Red Mandarin dress

This is the fifth novel of inspector Chen. I read the four others last year, after having seen Qiu Xiaolong speaking at the Shanghai Literary festival. The other novels were really enjoyable, so I could not wait to read this one. At first, it seemed just like another inspector Chen novel. Another young chinese girl killed in strange circumstances in Shanghai in the late nineties. Once again, the novel start with a crime that inspector Chen has to solve… this sounds very much like every one of the inspector Chen novels. But this one deviates from the normal course really fast as the killer starts again one week later. Putting the corpses in very visible location (first on Dong Hu lu / Huai Hai lu), on People Square the murderer is sure to create heavy publicity for himself… just at the time when our favorite inspector is putting his job on the back burner… I won’t spoil it all by telling the end, but this new novel is a page turner.
Qiu Xialong novel also evolve one after the other. They are all happening in the 90’s in Shanghai, but this one clearly includes a number of element that are more from 2000 Shanghai than 1990. From one novel to the next, we see the character’s life evolving and the city change. Part of the intrigue is still base on Cultural revolution and dark secrets from this time that come back to the surface many years later, but the whole topic also becomes broader including more part of Shanghai’s history. At the same time, the novel keeps in touch with the city’s reality and depicting the specific atmosphere of the transforming city. Reading it was a couple of hours of pure enjoyment.

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