Chinese exile Qiu once again movingly and convincingly portrays the plight of an honest cop in a police state, in his ninth novel featuring Insp. Chen Cao (after 2013’s The Enigma of China). Chen’s life and career (he’s also a poet) have never been in more jeopardy. To his dismay, he has learned that he has been unexpectedly “promoted” from his position as deputy Party secretary and chief inspector in the Shanghai Police Bureau to director of the Shanghai Legal Reform Committee. In a country where the interests of the Communist Party come before those of legal reform, Chen realizes that his new job is “merely a reassuring gesture... to the public, at a time when ‘stability maintenance’ was a top political priority.” His fear that he’s going to be discredited is magnified after an invitation to read at a book party celebrating his translations of T.S. Eliot turns out to be a setup. By chance, he avoids being found in a compromised position, but his narrow escape only intensifies his search to identify which of his recent investigations has brought him to the attention of his country’s rulers. The suspense is palpable, and Qiu gives readers a chilling vision of life under authoritarian rule. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/27/2015 Release date: 09/15/2015 Genre: Fiction
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