Read advance reader review of Whispering Shadows by Jan-Philipp Sendker, page 4 of 9

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Whispering Shadows

by Jan-Philipp Sendker

Whispering Shadows by Jan-Philipp Sendker X
Whispering Shadows by Jan-Philipp Sendker
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2015, 352 pages

    Feb 2016, 352 pages


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There are currently 63 member reviews
for Whispering Shadows
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  • Shirley P. (Colorado Springs, CO)
    Whispering Shadows
    I very much enjoyed this book. It was easy to get into and be involved in the story. I have a special interest in China and was engrossed in the modern China and what that means in terms of the the underbelly of a society that has emerged from the Cultural Revolution. It is easy to romanticize China thinking of the emperors, dynasties, art and ancient cultures. In fact, by reading this book, one learns about the struggles of a society trying to find their way.

    Beyond this, the story is a mystery which involves an American family doing business with a very powerful Chinese titan. The protagonists are a police officer and his very close friend, an American, who has dropped out of life after the death of his young son. The story describes how these two men get involved in the case of the death of the son of the American family. The under story is the police detective recalling his life during the Cultural Revolution and how his life intersects with the powerful Chinese businessman deeply involved in the murder investigation.

    The novel is engrossing on many levels, and I would recommend it highly for those who enjoy history with their mysteries.
  • John W. (Saint Louis, MO)
    More than your Standard Crime Thriller
    I read Sendker's first book, "The Art of Hearing Heartbeats," and loved it so I couldn't wait to read his follow-up. I found it hard to put down; read it within two days. Needless to say, I enjoyed the story. It's more than your standard mystery thriller - the author also gives insight into the setting the story takes place, in this book Hong Kong.
    While I have traveled to China, this book gave me a glimpse into the dark-side of the country that you only get a glimpse of in movies. The author focuses on two men, Paul Leibovitz – an American living on an island of Hong Kong and Zheng Lin – a Chinese homicide detective living in Shenzhen. We learn about each character's past and their shared need to find redemption as they search for the Owen's son. Sendker does an amazing job of developing characters and the setting so you can easily imagine yourself witnessing everything that you read. It reminded me of a book that I just finished by Joseph Kanon, "Istanbul Passage." I highly recommend it and I am now a confirmed fan of Sendker!
  • Patricia D. (Woodland Hills, CA)
    Sendker at his best!
    Here's another great story from Sendker. After reading The Art of Hearing Heartbeats I was hopeful that his newest book would be just as wonderful. I wasn't disappointed! What makes this book superb are the in-depth descriptions, the well-developed characters and the creative storyline. All of these important details helped me become part of the story too. In addition Sendker throws in the disappearance of an American couple's son and makes the story a page-turner. This book gives the reader an excellent view of China and Hong Kong. Because Paul is living alone trying to overcome the death of his own child, it is not surprising that he becomes involved with a woman he meets on the street who is distraught when her own son disappears. Paul's friend, Zhang a detective, provides us with a look at the more corrupt side of the government and local police. Sendker's writing allows all the pieces to come together in a story that is full of emotion and excitement. This is definitely a book you'll want to read.
  • Patricia S. (New Canaan, CT)
    Whispering Shadows
    After reading The Art of Hearing Heartbeats for my book club, I couldn't wait to read Whispering Shadows, the 2nd novel written by Jan-Philipp Sendker. He didn't let me down. Confuscious once said "Trust once lost can never be regained" and Whispering Shadows tries to prove this wrong. Trust plays a large part in this book of mysteries. "Trust is a part of life, the basis for every human contact, friendship and love" -all of which come together in an eminently readable story, which goes beyond the usual thriller. The author is truly in tune with Eastern feelings, lending authenticity to Whispering Shadows. I will definitely recommend it to our book club for reading this summer in Maine. I again look forward to the next novel by Mr. Sendker.
  • Linda N. (Dallas, TX)
    Whispering Shadows
    Whispering Shadows is a splendid read that draws one into the little known cultural world where modern China and Hong Kong meld into the complex setting for this murder mystery. And yet this story is much more than a murder mystery as Sendker deftly explores with tenderness and compassion the deepening friendships between painfully wounded people who, despite their flaws and vulnerabilities, risk building a trust that transcends cultural lines and personal struggles with their own past demons. I love this book for its humanity and wisdom .
  • Colleen L. (Casco, ME)
    Insight into China...
    Sendker's newest book is an unusual novel. In some ways, it is like his first book "The Art of Hearing Heartbeats" in that the author can evoke strong, empathetic feelings for the main character. In other ways, however, it is a 'whodunit' as to who killed Michael Owens. It is rare when an author can successfully blend both types of novels into one & I believe that Sendker has accomplished it.

