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Thief of Souls

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The brutal murder of a young woman in a rural village in Northern China sends shockwaves all the way to Beijing--but seemingly only Inspector Lu Fei, living in exile in the small town, is interested in justice for the victim. Lu Fei is a graduate of China's top police college but he's been assigned to a sleepy backwater town in northern China, where almost nothing happens a The brutal murder of a young woman in a rural village in Northern China sends shockwaves all the way to Beijing--but seemingly only Inspector Lu Fei, living in exile in the small town, is interested in justice for the victim. Lu Fei is a graduate of China's top police college but he's been assigned to a sleepy backwater town in northern China, where almost nothing happens and the theft of a few chickens represents a major crime wave. That is until a young woman is found dead, her organs removed, and joss paper stuffed in her mouth. The CID in Beijing--headed by a rising political star--is on the case but in an increasingly authoritarian China, prosperity and political stability are far more important than solving the murder of an insignificant village girl. As such, the CID head is interested in pinning the crime on the first available suspect rather than wading into uncomfortable truths, leaving Lu Fei on his own. As Lu digs deeper into the gruesome murder, he finds himself facing old enemies and creating new ones in the form of local Communist Party bosses and corrupt business interests. Despite these rising obstacles, Lu remains determined to find the real killer, especially after he links the murder to other unsolved homicides. But the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery, the more he puts himself and his loved ones in danger.


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The brutal murder of a young woman in a rural village in Northern China sends shockwaves all the way to Beijing--but seemingly only Inspector Lu Fei, living in exile in the small town, is interested in justice for the victim. Lu Fei is a graduate of China's top police college but he's been assigned to a sleepy backwater town in northern China, where almost nothing happens a The brutal murder of a young woman in a rural village in Northern China sends shockwaves all the way to Beijing--but seemingly only Inspector Lu Fei, living in exile in the small town, is interested in justice for the victim. Lu Fei is a graduate of China's top police college but he's been assigned to a sleepy backwater town in northern China, where almost nothing happens and the theft of a few chickens represents a major crime wave. That is until a young woman is found dead, her organs removed, and joss paper stuffed in her mouth. The CID in Beijing--headed by a rising political star--is on the case but in an increasingly authoritarian China, prosperity and political stability are far more important than solving the murder of an insignificant village girl. As such, the CID head is interested in pinning the crime on the first available suspect rather than wading into uncomfortable truths, leaving Lu Fei on his own. As Lu digs deeper into the gruesome murder, he finds himself facing old enemies and creating new ones in the form of local Communist Party bosses and corrupt business interests. Despite these rising obstacles, Lu remains determined to find the real killer, especially after he links the murder to other unsolved homicides. But the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery, the more he puts himself and his loved ones in danger.

30 review for Thief of Souls

  1. 5 out of 5

    MarilynW

    Thief of Souls (Inspector Lu Fei Mystery) by Brian Klingborg  I don't think I've ever read a book that takes place in China and certainly not a modern day story. Inspector Lu Fei, who graduated from the police academy at the top of his class, has been exiled to a tiny rural town where nothing much happens. But Lu is happy here, he has his work, which he does with great attention to doing the job well, he has his drink and his favorite drinking location, a bar owned by a young widow. Unlike most m Thief of Souls (Inspector Lu Fei Mystery) by Brian Klingborg  I don't think I've ever read a book that takes place in China and certainly not a modern day story. Inspector Lu Fei, who graduated from the police academy at the top of his class, has been exiled to a tiny rural town where nothing much happens. But Lu is happy here, he has his work, which he does with great attention to doing the job well, he has his drink and his favorite drinking location, a bar owned by a young widow. Unlike most men in his circumstances, he doesn't want a trophy wife, he wants to marry for love even if that means not ever marrying at all.  This is a dark story with explicit violence. The temps hover below freezing and even indoors can be freezing. When a woman is found murdered in her home, with her organs removed, the body is well preserved due to the temps. Outside help is summoned and Lu then has to answer to Superintendent Song, Deputy Director of the Criminal Investigation Bureau. Politics play heavily in every aspect of life in China and that fact drives the investigation, whether it means ignoring the misdeeds of those in power or trying to railroad persons of interest into confessing something they might not have done. This is not Lu's way and he butts heads with Song, until they develop an uneasy partnership.  Soon, Lu is checking on other murders that are similar to the one in his town. Lu is a good cop but he's not adverse to finding the information he needs even if he has to slip through the cracks to get past his superiors. He wants to find the killer and he wants to keep more women from dying. We are there for the violence against women but also for the violence inflected on Lu by members of the police force who do not like him. I did see humor in the story at times but mostly I was sad at how hard things appear to be for the people and how much corruption thrives in the politics of the country and those who have power over others.  Publication: May 4th 2021 Thank you to St. Martin's Press/Minotaur Books and NetGalley for this ARC.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    4 solid stars for an engrossing mystery set in rural Northern China. Raven Valley is 70 Kilometers from Harbin and Lu Fei is the Deputy Chief of the township PSB(Public Security Bureau) station. PSB is analogous to a Western Police Department. Winters in this area are very cold, and houses are poorly heated. Lu Fei gets a call on his night off, because the duty constable cannot find the chief. There has been a murder. Yang Fenfang has been found dead. She is from this small village but moved to 4 solid stars for an engrossing mystery set in rural Northern China. Raven Valley is 70 Kilometers from Harbin and Lu Fei is the Deputy Chief of the township PSB(Public Security Bureau) station. PSB is analogous to a Western Police Department. Winters in this area are very cold, and houses are poorly heated. Lu Fei gets a call on his night off, because the duty constable cannot find the chief. There has been a murder. Yang Fenfang has been found dead. She is from this small village but moved to Harbin several years ago. She returned to Raven Valley to care for her sick mom, who died just 1 week ago.. While the initial suspect is an ex boy friend of Yang Fenfang, there are many twists and turns in the plot. I was not sure who the killer was until near the end. I liked the characters, especially Lu Fei, a lonely, but dedicated policemen. Lu Fei calls this in to the Beijing PSB headquarters and Superintendent Song, Deputy Director of the Criminal Investigation Bureau decides to bring his team to investigate. Song and Lu form an unlikely partnership. The PSB is riven with corruption and interfering politicians. How Lu manages to find the killer makes for a very good read. There is some side story about his non existent love life. The author is an American who has studied Chinese literature at Harvard. He has done much research and portrays life in rural China authentically to this reader. I have only been to China once, as a tourist, but I have read other mysteries by Chinese authors. His description of Chinese customs and beliefs, particularly ancestor worship, ring true to me. The book is divided into days, as the investigation progresses. Two quotes: PSB entering a house: "Lu doesn't bother to knock. In the People's Republic, private property remains a loosely interpreted concept. He opens the door and yells, 'Public Security Bureau!" Interrogation: "In the people's Republic, there is no legal 'right to remain silent" and no law that requires a lawyer to be present during initial police questioning, so Song launches right in." I will read more of this author's books if he publishes more. I read this book in 3 days. Thanks to St Martin's Press/Minotaur Books for sending me this eARC through NetGalley. #ThiefofSouls #NetGalley

