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When Red is Black by Xiaolong Qiu

When Red is Black (2004)

by Xiaolong Qiu

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5282530,505 (3.66)31
When Inspector Chen Cao agrees to do a translation job for a Triad-connected businessman he is given a laptop, a 'little secretary' to provide for his every need, medical care for his mother. There are, it seems, no strings attached . . . Then a murder is reported: Chen is loath to shorten his working holiday, so Sergeant Yu is forced to take charge of the investigation. The victim, a middle-aged teacher, has been found dead in her tiny room in a converted multi-family house. Only a neighbour could have committed the crime, but there is no motive. It is only when Chen returns and starts to investigate the past that he finds answers. But by then he has troubles of his own.… (more)



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Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
The look at life in Shanghai in the 1990s was more interesting than the murder mystery but it was still a satisfying mystery. ( )
  leslie.98 | Aug 21, 2018 |
As the third book in the Inspector Chen mystery series, When Red is Black took me a bit longer to get into it than the previous novels, but for obvious enough reasons. Whereas the first two books in the series remained focused on Inspector Chen, this installment has a dual focus on him and his lead detective. The book's blurb didn't suggest this in any way at all, so although I enjoyed getting to know Yu and his family, the split focus of the book just wasn't what I was expecting, and I think my reading experience suffered for it. That said, Xiaolong's style and narrative still sucked me in, and I ended up really enjoying the book. I imagine that future books in the series with a split focus like this will be easier to slip into (assuming there'll be some), but Chen's character is still such that I hope most of the books simply focus on him.

In any case, I'd certainly recommend it to fans of the earlier books in the series, though I'm not sure it's capable of quite the same power of inertia. One way or another, I'm looking forward to picking up the next book in the series. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Mar 16, 2018 |
Non e' esaltante da nessun punto di vista, ma neanche tremendo. La parte migliore (anche se di poco) e' sicuramente la cornice in cui la vicenda e' inserita; ma probabilmente lo diventa solo agli occhi di un pubblico poco abituato (a causa di un mercato, sia letterario sia cinematografico, che ritiene piu' profittevole proporre centinaia di americanate tutte uguali e di nessun valore scegliendo invece poco e niente dall'altra parte) alla narrativa asiatica. ( )
  Mlvtrglvn | Jan 5, 2018 |
L'ispettore capo Chen non è certo un simpaticone. Ha ragione Nuvola Bianca. Sarà anche un grand'uomo, ma non ci sa fare granché né con le belle ragazze né con i lettori.
Molto meglio il suo secondo Yu, e meno male che l'ha capito anche Qiu Xialong che, questa volta gli lascia tutto lo spazio che occorre.
Il plot giallo non è male (anche se non eccezionale), ma pare che nella Cina di Qiu muoiano di morte violenta solo le donne, chissà perché.
L'accurata descrizione della vita a Shangai oggi, dal socialismo al cibo, dalle joint venture alle esigenze del partito (compromessi con le coscienze compresi) è entusiasmante e vale la lettura. Non ho ancora letto nulla sulla vita odierna in Cina di così vivo e articolato.
Se con il secondo giallo Qiu aveva toppato alla grande questo, terzo, è il libro del riscatto.

Ps. non leggetelo senza procurarvi in rete qualche immagine di shikumen
( )
  icaro. | Aug 31, 2017 |
When Red is Black is the third in the Inspector Chen mysteries, which are based in Shanghai in the 1990's. They feature Chief Inspector Chen Cao and his partner Detective Yu Guangming of the Shanghai Police Bureau, who are responsible for Special Cases (mostly politically sensitive.)

Detective Yu finds himself investigating the murder of Yin Lige, a university lecturer and author of a semi-autobiographical novel "Death of a Chinese Professor" about an illicit affair she had with an older Professor, while both were at a re-education camp. Meanwhile, Inspector Chen is on vacation as he has been asked to work on a translation of a proposal for a new shopping and office development in Shanghai, so that it can attract American investment.

This series is fascinating, portraying China, and in particular Shanghai, at a point of transition. The Cultural Revolution, and all its effects, belong to the recent past for the characters, yet at the same time Shanghai can be seen to be heading toward the modern city it is now.

This particular book gives Detective Yu a chance to shine, as, with Chen on vacation, he is in charge of the case. I appreciated seeing things from his perspective, rather than that of the "high-flyer" Chen. I also liked seeing his wife take an active role, and the relationship between them, and their son. Chen's venture into the slightly murky world ofguanxi in the real estate business was equally interesting for me. One of the strengths of the author is being able to let you see how the characters way of thinking has been influenced both by their experiences and the world around them.

I will admit that Iwasn't all that interested in how the crime took place or who was responsible. In many ways, the mystery is not really important. Instead it is the depiction of the city and time the characters inhabit. I will definitely be reading more of this series.

Why I picked it up: I enjoyed the first two in the series, and because I'm currently living in Shanghai and it's interesting to see the changes. ( )
3 vote Scorbet | Aug 20, 2013 |
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In memory of my parents Renfu and Yuee, who, like many Chinese people in the book suffered during the Cultural Revolution because they were politically black.
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Detectice Yu Guangming of the Shanghai Police Bureau stood alone, still reeling from the blow.
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