brutalities of life under the Chinese Cultural Revolution, the point was unsubtle and unskillfully made. Dialogue is stunted, details of the characters' pasts are shoehorned in awkwardly, and the identity of the culprit is made clear far too long before the overly long, far-fetched conclusive scene is reached. Ideally, I would rate it 2.5 out of 5.
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5.0 out of 5 stars excellent picture of life and death in modern shaghai, 27 July 2010
By 
A. Browne "avid reader" (Donegal Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Red Mandarin Dress (Paperback)
An inspector Chen mystery a serial killer loose in ShangHai. There are tantalising links back to former times in China's post WW2 history .The writing is good The characters are complete , with detailed back stories This story gave me a feel for modern china , true or not . It took me somewhere new and gave me lots to think about an excellent book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Can the crimes of the Cultural Revolution ever be resolved?, 21 Oct 2009
This review is from: Red Mandarin Dress (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 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Cultural Experience, 12 Dec 2009
This review is from: Red Mandarin Dress (Paperback)
I loved reading this book and sliding into the lives and minds of the mainland Chinese post cultural revolution. It was a wonderful way to understand the mindset of the Chinese people - a point of view which is so different in many respects to Western culture.

The story itself hung together well and was entertaining, but it was the cultural journey that hooked me.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Red Mandarim Dress, 31 Jan 2009
By 
This review is from: Red Mandarin Dress (Paperback)
I have been reading all books from this author:my overall apreciation is
that some detective authors should not be seen as part of a minor category of fiction,since their literary quality sometimes exceeds the presumed serious ones.Prejudice must be removed for this chinese writer who is proof of my asserption. Q.Ramalho,Lisbon
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3 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars puzzling, 17 Aug 2008
By 
Arthur Koch "sculptor" (Impruneta, Italy) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Red Mandarin Dress (Paperback)
I found this book puzzling because I don't understand the author's harping on the Chinese predilection for eating live food prepared at the table. As a long time USA resident, he must realize that these descriptions are revolting to the average western reader, yet he describes the live monkey brain dish at least three times. I also found his use of the oedipus complex faulty, and his Hercule Piorot ending disappointing.
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Red Mandarin Dress
Red Mandarin Dress by Qiu Xiaolong (Paperback - 24 July 2008)
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