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest I love mysteries so I was excited to get a copy of THIEF OF SOULS. This is a really good noir crime drama set in China. The author is not Chinese but he majored in Cultural Anthropology in Harvard and lived and worked in China, so all of the details felt really vivid and meshed with the #OwnVoices works of fiction that I have read. The main character is a man named Lu who was given a promotion that was a punishment, as it banished him fr Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest I love mysteries so I was excited to get a copy of THIEF OF SOULS. This is a really good noir crime drama set in China. The author is not Chinese but he majored in Cultural Anthropology in Harvard and lived and worked in China, so all of the details felt really vivid and meshed with the #OwnVoices works of fiction that I have read. The main character is a man named Lu who was given a promotion that was a punishment, as it banished him from Harbin to the rural countryside, where there isn't really any "real crime." Until, of course, one day there is. Not only is this a murder mystery, it's also a really interesting look at the idea of "face," and how complex the business relations can be in China when everyone is trying to follow protocol. The perp is super creepy and the backstory for them was great, too. Lu is also very sarcastic and jaded, which you would expect for a noir crime hero. I found myself really liking the dark humor in the book as it fit well with the mood the author was trying to create. I think if you like Scandinavian-type crime thrillers, you'll really enjoy this, as it has the same hardened noir vibe. I see that this is book one in a new series and I'll definitely be reading book two. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review! 4 stars

  4. 5 out of 5

    Katie B

    3.5 stars I read a lot of mysteries and the setting of China was the motivating factor in me choosing this one. The cultural aspects of this story held my interest the most and the mystery itself is decent but I wouldn't say it knocked my socks off. It's an average mystery but the historical facts the author incorporates into the story enhances the book for sure. Inspector Lu Fei works for the police force in a small Northern China town. A young woman is found dead and her organs have been removed 3.5 stars I read a lot of mysteries and the setting of China was the motivating factor in me choosing this one. The cultural aspects of this story held my interest the most and the mystery itself is decent but I wouldn't say it knocked my socks off. It's an average mystery but the historical facts the author incorporates into the story enhances the book for sure. Inspector Lu Fei works for the police force in a small Northern China town. A young woman is found dead and her organs have been removed. It's fair to say this case will present some challenges for Lu Fei as he attempts to figure everything out. There is a great deal of background info about the country that is provided by the author. I've always loved police detective mysteries and the fact this one took place in China did bring something unique to the table. Things like the political atmosphere both past and present just added these complex layers to the story. With that being said, my knowledge of the history of China is probably similar to the average American. So the book presented the opportunity to learn a thing or two and made it a worthwhile read. However, if you already know a lot about China going in, perhaps the mystery just won't be enough to sustain your interest. This book is the first in the series and while you get little bits about the main character's personal life, I do hope there is more development with him in future books. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with an advance copy! All thoughts expressed are my honest opinion.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    Nothing too exciting happens in the quiet town of Raven Valley Township in northern China, which doesn’t bother Inspector Lu Fei much. He prefers it, in fact, to his previous job in the much larger city of Harbin, where he did not get along with his superior officer. Suddenly, Lu finds himself jolted into action when a young woman’s body is found dead and left in a bizarre condition. What kind of killer is responsible for this? Is he a sexual sadist? A religious fanatic? Perhaps both? Thief of S Nothing too exciting happens in the quiet town of Raven Valley Township in northern China, which doesn’t bother Inspector Lu Fei much. He prefers it, in fact, to his previous job in the much larger city of Harbin, where he did not get along with his superior officer. Suddenly, Lu finds himself jolted into action when a young woman’s body is found dead and left in a bizarre condition. What kind of killer is responsible for this? Is he a sexual sadist? A religious fanatic? Perhaps both? Thief of Souls is Brian Klingborg’s first novel is what appears to be a series featuring Lu Fei. Our protagonist is an interesting character. He is in his late 30s, is single, and he is a graduate of a top police academy in China. He has also trained in Michigan. He seldom dates, but he spends a lot of time at the Red Lotus Bar drinking alone and hoping to engage the owner, Luo Yanyan in conversation. As a detective, Lu has good instincts, and he often does not hesitate to question higher-ranking officials, especially when it is his case. What surprised me was his flair for martial arts. Despite what seems to be his outwardly calm demeanor, Lu Fei can fight when he has to. And he doesn’t take any nonsense from his men, either. As a police procedural, Klingborg’s plot moves along fairly well. The writing often struck me as dull, dry, and at times, didactic. Each chapter begins with a quote from Chairman Mao, and also we get plenty of information about Chinese politics and culture. There were spots of humor, though. I especially liked the nicknames, like Lu’s nickname for Chu – Yuehan Weien – after the American actor John Wayne! Some of the conversations seem stilted; perhaps that’s normal in China, but I found it made for lackluster reading. There is a second Lu Fei novel coming out later this year. Some may be looking forward to it; while I found Thief of Souls entertaining at times, I will take a pass the second time around. I received a complimentary copy from the publisher of St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley in exchange for my unbiased review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. 3 stars

