About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Death of a Red Heroine by Qiu Xiaolong

On Sunday I posted a short biography of Qui Xiaolong. Tonight is a review of the first book in the series featuring Inspector Chen. I am linking this review to the Alphabet in Crime Fiction at Mysteries in Paradise where it is a week for the letter "X".

26. - 489.) Death of a Red Heroine by Qiu Xiaolong – It is a great experience when a mystery illustrates a culture, has vivid interesting characters, delves into the personal lives of the characters and includes a convincing narrative. In 1990 the body of a young woman is found in a little used canal. The victim, Guang Hongying, turns out to be a model worker. In Communist China, early into its economic revolution, the Party is supreme. Work and housing are determined by the Party. Status in society is set by rank within the party. All aspects of life are political. Chief Inspector, Chen Cao, of the Shanghai police leads the investigation of this high profile victim. Chen reminds me of Adam Dagleish in that he is a published poet. Chen is constantly referring to classical Chinese poetry. As the investigation leads to a high cadre child (HCC) the investigation becomes even more political. The Party’s need to solve the murder confronts the Party’s need to protect the children of ranking members from scandal. Which political imperative will take precedence? Chen and his dutiful stubborn aide, Comrade Yu, seek the truth. The classic lone lawman pursuing justice despite or against the establishment takes place in a new setting and culture. The conflicting imperatives are subtly drawn. The result is never certain. The solution is suitably political. Lisa See’s mystery looked inside contemporary Communist China but was half American / half Chinese. Xiaolong’s book is all Chinese. I look forward to the next in the series. Chen is a wonderful character. Hardcover or paperback. (July 4/09) (Second Best of 2009 fiction)


  1. Bill - I was looking forward to reading what you thought of this one. I'm glad you enjoyed it. You've put your finger on something that I always enjoy very much about a crime fiction novel - the opportunity to experience a little of a different culture. I really enjoy a novel that authentically portrays a time and place without being overly detailed, condescending or inaccessible. I'm happy to read that Death of a Red Heroine succeeded for you.

  2. Margot: Thanks for the comment. There is a special pleasure when you read a new author and he/she turns out be outstanding.

  3. Bill I have enloyed your review which helped me to remember how much I enjoyed reading this book.

  4. Jose Ignacio: Thank you for the kind comment.