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Midnight in Peking by Paul French

Midnight in Peking (2011)

by Paul French

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Wow! Do not pick this book up until you have a solid stretch of time in which to NOT sleep and NOT go to work. This amazing story hooked me with the lurid murder, but kept my attention by describing the intricate political world of pre-WW II Peking on the eve of its destruction. My heart can't help but feel that the father of the murder victim, being a scholar, knew exactly what he was doing when he recorded his private investigations through official channels. The scholar Werner did not find justice in his lifetime, but--thanks to the efforts of Paul French--at least the story is published for a wider sense of rightness. The best thing I've read all year. ( )
  LaurelPoe | Dec 25, 2017 |
Just finished reading "Midnight in Peking: How the murder of a young Englishwoman haunted the last days of old China" by Paul French. This is non-fiction and takes place in 1937 when a 19 year old English woman is found murdered and mutilated in Peking. The murder was investigated by a British detective and a Chinese detective. Peking is surrounded by the Japanese. The murder isn't solved although the woman's father takes up the cause and appears to have come up with the right solution but the war prevented anything from happening
  taurus27 | Apr 25, 2017 |
Midnight in Peking. How the murder of a young Englishwoman haunted the last days of Old China and The badlands. Decadent playground of Old Peking are two closely related books, authored by Paul French, the editor of the in-house publication series of the Royal Asiatic Society. The badlands. Decadent playground of Old Peking is a small booklet that describes the seedy area of gambling houses, cabarets, brothels and opium dens directly to the east of the Legation Quarter in Beijing during the 1920s -- 1930s. This area is the setting of the drama in Midnight in Peking. How the murder of a young Englishwoman haunted the last days of Old China.

For a long time, foreigners had the position, almost as untouchables, but also in a sense of neglect. The Chinese mainly tend to see the foreign presence as a pollution, and tend to ignore it as well as they can. During the late years of the Qing dynasty diplomats lived in the Legation Quarter, and a relatively small number of foreigners lived in other parts of the city, notably George Ernest Morrison who lived in Wangfujing Street, then called Morrison Street, Sir Edmund Backhouse and Sir Reginald Fleming Johnston, tutor of Puyi. These people were sinologists and newspapermen. A more colourful riff-raff of Russians and other foreigners resided in the seedy quarter known as the badlands north of the Hadamen Gate. It was in this area that the young Pamela Werner, daughter of a sinologist and diplomat, looked for adventure and met with a gruesome death.

Midnight in Peking. How the murder of a young Englishwoman haunted the last days of Old China describes the events and points at the most likely culprit at whose hands Pamela met with her death. It is a chilling story, which French pieced together from the archive of Pamela's father and circumstantial other evidence. The book is written in the style of a detective story, but still sufficiently factual to pass as a hybrid between scholarly work and popular science. ( )
  edwinbcn | Oct 7, 2016 |
All the traditional elements of a great murder mystery are here: exotic locale in 1930s Peking, West vs East, a dead young woman who was a bit of a rebel, corrupt or ineffective police, cover-ups, an obsessive father, seamy underbelly of Peking populated by thugs, slimy rich guys, pimps and working girls. A story that could easily have been shifted overseas and written up as fiction by Ian Rankin. ARC from Penguin via Goodreads giveaway. ( )
  TheBookJunky | Apr 22, 2016 |
I've read good things about Paul French's books and looked forward to reading this one - a true story of the murder of a young woman in Peking in 1935, the bungled official police investigation and how her determined father finally solved the crime. This story has everything: sex, drugs, alcohol,corrupt politicians and decadent colonial residents, so it should have been a rip-roaring read. Yet somehow it wasn't.

French has investigated all the facts, but he tells his story in a clinical passionless manner that I never truly got caught up in what should have been a truly riveting story. Maybe this should story would have been better done in the hands of Erik Larsen. ( )
  etxgardener | Dec 19, 2015 |
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The north wind came in the night, ice covers the waters: Once our young sister has gone she will never return. - Traditional Song of the Canal People of Northern China Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight. - Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Fautus

The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness. - Joseph Conrad, Under Western Eyes
For the innocent. For Pamela
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The eastern section of old Peking has been dominated since the fifteenth century by a looming watchtower, built as part of the Tartar Wall to protect the city from invaders.
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Peking in 1937 is a heady mix of privilege and scandal, opulence and opium dens, rumors and superstition. The Japanese are encircling the city, and the discovery of Pamela Werner's body sends a shiver through already nervous Peking. Is it the work of a madman? One of the ruthless Japanese soldiers now surrounding the city? Or perhaps the dreaded fox spirits? With the suspect list growing and clues sparse, two dectectivres-one British and one Chinese-race against the clock to solve the crime before the Japanese invade and Peking as they know it is gone forever. Can they find the killer in time? (ARC)
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Historian and China expert Paul French uncovers the truth behind the notorious murder of Pamela Werner, and offers a rare glimpse of the last days of colonial Peking.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0670080926, 0143567527

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