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A Case of Two Cities
Qiu Xiaolong

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A Case of Two Cities

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A Case of Two Cities
An Inspector Chen Novel
By Qiu Xiaolong
Thorndike Press Large Print, (2007)
ISBN 10: 1-59722-490-1
ISBN 13: 978-1-59722-490-1
Genre: Mystery

Reviewed by Angela Evans - June 8, 2007

Qui Xiaolong detective novels featuring Inspector Chen Cao are sublime mysteries set against the back drop of modern day Communist China. In A Case of Two Cities, Chief Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Bureau is at a cross-roads in his career. Although seeming destined to continue to rise further within the bureau, continuing to do so may require going against all his beliefs and moral foundations.

Chen is an honest, hard-working cop who takes his job very seriously with an uncanny knack for getting at the truth. In this case, the Communist Party started a very public anti-corruption campaign, and Chen is ordered to take on one of the high-profile cases associated with this campaign. His task is to track down Xing Xing, a high-ranking Fujian Party official and wealthy business man who has fled to America when it became known that he was corrupt. Chen's job is to discover just how corrupt Xing was, who his partners were, and who he was bribing. To his dismay, but not too unexpectedly, Chen soon discovers that there are those in high places that don't want him to find Xing or his connections to them. Faced with a moral dilemma that would stymie a lesser man - solve the case and destroy his own career and his families standing, or let Xing go and continue on as if nothing has happened. Chen does what comes naturally to him. He goes to America, ostensibly to lead a group of writers on a cultural exchange tour of the country, and uses the trip as an opportunity to hunt for Xing.

Chen is an intriguing character. He is not only a cop, but he is also a poet, and you'll find a sampling of Tang era poetry in the book, as well as samples of Chen's 'own' poetry. More important, this is not just a mystery story, but it is also in many regards an example of social commentary of the Communist system in China, and the current social and political problems that exist in China today. Against this backdrop, Xiaolong also explores the culture traditions and everyday life in cosmopolitan China. From the beginning I've found the Inspector Chen series to be intriguing and entertaining, and A Case of Two Cities lives up to my expectations.

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