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lou Jacobs

    Thief of Souls March 19, 2021 Book Review Thief of Souls Brian Klingborg reviewed by Lou Jacobs readersremains.com | Goodreads An immersive police procedural involving a serial killer, with a healthy dose of humor, history, philosophy, and an unbridled rich characterization. The setting is contemporary Communist China, in which ethical Inspector Lu Fei faces the challenge of seeking justice in a complex and corrupt society. Inspector Lu Fei is a graduate of China’s top police university, yet finds him Thief of Souls March 19, 2021 Book Review Thief of Souls Brian Klingborg reviewed by Lou Jacobs readersremains.com | Goodreads An immersive police procedural involving a serial killer, with a healthy dose of humor, history, philosophy, and an unbridled rich characterization. The setting is contemporary Communist China, in which ethical Inspector Lu Fei faces the challenge of seeking justice in a complex and corrupt society. Inspector Lu Fei is a graduate of China’s top police university, yet finds himself entrenched in a small backwater provincial town of Raven Valley Township, where major crime is a rarity. This “promotion” position is a result of an unfortunate confrontation with his corrupt boss of the Harbin City Police Department, when Inspector Lu Fei, executing an unscheduled raid, found his boss engaged in the service of an underage prostitute. Lu Fei is enjoying a cup of Shaoxing wine at his neighborhood bar, The Red Lotus, when his cell phone rings. This breaks him from the reverie of admiration and desire for the beautiful owner, Yanyan (a harbinger of future conflict), summoned to a murder scene. There, a young woman, Yang Fenfag, was found brutally murdered in her bathroom by a neighbor, who came over to complain about the incessant barking of her dog. Inspector Lu is confronted by a corpse with ligature marks on the wrists and welts around the neck, dressed in yellow silk button-up dress and made-up with powder on the cheeks, lipstick, and eyeshadow, looking like a porcelain doll with her cold, dead eyes staring upward. His search of the house is fruitless, without obvious signs of struggle; no blood, no mess. He enlists the aid of the forensic team from the CID in Beijing which consists of Deputy Director Song, a rising political star in the complex authoritarian hierarchy of the Chinese police department, along with two crime technicians and the inimitable Dr. Ma, the medical examiner. A unique and richly developed character, Dr Ma Xiulan is one of only a few woman to achieve a high position in the forensic field. Author of a controversial book that criticizes the current state of forensics in China, her work maintains that it is slipshod and subject to political tampering. Her book jacket contains a photo of her in full make-up and a low-cut blouse, offering a significant amount of cleavage. With the aid of Song and Dr. Ma, it is revealed the victim has been bludgeoned by a hammer, violated, and has had her heart, lungs, and liver harvested. And, stuffed into her mouth is a single pledget of joss paper, also known as spirit money or Hell money. According to Chinese folk religion, in the afterlife the soul requires money to buy needed essentials. After a loved one dies, relatives and friends make these paper offerings in a show of love and devotion, something like making a deposit in a spectral Venmo account. These notes are signed in front by the Jade Emperor and in back by Yan Wang, the god of death and ruler of the netherworld. Lu Fei opines that the heart, liver, and lungs are imbued with some aspects of the soul or spirit. Perhaps by removing them, the killer is trying to “steal her soul.” In the early stage of investigation, a shadow is cast upon an old high school boyfriend of Fenfag. A simple, not too bright male, Zhang was noted to follow her around in high school like a lost little puppy. Although there is no known history of violence, he is physically imposing, socially awkward, and is employed in a position where he butchers pigs at a processing plant. Lu Fei is pressured by the local government bureaucracy to arrest and charge him for the murder. He will not be rushed and methodically pursues for a full investigation. He is a true rarity, as the average Chinese citizen has been exposed to hundreds of years of corruption, abuse, and incompetency in their police force. Some, referring to the character of Inspector Lu, indicate he is as rare as a Qilin, the Chinese unicorn. In Thief of Souls, Brian Klingborg provides a masterful and immersive narrative creating a riveting twisted string of reveals that propels this page turner onward. Most chapters begin with a quote from Chairman Mao Zedong, espousing socialist dogma and virtues that will be deconstructed in the chapter, while providing further insights into the realities of modern China. Several chapters involve the inner thoughts of the unidentified killer, slowly revealing his motivations. The resourceful and ethical Lu Fei will not be deterred in his investigation to bring forth justice. He forms an unlikely friendship and alliance with Deputy Director Song that proves mutually beneficial. This novel will appeal to fans of beloved Detective Bernie Gunther from the pen of Philip Kerr and Deon Meyer’s equally enjoyed Detective Benny Griessel. Klingborn’s knowledge of East Asian Studies and his experience with living and working in Asia are on full display in this fascinating tale. Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press (Minatour Books) for supplying an Uncorrected Proof in exchange for an honest review. Published at Mystery and Suspense Magazine Available on Amazon

