- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: Mulholland Books; New Ed edition (13 July 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0340897503
- ISBN-13: 978-0340897508
- Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 3.2 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 129,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Death of a Red Heroine: Inspector Chen 1 (As heard on Radio 4) Paperback – 13 Jul 2006
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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)
Prizewinning debut of an extraordinary new voice in crime writing.See all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
Communist China makes for an instantly compelling and intriguing setting, as the police must wend their way through labyrinthine political considerations in a country where one's standing in the Party is paramount but change is clearly underway. The mystery and investigation proceed in a leisurely fashion, and the true challenge is not identifying the murderer, but being able to gather the necessary evidence and piecing together a motive.
Inspector Chen and Detective Yu are instantly likable and deeply-drawn characters, as is their circle of friends and family. Woven into the story are the their personal lives, which the author uses to paint a vivid picture of China just a decade ago. Most memorable are the cramped housing conditions, the continued reverence for elders, and the many many mouthwatering descriptions of food. Hardest to imagine for Western readers will be the influence of Party standing and its intrusion into personal relationships, especially when it comes to love.
This is a long, but never boring story that deserves wide readership amongst mystery readers as well as those with an interest in China. A well-deserved winner of the Edgar for best first novel.
Part of this is probably do to the fact that I only have a loose understanding of the events surrounding the Cultural Revolution and the subsequent Party politics that play an important part in this book. But it also just has a slow start, which isn't helped a lot by the rather dry tone Chinese literature always seems to have.
In the end, however, what I liked so much about the book is that it's about good men trying, against almost impossible odds, to be good men. I don't mean John McClane type heros, but ordinary men in extraordinary circumstances.
Chen, the main character is a coming to terms with the fact that his life has not turned out the way he hoped. He shows a consistent moral mettle that is impossible not to respect. His partner, Yu, is a man who was given very few choices in life but his dedication to both his job, doing the right thing and his wife are heart melting. It was these men and their character that carried the day for me. I'm glad to have read the book.
This is a spectacularly good book, both as a portrait of a culture and country, and as a police procedural novel. The sense of place is overwhelming, the characters are well drawn and complex and the attention to detail is fantastic. If you are one for minimalist literature this probably isn't one for you! Chief Inspector Chen is a wonderful focus for the novel being both a gourmand and a poet and so bringing much of modern China to life.
I loved it. The only thing lacking for me was an author's note on how to pronounce the names.
It is more police procedural than golden age. There is a murder, and it is central to the plot, but there is very little real detective work described.
The book is well-written and very discursive: there are descriptions of food, relationships, a great deal about China in the 1990s and how the Party works and - for me the best bit - a great deal of poetry. The main character, Chief Inspector Chen, is a poet (and translator of crime novels) as well as a detective. This creates many opportunities for the author to insert couplets or (rarely) longer excerpts from Chinese poetry in a very natural, charming and unpretentious way. I have certainly sought out Chinese poetry as a result of what I read in this book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The author's command of English is amazing but falters when he presents speech by Americans (whoever describes people as 'eating to their hearts' content'? Read morePublished 14 months ago by ditchlingreader
Qui Xiaolong has created a detailed and very interesting character in Chief Inspector Chen. Anyone familiar with Poirot or Morse will readily identify with the character. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Dee
As a crime novel, the mood that it conveys is rather unusual. It is not a thriller that gives you a fright. Read more
This is the first of the Inspector Chen series of novels by the award winning expatriate Chinese author Qiu Xiaolong. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Dr. R. Brandon
Best read in sequence with other titles. Good characterisation and story line and interesting portrayal of life in China some years ago.Published 18 months ago by Jonathan H Robbins