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When Red Is Black


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About the Author

Qiu Xiaolong has been published in more than twenty languages, and more than one million copies of his mysteries, poetry, and literary criticism are in print around the world. He is the author of eight other Inspector Chen Cao mysteries, including A Loyal Character Dancer and Death of a Red Heroine. He lives in St. Louis with his wife and daughter.


Like its predecessors Death of a Red Heroine (2000) and A Loyal Character Dancer (2002), Qiu's third Inspector Chen mystery provides an insightful look into modern China. When Yin Lige, the author of a banned book, is found murdered in her Shanghai apartment, detective Yu Guangming and his boss, Chief Inspector Chen Cao, must solve a case that may have far-reaching political and social implications. (The "red" of the title refers to Mao Zedong's Red Guard, the "black" to the supposed enemies of the working class denounced during the Cultural Revolution.) Yu doggedly pursues all leads, even as personal misfortunes threaten to ruin his life. Chen must help from afar as he takes time off to earn extra income translating business documents for an ambitious entrepreneur. Suspects range from the poignant "shrimp woman," who peels shrimp for a living, to possible enemies from the distant past. Yu soon uncovers the long-ago romance between the victim and Yang Bing, a college professor. This love affair, delicately rendered, allows the author to include many fragile but beautiful Chinese poems. Deftly depicting a China fractured along class and party lines even in matters of love, Qiu also dramatically demonstrates how the past affects the daily lives of Chinese people today. Only a banal solution to the mystery spoils an otherwise engrossing read. (July 1) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

"[Qiu Xiaolong's] finest novel."
-The New York Times

"A vivid portrait of modern Chinese society . . . A work of real distinction."
-The Wall Street Journal

"These are mysteries to savor."
-Booklist, Starred Review

"Chen is the fascinating creation of poet and translator Qiu Xiaolong . . . As in Qiu's first two books, the ghosts of Mao's bloody Cultural Revolution . . . lead to murder."
-Chicago Tribune

"Read When Red Is Black for insights into understanding today's Shanghai and China."
-St. Louis Post-Dispatch


"A great read."
-The Guardian

"The most sophisticated series to date, and one feels Qiu pushing the envelope of the detective series genre."
-Asian Review of Books

"Shanghai in transition . . . Fascinating."
-Kirkus Reviews

-Publishers Weekly

"[A] terrific series . . . A cultural twist and unusual direction that make [Qiu's] books well worth reading."
-Rocky Mountain News

"A terrific murder mystery."
-The Midwest Book Review

"Captivating and Intriguing."
-Mystery News

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