  7. 5 out of 5

    Monica

    Interesting as a police procedural novel - I also learned a lot due to the setting in rural China. Well written characters but not a thrilling story line. Thanks to NetGalley and publishers for the free advanced copy.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    Police procedurals, post 87th Precinct, seem to all have similar setups -- if the series is to continue, there is a recognizable set of rascals and heroes populating the stationhouse, no matter whether the location is in Manhattan, Detroit, Saudi Arabia, Sicily, Rio de Janero, Dublin along with many other UK locations. Wherever the setting, it's the interplay between the central character and his coworkers that provides for me the greatest interest along with information about the surrounding co Police procedurals, post 87th Precinct, seem to all have similar setups -- if the series is to continue, there is a recognizable set of rascals and heroes populating the stationhouse, no matter whether the location is in Manhattan, Detroit, Saudi Arabia, Sicily, Rio de Janero, Dublin along with many other UK locations. Wherever the setting, it's the interplay between the central character and his coworkers that provides for me the greatest interest along with information about the surrounding country, its customs and procedures. So here we are in provincial China, several air hours from Beijing. Since local stations don't usually experience anything more dire than a stolen pig or a malfunctioning traffic light (or the occasional request by an elder regarding malfunctioning Internet connection), resources are limited, so when a particularly grisly murder is discovered, it is necessary to have a big city squad fly in. Each chapter in Thief of Souls starts out with a quote from Chairman Mao, but is then followed by deconstruction of that ideology, providing a clear picture of life in today's China complete with whatever traditions (usually based on the theology of Dao) survive. Interaction between the police force and the townspeople has moments of high hilarity, and Brian Klingborg, well versed in martial arts, provides action scenes that resonate off the page. I am hoping that this is the first of what will prove to be a long series.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Gail C.

    This was a difficult book for me to read. While Inspector Lu had some positive aspects, I found him difficult to like. The remaining characters in law enforcement were even more unpleasant. I also didn't care for the negative way the society was presented. While China is a very different social and political structure, there was nothing positive about it in the entire book, which left reading the book feel more like an obligation than an enjoyable experience. I almost gave up about 50% of the wa This was a difficult book for me to read. While Inspector Lu had some positive aspects, I found him difficult to like. The remaining characters in law enforcement were even more unpleasant. I also didn't care for the negative way the society was presented. While China is a very different social and political structure, there was nothing positive about it in the entire book, which left reading the book feel more like an obligation than an enjoyable experience. I almost gave up about 50% of the way through, but I continued to work to finish the book, doing some skimming to finish it faster. My thanks to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me an advance digital copy of this book for review.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Inspector Lu Fei was trained in Beijing, and was working for the Harbin City Police Department until he called a raid that found his boss in a compromising situation. Oops! He found himself quickly transferred to the small town of Wuxi in northern China. His current preoccupation is drinking too much Shaoxing wine at the Red Lotus Bar and pining after its beautiful owner, Luo Yanyan. That is until he receives a phone call reporting the bizarre death of Yang Fenfag. The woman has had her lungs, li Inspector Lu Fei was trained in Beijing, and was working for the Harbin City Police Department until he called a raid that found his boss in a compromising situation. Oops! He found himself quickly transferred to the small town of Wuxi in northern China. His current preoccupation is drinking too much Shaoxing wine at the Red Lotus Bar and pining after its beautiful owner, Luo Yanyan. That is until he receives a phone call reporting the bizarre death of Yang Fenfag. The woman has had her lungs, liver, and heart removed and joss paper placed in her mouth. [According to Chinese folk religion, in the afterlife the soul requires money to buy needed essentials.] A local butcher is accused of the crime, but Lu Fei is not convinced. Lu enjoys support from Deputy Director Song and medical examiner Dr. Ma Xiulan, but also resistance from some local Communist Party bosses and their corrupt business associates. Good thing that Lu is skilled in martial art fighting. Lu’s integrity has been described as rare as a Qilin, the Chinese unicorn. Klingborg has spent several years living in China and his intimate knowledge of the country shines through. However, one hopes that his writing outgrows the stiffness and occasional wooden quality demonstrated here. Recommend this atmospheric crime thriller.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dianne

    He graduated from a top police academy with a brilliant and tenacious mind so when Inspector Lu Fei finds himself stationed in a small rural village he did not expect to have to deal with a brutal murder and the dark machinations of both corrupt government politicos and powerful businessmen. Could discovering the truth mean danger for himself and those he loves? Brian Klingborg’s THIEF OF SOULS takes on a journey through a different culture and a way of life steeped in centuries of tradition. Of He graduated from a top police academy with a brilliant and tenacious mind so when Inspector Lu Fei finds himself stationed in a small rural village he did not expect to have to deal with a brutal murder and the dark machinations of both corrupt government politicos and powerful businessmen. Could discovering the truth mean danger for himself and those he loves? Brian Klingborg’s THIEF OF SOULS takes on a journey through a different culture and a way of life steeped in centuries of tradition. Often as much of a tour guide as it is a mystery, this tale is rich in detail, suspense and danger. If you are looking for something just a little different in your suspense reading, this one is it. I received a complimentary ARC edition from Minotaur Books! This is my honest and voluntary review. Publisher : Minotaur Books (May 4, 2021) Genre: Murder Mystery Print length : 288 pages Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble For Reviews, Giveaways, Fabulous Book News, follow: http://tometender.blogspot.com

