Monday, February 22, 2010

Death of a Red Heroine

This month the Bookshop Ladies Book Club took a look at a slightly older book, published in 2000. Death of a Red Heroine, by Qiu Xiaolong, is a detective novel set in Shanghai in 1990. The country remains under tight communist control as we follow Comrade Chief Inspector Chen through this mystery.

Unfortunately everything, except the very detailed descriptions of life and society in China, is formulaic. The story moved along at a snail’s pace and never delivered any twists or surprises.

From the beginning you suspect that the victim, the Red Heroine, a prominent Communist Party member and “model citizen” is simply too perfect and you would be right. Inspector Chen and the other characters while giving us a window into life in China at the time are two-dimensional and bland.

Though the book is beautifully written in parts and gives a wonderful insight into a strange and difficult time in China’s history I do not think that many of the group would be recommending this as a riveting, page turning read.

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