On Friday I made another trip down to the Shanghai International Literary Festival to see mystery writer Qiu Xiaolong in conversation with Beijing-based mystery writer Catherine Sampson.
It was a great event for me because I have been reading Qiu’s work for about a year now. I find his books to be really engaging mystery fiction that is really difficult to put down. I tend to plow through his books in one or two days especially if I am traveling at the time. The biggest realization that I learned from the talk was how much Qiu’s writing accurately reflects the average Chinese person’s view on daily life and society.
This was amplified for me yesterday when I started to read Qiu’s A Case of Two Cities. The story revolves around Qiu’s main character Inspector Chen investigating the case of a corrupt official who has fled to the US. You can hear the anger of the average Chinese citizen on every page. How local and central government officials have used their positions to make themselves richer while many locals are just trying to get by. Superimpsed on this you’ve got a great mystery and the ever interesting and complex character of Inspector Chen.
I don’t this review to sound too much like I’m kissing ass but I really can’t think of anything bad to say about Qiu’s work except that at about 300 pages per book maybe they aren’t long enough for me. Thankfully after A Case of Two Cities I still have Red Mandarin Dress to read but after that I have to wait until next summer for the next one.