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette

    Here's the new series of the year. Absolutely. 4.5 stars and nearly a 5. Only the brutality of the last 20 pages kept me from giving it the full 5. Not only a terrific characterization in at least 6 comrade police but on nearly all levels of locale and politico or intersection placements- this was done in superior manner. Prose flow, colloquial dialect nuance, personality quirk and idiosyncrasy superb. Lu Fei is as much a part of Northern Chinese culture/authority cognition, mores, savvy as a Br Here's the new series of the year. Absolutely. 4.5 stars and nearly a 5. Only the brutality of the last 20 pages kept me from giving it the full 5. Not only a terrific characterization in at least 6 comrade police but on nearly all levels of locale and politico or intersection placements- this was done in superior manner. Prose flow, colloquial dialect nuance, personality quirk and idiosyncrasy superb. Lu Fei is as much a part of Northern Chinese culture/authority cognition, mores, savvy as a Brunetti is Venetian or Miss Marple part of the English 1930's town life. It's remarkable. You know how many years this author has lived in the East to translate the parlance this well. And to also start each chapter with a relevant quote from Chairman Mao. It reminded me immensely in several aspects to a Agatha Christie. The divergence to "other attentions" was done THAT well. Until page 244, I didn't have the least positing to the real perp. And the politico of big city to township cabals took over my Lu concern. That's the type of diversion and illusion Agatha did so well. And this one in this locale and with these sets of hospital, policing, neighborhood "friends" scenarios! It's absolutely intriguing. But also BE WARNED. You cozy people are not going to like the real in this one. Serial killer Daoist style and that's putting it mildly. But the only truly horrific parts were in the last 20 pages. Do I see this being made into a movie. It would be on a par with the Montalbano police station in Sicily that was done so perfectly in that film series. Strongly recommend if you are a mystery, procedural, police who-dun-it buff. Strongly recommend. Those of us who lived through those times and saw witness remember the 30 million plus starvation dead through the Great Leap Forward. (You got to break a few eggs). But for those of you who really do not understand the last century's Chinese Revolution; I double recommend this one. You'll learn something. There are some other (dozens really) total comparable situations with my home town. "Guanxi. Connections. Influence. Power. The grease that turns wheels at all levels of business and politics in the People's Republic. With the right guanxi, you can make a fortune in business. Flout laws. Ignore regulations." Also reading this taught me a new favorite Chinese phrase "Ta ma de". Lu says it all the time. Yes, there is quite a bit of language here too. From the highly graphic to the occasional traditional stanzas of Chinese historic poetry. Tang dynasty had no composite hierarchy more complex than the present one. Enjoy! "Ta ma de". Entertaining value- this was a 6 star book for me if you only take the "think" piece enjoyment quotient into full consideration.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bam cooks the books ;-)

    *3.5 stars. This new mystery, the first in a proposed series featuring Deputy Chief Inspector Lu Fei, is a police procedural set in rural northern China. A young woman is found murdered in her deceased mother's home. Some electronics are missing--was it a robbery gone wrong? No, the body was too perfectly staged. Lu feels he and his inexperienced team at the the local Public Security Bureau will need help in this investigation so he calls in the Crime Investigation Bureau, much to the chagrin of *3.5 stars. This new mystery, the first in a proposed series featuring Deputy Chief Inspector Lu Fei, is a police procedural set in rural northern China. A young woman is found murdered in her deceased mother's home. Some electronics are missing--was it a robbery gone wrong? No, the body was too perfectly staged. Lu feels he and his inexperienced team at the the local Public Security Bureau will need help in this investigation so he calls in the Crime Investigation Bureau, much to the chagrin of his chief. 'A homicide investigation is rarely just about the homicide itself. There's always some degree of politics involved. The cops, the local party representatives and government officials, the prosecutors--everyone has an agenda. a desire to advance one's career. Often at the expense of others. Sometimes at the expense of the truth.' Each chapter begins with a quotation from Chairman Mao Zedong, which contrasts nicely with this view of modern-day China and how the system functions there. Lu, college-educated, is also fond of quoting Confucius and snatches of poetry. He is an interesting character, around 40 and never married, but carrying a torch for a local widow who runs his favorite bar. He can be opinionated and violent at times and sadly mistaken on occasion. Perhaps it's fortunate he's not a climber and is happy being deputy chief at a rural security bureau. The mystery itself is intriguing but, being long-time mystery readers, both my husband and I easily guessed the murderer fairly early on, so that detracted somewhat from our reading experience. The conclusion was still very exciting. I'll look forward to reading more to come from this author. I received an arc of this mystery from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks for the opportunity.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Helen Howerton

    Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher, Minotaur Books for this Advanced Reader Copy and the opportunity to review Thief of Souls by Brian Klingborg. All opinions are my own. Inspector Lu Fei of the Raven Valley Public Security Bureau (the Chinese equivalent of a police department) likes to drink. That doesn’t stop him from being a good policeman. And in Thief of Souls, he is going to get his chance. A young woman is murdered inside her home, in a rural area outside the city. The investigation Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher, Minotaur Books for this Advanced Reader Copy and the opportunity to review Thief of Souls by Brian Klingborg. All opinions are my own. Inspector Lu Fei of the Raven Valley Public Security Bureau (the Chinese equivalent of a police department) likes to drink. That doesn’t stop him from being a good policeman. And in Thief of Souls, he is going to get his chance. A young woman is murdered inside her home, in a rural area outside the city. The investigation begins, and a culprit soon identified and charged. Case closed, according to most of the other officers, including a high-flying team from Beijing. But Lu Fei doesn’t believe it, and he begins his own investigation, revealing a cast of characters and situations that rivals anything you’ll come up against in a “western” setting. Add to that the juxtaposition of modern Chinese settings with ancient traditions and passions, and you have a crackling, intelligent story that will keep you absorbed from page to page. There is a lot of description in this book, but it’s needed, providing a look at a culture most readers will likely know very little about. For good measure chapter headings are quotations from Mao Zedong. Nothing in China is far from reminders of the Chairman, apparently. There’s a lot of methodical police work, and the author puts it together very well. Be advised that there is also a lot of rather graphic description – the autopsy for instance, and later, when the murderer is revealed and tracked down. This is reading for adults. I’m not a fan of getting into the murderer’s head, but it is included in this book. The book ends with an epilogue, finishing off the story. I enjoyed the investigation, the look into Inspector Lu Fei’s life and the other characters, and the outlining of how the past still underscores the present in modern-day China. Thief of Souls is well-written and fast-paced, a thought-provoking addition to fictional police procedurals.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    Great Story. Conjures up memories of the Bangkok Tattoo series by John Burdett, except this is China instead of Thailand. The reader is immersed both in the murder mystery and also in the Chinese culture-- the customs, taboos and world view add five spices to a story that was already compelling. Hope to see more.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dee Arr

