Cover image for When red is black
When red is black
Qiu, Xiaolong, 1953-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Soho Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
309 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
FICTION Adult Fiction Floating Collection - Large Print
FICTION Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

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Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Bureau is taking a vacation, in part because he is annoyed at his boss, the Party Secretary, but also because he has been made an offer he can't refuse by a triad-connected businessman. So Detective Yu, Chen's partner, is forced to take charge of a new murder investigation. But it is only when Inspector Chen returns that the culprit is apprehended. And then Chen discovers how the triad has played him.

Author Notes

Qiu Xiaolong, a prizewinning poet and critic in China, now teaches at Washington University in St. Louis, where he lives with his wife and daughter. His critically acclaimed Inspector Chen mystery series has sold over a million copies and has been published in twenty languages. 

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The third Inspector Chen mystery--the second, Death of a Red Heroine (2000), won the Anthony Award)--is set in today's Shanghai, a city of 13 million people and an uneasy mixture of political and cultural movements, new and refusing to die. What better way to navigate this city than through the adventures of the detectives who handle homicides and disappearances for the Special Case Squad, the unit that deals with politically sensitive crimes? Inspector Chen, a former English major, poetry lover, and dedicated gourmand, briefly steps aside here (he has a translation project taking up his vacation time) and lets his subordinate, the housing-oppressed Detective Yu, handle the murder of a dissident writer, the female author of a novel considered highly critical of the new China. This woman, who lived in a traditional Shanghai shikumen house, had become a social isolate in that most social of buildings. In a somewhat heavy-handed contrivance, Chen's translation project involves a proposal for a modern galleria based on the communal shikumen model, drawing him inevitably back into the investigation. The Chen mysteries proceed at a stately, slow pace, not unlike the meals that Chen enjoys. Plot is secondary to food, to poetry, to politics, and to Chen's highly complex character. For those with similar taste and metabolism, these are mysteries to savor. --Connie Fletcher Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Like its predecessors Death of a Red Heroine (2000) and A Loyal Character Dancer (2002), Qiu's third Inspector Chen mystery provides an insightful look into modern China. When Yin Lige, the author of a banned book, is found murdered in her Shanghai apartment, detective Yu Guangming and his boss, Chief Inspector Chen Cao, must solve a case that may have far-reaching political and social implications. (The "red" of the title refers to Mao Zedong's Red Guard, the "black" to the supposed enemies of the working class denounced during the Cultural Revolution.) Yu doggedly pursues all leads, even as personal misfortunes threaten to ruin his life. Chen must help from afar as he takes time off to earn extra income translating business documents for an ambitious entrepreneur. Suspects range from the poignant "shrimp woman," who peels shrimp for a living, to possible enemies from the distant past. Yu soon uncovers the long-ago romance between the victim and Yang Bing, a college professor. This love affair, delicately rendered, allows the author to include many fragile but beautiful Chinese poems. Deftly depicting a China fractured along class and party lines even in matters of love, Qiu also dramatically demonstrates how the past affects the daily lives of Chinese people today. Only a banal solution to the mystery spoils an otherwise engrossing read. (July 1) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved