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on 22 March 2017
I have read and enjoyed the China series, and I thought that this last one, Chinese Whispers, was promising. The MERMER experiment was both intriguing and challenging, and worked well as the focus of the plot. But, really, that's about the sum of the wholehearted praise. The most disappointing part (out of quite a few) was the ending, and I found it hard to believe that the book finished where it did, with Li and Margaret in mid-conversation, no resolution in sight for their personal predicament, no comforting reassurance that Li's clever detective work would result in immediate restitution to his post. Then I realised that there is a novella due out at the end of the month, and a cynical voice suggested that leaving a six-book series unresolved at the end of the sixth book is a great way of making readers buy the follow-up novella.

Well, mine's on order, and I shall look forward to it, but that doesn't really excuse the weakness of the conclusion of Chinese Whispers. And I had other problems with this one; for example, the grafting-on of the Ripper plot and yet another slavering description of some of the pathetic, brutalised bodies of the original victims. And, for sure, we've had Ripper copycat murders many times before, although maybe not in Beijing; as another reviewer said, the change of setting doesn't really add anything. Perhaps it's because this is in essence a very old story with a new spin, but I didn't find much in the way of drive in this plot, and found myself struggling to finish (especially as I'd worked out who had to be the killer quite early on). After six books I'm weary of the endless descriptions of Beijing's buildings and architecture, smog and traffic, and I still can't differentiate between Li's police colleagues (although I love the pancake selling woman and her riddles). Margaret is okay, but I don't find her very believable.

There's no motive behind the killings. We know by the end who did them, we know something of his past, but surely, if a man changes into a killing machine in his teens, or whenever it was, it might be good to have at least a nod in the direction of a reason? The enduring fascination of the Ripper murders is that no-one really knows who carried them out, which leaves the door wide open for all sorts of speculation, including Patricia Cornwell's daft theory about Walter Sickert. It's this speculation that keeps us intrigued, and here, in Chinese Whispers, Peter May provided himself with the most wonderful platform for delving into the character of his killer, making up some extraordinary, life-changing, psyche-distorting events when he was a young man (we're talking the Cultural Revolution here, for God's sake, so there's endless scope) and really going to town on it all. It's a gift to a writer of his calibre, and what does he do? He dodges the challenge and walks away. What a shame.

I'm going to submit this now before I think about it any more and decide to change three stars to two.
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on 10 April 2018
I love Peter May's books and have particularly enjoyed his six China thrillers featuring Beijing cop Li Yan and his partner pathogist Margaret Campbell as well as his six Enzo Macleod mysteries. All of them are beautifully written and evoke the atmosphere of the places the characters inhabit. Also there is almost always a twist in the tail before the story concludes.

The sixth and last book in the China series does not disappoint and progresses Li Yan's relationship with Margaret. My only slight disappointment was how the book ended. Whilst we discovered eventually the identity of the Beijing Ripper once we arrived at this point the book concluded. Given that there were quite a number of loose ends still existing at this point (Li Yan's suspension, his credit card blocking, Margaret being charged for not complying with the rules and regulations etc) which were unaddressed made for a feeling of being let down. With no further books available (at present) in which thesecould be addressed I think this was a missed opportunity. However this is a small criticism on what I have found to be an extremely enjoyable original series of stories with excellent characters and plots. Interestingly all of these books were originally published some years ago so it would be a welcome treat indeed should we be treated to a further development of the China series.

This book also contains a short novella after the conclusion of Chinese Whispers.

Highly recommendedu
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on 2 January 2018
Having read all of Peter May's books I'm somewhat late in forwarding any comments regarding this author. However this does not dispel
my view of his writing which always glues me to the book until it is finished. Every one of his books has given me enormous satisfaction and
an anxious wait for his next one. I have written this comment against Chinese Whispers(the last available title)and he cannot possibly get
any better, absolutely superb, absorbing and also an insight into Chinese culture. Without doubt the best writer of his kind and I hope we can look forward to many more titles from peter.
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on 2 October 2015
Li Yan new menace is a copycat, and he wants his crimes to replicate the past down to the letters to the inspector and the cuts he delivers to his victims, because his motivations come from the past he recreates; taunting li and putting Margaret at peril, nearly destroying all they have.

This is a more stylized narratives than the usual stories in this series, creating a plot that is rich with historical facts of interest, that will satisfy most crime readers, but it is still very much keeping a marriage of east and west, and the consequences of power and history.

Entertaining and fast paced full of turns and darkness for both the main characters, making this one more very good story that will not disappoint.
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on 25 April 2016
I loved this book and the whole China series. After reading the Enzo files, it took me a wee bit longer to get into the first China book as a complete change in culture and reading chinese names stopped the flow slightly. However afer the first few chapters, it was great and the story and characters had me hooked. The Chinese culture, tradition, food and cooking are all captivating and I was drawn in to the challenges of an American in China. Excellent book and hope there may be more.
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on 8 June 2013
I have found Peter May and it's wonderful. I started with 'The Lewis man trilogy', and just loved the descriptions and the suspense of the story. I then went onto the China Thrillers and have recommended them to all my family and friends. I have visited Bejing and wish I had read these books before I went. his knowledge of China and the traditions there is incredible and so fascinating. Combine that with a thriller, and the personality of a very traditional Chinese detective and a over emotional, American phorensic scientist and its just brilliant. I can't go on enough about these books and I guarantee once you have started reading Peter May, then you will be a fan. he is so under-rated here in the Uk. I have just started his Enzo books, I hope he keeps writing.
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on 8 December 2016
After reading all the Lewis novels I have read all six Chinese thrillers. That says it all about the readability of these works. They are not perfect. May always seems to me to rush his denouement which is a shame after spending so long creating the plot. He is also prone to gratuitous local colour. In the Chinese novels he cannot help 'showing off' his knowledge of the street names of the Chinese capital. However, they are well worth reading. I found the third and final novels the best of them.
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on 27 November 2014
This book is a compelling gruesome mystery thriller. Well written, with a gripping start, it immediately grabs the interest, even though it is a little slow in the early stages. It does compensate however, by suddenly turning up the pace to become compelling reading. Set in modern day China, the author provides lots of local interesting information, together with a great plot. Section police chief Li Yan is in the race of his life to catch the Beijing Ripper, a modern day Jack the Ripper who gruesomely dismembers his female victims in a similar manner to his Victorian England counterpart. The deeper Li Yan probes into the mystery the more dangerous the killer becomes, until soon Li Yan may be fighting for his very existence. A great read.
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on 14 January 2017
I loved these books. At the moment I feel short changed as I need to know if there is an hea in Li Yan and Margaret's relationship. I very much enjoyed the crime aspect of the book but, as a romantic at heart, I am hooked by the depth of feeling Peter May conjures for me for the complex relationships within the book. This is evidently important to him too, but does it create a dilemma? Who does he please? The reader whose enjoyment is the crime element and may denounce time spent concludung the love interest or the romantic who is dissatisfied without it? Interesting! For me I need one more story with a great crime plot but with some conclusion to Li and Margaret's relationship. Peter, you owe it to us romantics. Your fault for choosing to develop, so vividly and extensively the emotional element in the tale!
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on 6 April 2018
One of Peter May's many strengths as a writer is the ability to adapt his books to their particular settings, be it Paris, Lewis or China.
Chinese Whispers typifies this and is a highly readable mix of crime and life in modern China with reference to a changing society. These changes add to an intriguing puzzle for Inspector Li which comes much too close to home.
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