    Twist on the Normal Mystery Plot Interesting, Even with Bumps The premise seemed interesting. Take the everyday murder mystery and transport it to a country that many of us do not understand the inner workings. This will strip away some of the procedures we are accustomed to seeing in the usual mystery and perhaps give insight into how China handles an investigation. I personally have no clue of what a Chinese policeman would do if a murder occurred, who would have to be involved, and so on. Howe Twist on the Normal Mystery Plot Interesting, Even with Bumps The premise seemed interesting. Take the everyday murder mystery and transport it to a country that many of us do not understand the inner workings. This will strip away some of the procedures we are accustomed to seeing in the usual mystery and perhaps give insight into how China handles an investigation. I personally have no clue of what a Chinese policeman would do if a murder occurred, who would have to be involved, and so on. However, the author made it easy to suspend any disbelief with frequent explanations of the workings of Chinese procedures. This is also the book’s double-edged sword. The explanations were presented and slowed down the action, at times when the action needed to be kept at a faster pace. Yet without the explanations, the book will lose some of its allure, presenting a challenge for author Brian Klingbord. On the bright side, I did enjoy the character of Lu Fei as well as some of the minor characters. This book is serving to both tell a story and introduce the characters, and the author has set up an interesting cast that I hope to see in future tales. While there aren’t a lot of twists and I did have the killer on my short list, the big reveal is not an obvious one nor does it strain one’s credibility. If you want a solid mystery with a change of background, “Thief of Souls” might be what you are looking for. Four stars. My thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for a complimentary electronic copy of this book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Connie

    Thief of Souls: An Inspector Lu Fei Mystery By Brian Klingborg Published by Minotaur Books (4 May 2021) “On the night the young woman’s corpse is discovered, hollowed out like a birchbark canoe, Inspector Lu Fei sits alone in the Red Louts bar, determined to get gloriously drunk.” And so begins Thief of Souls. I was immediately taken with this book and with Inspector Lu Fei. He is intelligent, handsome, and sarcastic and wants more than anything to solve the murder of a young woman in Raven Valley Thief of Souls: An Inspector Lu Fei Mystery By Brian Klingborg Published by Minotaur Books (4 May 2021) “On the night the young woman’s corpse is discovered, hollowed out like a birchbark canoe, Inspector Lu Fei sits alone in the Red Louts bar, determined to get gloriously drunk.” And so begins Thief of Souls. I was immediately taken with this book and with Inspector Lu Fei. He is intelligent, handsome, and sarcastic and wants more than anything to solve the murder of a young woman in Raven Valley Township. The murderer is arrested fairly quickly and the crime solved. Or is it? Politics somewhat hinder his investigation, but Inspector Fei is dogged in insisting that the case be fully explored. He has to face danger, tread carefully through a political minefield, and fight an old enemy if he is to find the killer. He is aided by an unlikely friendship and alliance with Deputy Director Song from Beijing. Song comes with political baggage of his own, but is nonetheless willing to aid Inspector Fei, even if the investigation leads to violence. The author explains the Chinese criminal system, comparing offices to their US counterparts for context, which I found interesting and helpful. The narrative had me immersed in the biting cold of a northern China winter near Harbin City. I was there, with Inspector Fei, shivering in the cold. I was in the Red Lotus bar with him as he flirted with the owner and dodged questions from locals about the case. This book was an entertaining, immersive experience with engaging characters and a fascinating setting. I’m hopeful that this is just the first in a series and we will hear more from Inspector Lu Fei. My favorite quotes: “The nail that sticks up gets hammered down” and “A man made of mud fears the rain.” Thanks to NetGalley and Minotaur Books/St. Martin's Press for the free e-copy in exchange for an honest review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Reading Reindeer 2021 On Proxima Centauri

    An engrossing and educational mystery set in contemporary rural China, in a wintry almost unlivable January. Inspector Lu is the deputy chief of police for Raven Valley Township, a quiet position after several years in a small city, smothered under the corruption of his superior. Lu is redeemed by his dedication to poetry, literature, and Daoist classic teachings. When a young woman is brutally murdered in the township, Lu must apply both wisdom and determination to seek out the killer, at great An engrossing and educational mystery set in contemporary rural China, in a wintry almost unlivable January. Inspector Lu is the deputy chief of police for Raven Valley Township, a quiet position after several years in a small city, smothered under the corruption of his superior. Lu is redeemed by his dedication to poetry, literature, and Daoist classic teachings. When a young woman is brutally murdered in the township, Lu must apply both wisdom and determination to seek out the killer, at great personal sacrifice.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Elena Taylor

    "Brian Klingborg’s extensive travel in China and considerable research clearly shows in this police procedural set in a fictional Chinese town. It’s also a solid detective story with engaging characters that transported me to another culture." To read my full review, click the link here: https://www.elenataylorauthor.com/202... "Brian Klingborg’s extensive travel in China and considerable research clearly shows in this police procedural set in a fictional Chinese town. It’s also a solid detective story with engaging characters that transported me to another culture." To read my full review, click the link here: https://www.elenataylorauthor.com/202...