    Paul Leibovitz, a emotionally distanced American, is living in Lamma, an outlying island of Hong Kong. He meets another American, Elizabeth Owen whose son is missing in China. Paul and his detective friend, Zang, investigate this disappearance.

    What makes this novel so interesting is that the author takes you deep into the culture of China. We take so much for granted here in the USA. In China, people are treated differently; politics are different; business is different; and how people survive is challenging. The author was for many years an Asian correspondent for "Stern" and in 2000 published "Cracks in the Wall", a nonfiction book about China. The author does an exceptional job presenting this personal insight into his new fiction novel - a world most of us Americans really don't understand.

    Although "The Art of Hearing Heartbeats" remains my favorite book of his, Sendker has penned another winner. The reader will love the way Sendker writes. He thoroughly engages you in the story and the insight into the world of China is fascinating. I highly recommend this novel to anyone looking for an interesting change of pace. You won't be disappointed.
  • Robert S. (Henderson, NV)
    More Than A Murder Mystery
    Set in contemporary Hong Kong and the industrial zones of Southern China the narrative of Whispering Shadows is about the violent death of a young American businessman and the search for his killer. Beyond the narrative, though, is an exploration of the meanings of truth, friendship and trust, the ways in which we are molded by our past (whether that past is the death of a young child or service in the Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution) and whether we are destined to be limited by our past or alternatively have the capacity to build on the past. Less personally the story questions whether modern China is really much different than Mao's China.

    The novel has come compelling strengths. The descriptions of the settings are wonderfully crafted as the reader shares the smells and sounds of the crowded Hong Kong streets and appreciates the verdant beauty of Lamma Island off of Hong Kong where the protagonist lives. The descriptions of murder, destruction and family disintegration during the Cultural Revolution are so real as to invoke outrage and horror in the reader.

    The author also effectively captures the feelings and emotions of the characters using realistic dialogue and penetrating descriptions of mental state to convey grief, sadness, anger, fear, remorse and love. The reader is able to identify with these conditions of the heart in a way that makes the characters seem very real.

    The story is also well structured. As each of the characters is introduced in the linear narrative the author effectively weaves the character's backstory into the prose in a way that provides depth to the character but does not interrupt the flow of the story.

    The weakness of the novel is the plot. On a positive note the lives of two of the characters are creatively intertwined and the resulting relationship is interesting and thought provoking and drives the denouement. The problem with the plot lies in the lack of believability and in its predictability. Well before the conclusion the reader has some idea where the story is going which detracts from the suspense. Moreover, the building blocks of the plot are in part created by the unrealistic ignorance or naivete on the part of primary characters on matters of central importance to the plot and of an obliviousness to the predictable consequences of actions. For instance, an American's belief in the justice of the Chinese legal system is not believable, but it is just such a belief that the reader is asked to accept.

    Whispering Shadows is an unusual book. As a murder mystery the novel is wanting, telegraphing as it does the direction of the story. This would be a fatal flaw in most books of this genre. But in this book it is not. The story is so well structured, the characters are so deep and the descriptions are so vibrant that Whispering Shadows succeeds as quality literary fiction.

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