Summary and book reviews of A Case of Two Cities by Qiu Xiaolong

A Case of Two Cities

An Inspector Chen novel

by Qiu Xiaolong

A Case of Two Cities
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Nov 2006, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2007, 320 pages

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Book Summary

The fourth book in the Inspector Chen series, this unusual and compelling crime novel blends character, poetry, insights into Chinese society and culture, and food with a compelling plot.

Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Bureau is summoned by an official of the party to take the lead in a corruption investigation - one where the principle figure and his family have long since fled to the United States and beyond the reach of the Chinese government. But he left behind the organization and his partners-in-crime, and Inspector Chen is charged to uncover those responsible and act as necessary to end the corruption ring. In a twisting case that takes him from Shanghai, all the way to the U.S., reuniting him with his previous cohort from the U.S. Marshall's service - Inspector Catherine Rhon.

Chapter One

Chief Inspector Chen Cao, of the Shanghai Police Bureau, was invited to a mega bathhouse, Birds Flying, Fishes Jumping, on a May afternoon.

According to Lei Zhenren, editor of Shanghai Morning, they would have all their worries luxuriously washed away there. “How much concern do you have? / It is like spring flood / of a long river flowing east. This ultramodern bathhouse is really unique. Characteristics of the Chinese brand of socialism. You won’t see anything else like it in the world.”

Lei knew how to persuade, having quoted for the poetry-liking chief inspector three lines from Li Yu, the Southern Tang emperor poet. “Characteristics of the Chinese brand of socialism” was a political catchphrase, which carried a discordant connotation, especially in the context of the unprecedented materialistic transformation sweeping over the city of Shanghai. As it happened, Chen had just read about the bathhouse in ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

In such a climate as modern-day Shanghai it could be argued that, in such a climate, it is not possible to remain strictly honest to the letter of the law, and thus it is up to the individual's own conscience to toe that very fine line between what is morally right and wrong. Inspector Chen's awareness of this quandary and his desire to do the right thing, coupled with his frequent revulsion at his occupation, are what make him a truly noble figure. The potential for corruption is constantly presented to him like tasty dim sum, but he resists, even though so many around him are gorging themselves on the opportunities.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

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Media Reviews

The Washington Post - Richard Lipez

There's something especially brave and noble about a cop who perseveres under these circumstances. Readers who love China will be heartened, as this gritty, suspenseful tale unfolds, to discover that Inspector Chen is far from alone in his quest to build a humane Chinese society.

Kirkus Reviews

Chen's literary sensibility and Xiaolong's incisive portrait of modern China, mixed with traditional gumshoe exploits, make for heady entertainment.

Booklist - Thomas Gaughan

Character, poetry, insights into Chinese society and culture, and food all come before story in this unusual and compelling crime novel, the fourth in a fascinating series.

Library Journal

His characters are expertly drawn, his prose superb and interlaced with thought-provoking poetry that depicts what is being lost in China.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Chen stands in a class with Martin Cruz Smith's Russian investigator, Arkady Renko, and P.D. James's Scotland Yard inspector, Adam Dalgliesh.

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Beyond the Book

A Short History of Modern China

  • In 1911 the Qing Dynasty was overthrown, ending 2000 years of imperial rule. There were many revolutionary groups but the most organized was founded by Dr Sun Yat-sen.
  • In WWI the Chinese government sided with the Allies. In return they were promised that the German concessions (foreign territories within a country) in Shangdong province would be returned to Chinese control; at the time China, especially the coastal areas, were a mass of foreign concessions, colonies and treaty ports, owned by Britain, France, Germany, ...

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