  20. 4 out of 5

    3 no 7

    “Thief of Souls” opens on Saturday, and a quote from Chairman Mao Zedong sets the tone as each new day begins. Readers learn everything they need to know in the first sentence. “On the night the young woman’s corpse is discovered, hollowed out like a birch bark canoe, Inspector Lu Fei sits alone in the Red Lotus bar, determined to get gloriously drunk.” The grammar and present tense construction create a sense of immediate action, of conscious time, of being in the moment evolving along with the “Thief of Souls” opens on Saturday, and a quote from Chairman Mao Zedong sets the tone as each new day begins. Readers learn everything they need to know in the first sentence. “On the night the young woman’s corpse is discovered, hollowed out like a birch bark canoe, Inspector Lu Fei sits alone in the Red Lotus bar, determined to get gloriously drunk.” The grammar and present tense construction create a sense of immediate action, of conscious time, of being in the moment evolving along with the plot. The week and a half that follows are filled with a slow deliberate investigation, increasing in intensity till the frantic dramatic end. It is exceedingly cold in Heilongjiang in January. Chinese citizens regard The Public Security Bureau, the institution of law enforcement in the People’s Republic, as equivalent to a pit of quicksand. However, solving crimes and catching criminals is part of the job, and there has been a murder. This death has very unusual aspects that point to something very sinister, more than just any “ordinary” murder. Her heart is missing. The investigation is organized and methodical with a mixture of traditional procedures and modern technology. As one might expect, there is also some degree of politics involved. However, the rules of investigation are different in China. There is no right to remain silent and a lawyer is not required to present during police questioning. As a result, threats (such as going down to the station to let the sergeant here pry off a few toenails) are used to encourage the “sharing “of information. “Thief of Souls” is compelling and surprising; it provides an insight into the rapidly evolving modern Chinese society. The strategies, people, and atmosphere are all unique; however, the goal is the same as in any crime fiction-- solve the terrible crime. I received a review copy of “Thief of Souls” from Brian Klingborg, St. Martin’s Press, and Minotaur books. This has everything a reader expects in a great mystery – unexplained murders, complex situations, a dedicated investigator, a little light hearted humor, and a surprise ending. As a bonus, it is set in an uncommon location. It is listed as book one in a series, so I cannot wait to find out what adventures await Inspector Lu Fei in the next books

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ria the Wannabe Librarian

    Dnf. I just couldn't find myself enjoying it. A lot of little issues and a lot of dislike for the main character. Love the cover tho. Made it about 120 pages in before setting it down for good. A police procedural where apparently search warrants are thoroughly forgotten/ignored and the suspects aren't granted lawyers until well after the fact. Most of what Li Fei had done would be considered very not by the book. I get this is China but come on. 2.5 ⭐ Dnf. I just couldn't find myself enjoying it. A lot of little issues and a lot of dislike for the main character. Love the cover tho. Made it about 120 pages in before setting it down for good. A police procedural where apparently search warrants are thoroughly forgotten/ignored and the suspects aren't granted lawyers until well after the fact. Most of what Li Fei had done would be considered very not by the book. I get this is China but come on. 2.5 ⭐

  22. 5 out of 5

    Donna Davis

    2+ stars, rounded upward. I was invited to read this mystery, and my thanks go to Net Galley and St. Martin’s Press for the review copy. I am always looking for something a bit different, and this sounded like it would be. And it is, but it’s not. Here’s what I mean. A woman has been murdered in a particularly ugly, grisly manner. A hot shot cop who’s been buried in a backwater where nothing ever happens gets the case. Because he is clever and ambitious, he digs more than most cops might, and vo 2+ stars, rounded upward. I was invited to read this mystery, and my thanks go to Net Galley and St. Martin’s Press for the review copy. I am always looking for something a bit different, and this sounded like it would be. And it is, but it’s not. Here’s what I mean. A woman has been murdered in a particularly ugly, grisly manner. A hot shot cop who’s been buried in a backwater where nothing ever happens gets the case. Because he is clever and ambitious, he digs more than most cops might, and voila! Turns out this could be the work of a serial killer! But there are higher-ups in the force that would rather have a quick solve than an accurate one. Obstacles! And next thing you know, the cop is in danger too. Yawn. Okay. Now, take this same tired thread and drop it in China. With resonant characters, compelling use of setting, and some word smithery, it might come alive, and in the hands of a master storyteller, we might not even notice that the story’s bones are nothing new. Instead, I came away disaffected and mildly depressed. I quit at the sixty percent mark and didn’t even go back to look at the ending, which for me is unheard of, particularly in this genre. I am no fan of the Chinese government, but the steady flow of negativity wore me down, not to mention the lack of strong character development. We know right away that Lu is a rebel, and as the story progresses, we also know that Lu is a rebel. At the start, we sense that the government, both local and national, is corrupt; as we near the climax, we also know that the government is corrupt. What, in this story, is worth saving? I thought it would be fun to see how an investigation works in China, and what sort of rights—or lack thereof—form the contours of the legal system. I came away sensing that the author doesn’t know all that much, either. There’s no Bill of Rights there, surely, but I knew that much going in. I don’t have to have lovable characters to enjoy a mystery, but there does, at least, have to be someone interesting. Give me a complex, well-developed villain, for example, and I’m a happy camper. But there’s none, and I’m not. So there you have it. Thief of Souls is one more sad case of an intriguing book cover and title promising more than it can deliver. If you want this book now, it’s for sale, but I would advise you to get it cheap or free unless you have a big stack of money sitting around that you were thinking of burning in the backyard. Otherwise, maybe not.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sophia

