Death of a Red Heroine) offers an intriguing if somewhat labored glimpse of "/>
 

A LOYAL CHARACTER DANCER

Qiu Xiaolong, Author, Qui Xiaolong, Author
Qiu Xiaolong, Author, Qui Xiaolong, Author . Soho $25 (368p) ISBN 978-1-56947-301-6
Reviewed on: 07/01/2002
Release date: 07/01/2003
Paperback - 351 pages - 978-1-56947-341-2
Open Ebook - 199 pages - 978-1-56947-794-6
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-57828-9
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Anthony Prize–winner Qiu's second Inspector Chen mystery (after 2000's Death of a Red Heroine) offers an intriguing if somewhat labored glimpse of Chinese life in a period of evolution from communism to a more westernized culture. Former dancer and party loyalist Wen Liping has vanished just when she was to leave for the U.S. to join her husband, a key witness against a smuggling ring suspected of importing aliens to America. The same day higher authorities refer this case to Chen, who is a likable senior police agent with a love of literature, a badly mutilated body turns up in Shanghai's Bund Park. It takes many pages and train trips around China for Chen, in the company of visiting U.S. Marshal Catherine Rohn, before the two cases are finally linked, but the wait is worth it. Punctuated by proverbs from Confucius and ancient and modern Chinese poetry, Chen's reports show how he and Catherine gradually learn of Wen's unhappy past—being programmed as a child to dance holding a "Loyalty" placard for Mao's Red Guards, later suffering brutal abuse by her husband. The more unsavory elements of modern Chinese society are revealed, from prostitution houses masking as karaoke clubs to vicious rival triads battling for turf, while materialism at its worst overcomes traditional values. Qiu's writing style can be somewhat stilted, and dialogue occasionally resembles "partyspeak," but the characters manage to achieve an engaging realism and charm, even while showing the underside of China in transition. (Sept.)

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