Saturday, April 3, 2010

X is for Qiu Xiaolong's THE MAO CASE

Continuing the fun series started by fellow Anzac book blogger Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise, where each week bloggers from around the world write about a notable crime fiction novel or author (first name or surname) starting with a particular letter of the alphabet, this week is the turn of “X”.

Having made a grievous error in using my profile piece on Qiu Xiaolong for the "Q" week, rather than saving it for this week, I'd tied my hands somewhat, when it comes to crime fiction relating to the letter X.

So, since I've already used up my profile piece on Xiaolong, I thought this week I would instead take a closer look at one of his books, THE MAO CASE. This was the book that caught my eye, and for me was how I 'discovered' Xiaolong. I spotted it in the 'Asian' section of the Kuala Lumpur international airport bookstore, when I was browsing for Malaysian crime fiction. I haven't read it yet, but I am looking forward to experiencing Xiaolong's writing.

In THE MAO CASE, Chief Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Department is the head of the Special Case group and is often put in charge of those cases that are considered politically "sensitive" since, as a rising party cadre, he's regarded by many as reliable. But Inspector Chen, though a poet by inclination and avocation, takes his job as a policeman very seriously, despite the pressures put upon him from within and without, and is unwilling to compromise his principles as a policeman in favor of political expedience.

However, after the new Minister of Public Security insists that Chen personally take on a 'special assignment', an investigation already begun by Internal Security, he may no longer be able to resist those pressures. The party, increasingly leery of international embarrassment, is unhappy about two recent books that place Mao in a bad light. Now, Jiao, the granddaughter of an actress who was likely one of Mao's mistresses - a woman suspected of being Mao's own granddaughter - has recently quit her job, moved into a luxury apartment, and, without any visible means of support, become a part of a new social set centered around the remnants of pre-Communist Shanghai society. What they fear is that, somehow, she has inherited some artifact or material related to Mao that will, when made public, prove embarrassing. Even though there is no evidence that such even exists, Chen has been charged to infiltrate her social circle, determine if the feared material exists and, if it does, retrieve it quietly. And in only a few days - because if he can't resolve this 'Mao case' within the deadline, the party will resort to harsher, more deadly means.

It sounds like an intriguing story, and setting, and I am looking forward to giving it a go. In lieu of any review from me, you can find some reviews of THE MAO CASE by Qiu Xiaolong, here:
Do you like the sound of crime fiction tied up with political history? Of crime fiction set in China? Have you read THE MAO CASE, or any of Xiaolong's other work? Thoughts and comments welcome.

1 comment:

  1. Craig - Thanks for your focus on this book. I admit I haven't read this one yet, but it does sound interesting. I do like crime fiction that's tied up with political and other history, so this one sounds appealing. I appreciate the links you've left for further reading.