A writer friend of mine, Joan Drury (she owns Drury Lane Books in Grand Marais, MN) recommended this book to me during a recent trip. She said Qiu is one of her new favorite authors. It was a great recommendation!
The book is actually sixth in a detective series set in Shanghai, China with the main character, Chief Inspector Chen of the Shanghai Police Bureau. The book’s author, Xiaolong, is a translator and poet who lives in the states now. This book includes many quotations of classic Chinese poetry, as well as some of his own.
I spent a lot of time in Shanghai during a previous job working with engineers and field associates developing, designing, constructing and starting up a manufacturing facility. The realism of Xiaolong’s scenes, his characters and their speech patterns appealed to me greatly. He created a tremendous mystery that would only work, in my evaluation, in the Chinese society. It was based on their history, honor and belief system.
Inspector Chen is a warm, human character that does his job well and I am looking forward to going back to read his previous adventures. I’ll also be checking out some of Qiu Xiaolong’s other writing from his website.
I was in Shanghai, China shortly after the opening of trade and the beginning of the building and foreign investment boom. Being a project leader for a major new plant sight there was one of my three favorite jobs at my last employer. While I never lived there on a long term basis, I traveled there for two to three weeks at a time, about a dozen times over the course of the project.
I have memories that nothing, with the possible exception of time and dying brain cells, will take from me that include working long days and nights with dedicated employees, meeting many new people from a vastly different culture, being forever crowded, especially on the streets with people, bikes and cars, and experiencing so many firsts.
On most of my trips there was at least one day that could be spent as I pleased and this usually meant a trip somewhere with LOTS of people, shopping, seeing sights, eating, listening to music / jazz. This particular picture was a work celebration where our Chinese project leader was happily showing us how to eat crab…and get every last morsel that was not shell!
I would go to Asia again, and plan to in the future, but I’ll probably go to new places with new people and pleasures, because life is short and one must experience it while its available.