A Drop of Chinese Blood

James Church, Author
James Church. Minotaur, $24.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-312-55063-9
Reviewed on: 09/17/2012
Release date: 11/13/2012
Hardcover - 495 pages - 978-1-4104-5636-6
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-250-01792-5
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Church’s stellar first in a new series introduces Major Bing, the nephew of Inspector O, the hero of the pseudonymous author’s series set in North Korea (The Man with the Baltic Stare, etc.). Bing, who heads a state security office in China near the North Korean border, and his uncle, with whom he lives, have an affectionately prickly relationship reminiscent of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. In an intricate plot that ranks as one of Church’s best, Fang Mei-lin, “the most beautiful woman in the world,” arrives at Bing’s house to seek his uncle’s help with a problem she keeps secret from Bing. A satirical look at paranoid intelligence structures (“No one finds out about what the Third Bureau is doing on purpose. Not even the Third Bureau”) and the snappy, irreverent narration (O hums “a Korean folk song, not so much carrying the tune as pushing it in a wheelbarrow over rocky ground”) add to the fun. (Nov.)
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