Wednesday, January 31

A Case of Two Cities by Qiu Xiaolong

Review by Gloria Feit 

Inspector Chen is caught up in the web of inscrutable Chinese politics.  He is appointed to investigate corruption by a high official of the party, and given a blank check for authority.  The investigation involves an individual and his family who have fled to the United States, but may also involve many party cadres, bureaucrats and others.

How to proceed against the institutionalized Chinese system?  Chen wends his way alone seeking leads from various sources.  One of them is raped and murdered before giving him information.  As he begins to learn more, he is suddenly appointed chairman of a literary delegation leaving for Los Angeles in a couple of days.  Was the appointment an effort to sidetrack the investigation, or really deserved (after all he is a respected poet and translator)?

Before leaving on his new mission, Chen deputizes his assistant to carry on the investigation in Shanghai.   In the United States, Chen continues his efforts and gains assistance from U.S. Marshall Catherine Rhon, with whom he previously worked in Shanghai.

Like its predecessors in the series, this novel provides deep insights into contemporary China, while giving the reader a crime story that is compelling.



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