Bamboo and Blood: An Inspector O Novel

James Church, Author . St. Martin's Minotaur/Dunne $23.95 (294p) ISBN 978-0-312-37291-0

Church once again does a brilliant job of portraying the dysfunctional, paranoid society of modern North Korea in his third novel to feature Inspector O of the ministry of public security (after 2007's Hidden Moon ). When a foreigner O has been assigned to watch turns out to be working for Israeli intelligence, O and his supervisor, Pak, come under the scrutiny of a rival security service. To complicate matters, Pak asks the inspector to investigate the murder of a North Korean diplomat's wife in Pakistan, but O is restricted to merely collecting facts about the dead woman. O's efforts to actually solve the crime lead to dangerous encounters with his country's special weapons program. While the espionage elements compel, the book's main strength, as with its predecessors, derives from the small details that enable the reader to imagine life in North Korea—and from O's struggles to maintain his principles and integrity. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 09/29/2008
Release date: 11/01/2008
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