Wednesday, May 4, 2011
First in a series of four novels, this book is so much more than just a mystery. It is an introduction to life in modern day China, more specifically Shanghai. Det.Chen Cao is not your typical crime fighter. Instead, he is an intellectual with degree in literature who has been chosen by the party hierarchy to serve with the police. Discovery in a lonely canal of the body of a “model citizen” set Chen off on a case which brings him into conflict with some of the highest party members. How he manages to pursue his case in spite of numerous setbacks, threats, and bureaucracy at its worst makes for a wonderful and engaging story. Red Heroine is liberally sprinkled with quotes from poets both ancient and modern, insights into real Chinese cuisine, lifestyle, architecture and perhaps most important politics. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and educational book. For more about Det. Chen read my co-blogger's description of the second book in the series.
Qiu Xiaolong came to the United States in 1988 to do research for a book on T. S. Eliot. In the aftermath of the Tienanmen Square riots, it was discovered that he had donated money to the Chinese students and he was forced to stay in this country.
Death of a Red Heroine won the Anthony Award for best first novel in 2001.
Second in a series, by White, Bailey Weggins is the heroine of this fast paced and intriguing mystery dealing with the suspicious deaths of three out of four bridesmaids for a distinctly overbearing and unpleasant bride. Bailey is the fourth bridesmaid and spends most of the book trying to discover not only the killer (there turns out to be two) but also the motive while avoiding becoming the fourth victim. The twists and turns should not be given away here but suffice it to say, there are plenty of red herrings to lead the reader astray. One thing I loved about Bailey was that she had the good sense to be afraid more that once and thereby avoid her killer. All the women in the story were strong characters, some good, some bad but all well drawn with believable motivation for their behavior. Peyton, the grasping and greedy bride, was completely despicable – a success story that people love to hate while fearing her at the same time.
Kate White is the editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine. She began her career at Glamour after being named one of the top 10 coeds in America. She went to Union College where she was a member of the first co-ed class. She has written three non-fiction books on the topic of women succeeding in business. She has received the Matrix Award for Outstanding Achievement in Communication and the Woodhall Institute Award for Ethical Leadership.
I intend to read the next book in the Bailey Weggins series as soon as I can get to the library.