Well, at first I thought it started out a little slow, but it does pick up towards the end. The ending and entire story line is pretty cliche though. What I found the most interesting was the view into the lifestyles in Shanghai, China, in the early 1990s. I won't be reading any more of this author though, because I felt the story dragged and could easily have been completed in about half the number of pages. Although, that too, may have been deliberate to draw attention to the way things work in China.
The mysteries in these books are secondary to the descriptions of Chinese culture, food and politics.The endings are reminiscent of John LeCarre. Justice is a incomplete idea and never fully realized. Political realities always take precedence.
Perhaps it says something about me but despite those endings Qiu is my favorite author .
This book introduces us to Inspector Chen, a police officer in a China of 1990. China is changing, but the old cadres still have power. Chen must fulfill his desire to do the right thing within the law without antagonizing those in power. Chen is a very interesting character, a man who lives alone, has a widowed mother, and would have preferred to spend his life in academia. He is a poet who has become recognized and published a few times. The young woman whose death Chen must investigate has been a paragon, a national role-model worker. Who has killed her and why? The book is filled with political intrigue and fascinating characters; I enjoyed Death of a Red Heroine.
Excellent book, much better than I expected. Prose is clear and concise. Not only does the author hooks you with the murder investigation, but he also gives you a clear glimpse of what life was like in Shanghai during the early 90's. This is a book that will please not only murder/mystery fans but readers of good fiction in general.
An interesting story on some fronts, but not as well written as I had expected. The story is too long and drawn out, repetitive and amateurish to some degree. It seems that the author had some important things to say, but was afraid of really asserting himself and exposing the massive corruption that permeates all aspects of Chinese bureaucracy.
Ugh, I was SO unimpressed with this book. It was simply too political, and probably could have been shortened by a third. I felt vaguely involved with the characters and with the ending, but I found myself skimming towards the end.
In my opinion, there are two main types of mysteries out there today. When I say the word "murder mystery", most people's minds jump to the traditional "whodunnit", in which the protagonist(s) attempt to discover who the killer is/are. In the other, popularized by the television series "Columbo", the "howdunnit" makes little to no secret over who the villain is the point of the novel is to watch as our protagonist puts the pieces together and attempts to prove that the antagonist is guilty despite their efforts to cover up their crime.
In "Death of a Red Heroine", author Qiu Xiaolong attempts to marry the two and put his own spin on it. The young woman found murdered outside of Shanghai turns out to be a Model Worker, someone who the Party has held up as someone whom the Chinese population should use as an example in their own lives. Inspector Chen faces his first big case in his new job. He has to figure out who the victim is and then who killed her, and why. Meanwhile, two large questions hang overhead is the person he has targeted as his prime suspect actually guilty ("whodunnit") and will the Communist Party allow him to arrest his prime suspect if it turns out to be the correct action, given his position and status? (Add some angst in his personal life to keep him on his toes.)
Having grown up in a capitalistic society, governed in accordance with those of a Republic and a Democracy, I was certainly interested in (in my opinion) the main character of this novel The Communist Party of the People's Republic of China. EVERY decision, every action is either predicated on "What is in the best interests of the Party?" or "How will the Party react to this action?" (Sometimes augmented with "... if they find out.") It's not an attitude I am used to, nor do I believe I could tolerate. However, it added a unique and interesting aspect to what would have been a decent, but unassuming novel.
In my opinion, it's worth a try. Enjoy it. And I'll be looking forward to the second book in the series.