    When a murder happens in a small backwater Chinese town, Deputy Inspector Lu Fei is called in on his night off to begin the investigation. Battling bureaucracy, hidden agendas, and the distinguished investigative team out of Beijing who all want a quick arrest, Lu carefully tracks witnesses and evidence one bit at a time. Thief of Souls intrigued me as soon as I knew it was set in the People's Republic of China in a small town in the north and that the detective was Chinese. I settled into the st When a murder happens in a small backwater Chinese town, Deputy Inspector Lu Fei is called in on his night off to begin the investigation. Battling bureaucracy, hidden agendas, and the distinguished investigative team out of Beijing who all want a quick arrest, Lu carefully tracks witnesses and evidence one bit at a time. Thief of Souls intrigued me as soon as I knew it was set in the People's Republic of China in a small town in the north and that the detective was Chinese. I settled into the story carefully narrated by Lu Fei. He was a world-weary sort and middle-aged. He was trained and had experience in big city police work, but was sent to the boonies because he's a straight arrow and wouldn't stand silently for the corruption of a fellow officer who had clout. He has a fun, dry-humored relationship with his boss and secret crush on Yan-Yan the local bar owner. It was interesting seeing how they did police work in China, but also social customs, family, and more. I thought that was folded into the story so well that there were no info dumps nor was I confused by how something was done or why. As to the mystery, it had me stumped for a bit and then suddenly I knew who it was well before the big reveal. Not that this took away from the book because I was eager to see how they would catch the killer and then there was the suspense when the killer started stalking and captured his next victim and there was a race against time to get the killer before they finished off their victim. As to narration, I was expecting a narrator with a Chinese accent, but then I settled in and really enjoyed my first time listening to PJ Ochlan. He gave distinct personality to the large cast of characters he voiced and I liked his Lu Fei in particular. All in all, it was a great start to the series and I can't wait for more Inspector Lu Fei on the job. Those who enjoy mysteries in an International setting should definitely consider this one. My thanks to Tantor Audio for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tonstant Weader

    Thief of Souls is the first in a new mystery series featuring Inspector Lu Fei. Set in a backwater in contemporary northern China. Lu is a graduate from China’s best police college who could reasonably be expected to be much higher up and closer to the centers of power in Beijing. His assignment to such a small town is a sign that he ruffles feathers. When a woman is murdered in his town, though, it attracts national interest because of the gruesome details. Some of her organs were removed and mo Thief of Souls is the first in a new mystery series featuring Inspector Lu Fei. Set in a backwater in contemporary northern China. Lu is a graduate from China’s best police college who could reasonably be expected to be much higher up and closer to the centers of power in Beijing. His assignment to such a small town is a sign that he ruffles feathers. When a woman is murdered in his town, though, it attracts national interest because of the gruesome details. Some of her organs were removed and money to pay for her expenses in the afterlife was placed in her mouth. Naturally, a group of crime scene technicians, a medical examiner, and a someone officious higher ranked investigator were sent to run the investigation. They are eager to close the case and are thrilled to have a convenient neighbor that they can fit to the crime. Lu is not so sure and his continued investigation trods on more than a few toes. I enjoyed Thief of Souls quite a bit. It was absolutely fair and for that reason, I knew who the murderer was long before Inspector Lu. There should have been a couple more viable suspects just to make it difficult. Of course, as a reader I had an advantage over Inspector Lu with interludes from the killer’s point of view. I really don’t think those interludes are necessary and they quickly made the killer obvious. When they reviewed two other cases, there was a detail that should have been investigated and it was not. I noted it as a reader and was surprised Inspector Lu missed it at first. However, other than that, I enjoyed the book. It is a good procedural that is enhanced by the details about Chinese criminal justice practices. The characters are sufficiently complex, except for a couple oafish cops on the force. There is also a good sense of place, rich in context and social texture. I hope to read more in the series. I received an e-galley of Thief of Souls from the publisher through NetGalley. Thief of Souls at St. Martin’s Press | Macmillan Brian Kingborg on Twitter https://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpre...

  25. 5 out of 5

    Laura plantladyreader

    I have only read a handful of books set in China, and they've mainly been historical fiction. This cozy-like mystery was set in present-day China, and it was such an interesting place to read about. The author really tried to ensure the reader understood the hierarchy of public officials, politicians, the various factions of law enforcement and the judicial system. Inspector Lu Fei seems to be the only police officer who is really interested in discovering who murdered a young girl in a Northern I have only read a handful of books set in China, and they've mainly been historical fiction. This cozy-like mystery was set in present-day China, and it was such an interesting place to read about. The author really tried to ensure the reader understood the hierarchy of public officials, politicians, the various factions of law enforcement and the judicial system. Inspector Lu Fei seems to be the only police officer who is really interested in discovering who murdered a young girl in a Northern Chinese town. With the boyfriend being a convenient suspect, his superiors are content in throwing this kid in jail, and not looking further into what really happened. But when Inspector Fei truly starts looking at the crime, he discovers that this victim may not have been the first, and a serial killer could be walking free. As he investigates further, Inspector Fei realizes he may have caught the eye of the killer, and could be putting his life, and those around him, in danger. Can he stop the killer before he finds another victim? The first third of this book took me a little while to get through, and I wasn't entirely sure if it was going to catch my interest. The author really wanted to ensure the reader understood Chinese society, to the point where there were paragraphs discussing police systems and history, which was interesting but also felt like reading a textbook at times. BUT once these introductory chapters are out of the way, the story really picks up! I found myself being unable to put this book down, because I had to know who was behind these murders and whether they were going to be caught. I did NOT guess who the killer was, which is always refreshing going into a thriller. The story kept at a good pace for the last two-thirds of the book, with enough happening to keep you reading and needing answers. Overall, I definitely recommend picking this one up if you're in the mood for a cozy thriller! 4🌿

  26. 4 out of 5

    chels marieantoinette

    Wow. I REALLY enjoyed Thief of Souls! Klingborg includes so many unique details about Chinese culture- specifically northern, rural China- that I felt like I was constantly learning and absorbing while working out the mystery of Fenfang’s death. Lu is an excellent character- a disgraced inspector, banished to the countryside- he’s passionate, poetic, and loves a drink or two. The rest of the characters were all very interesting as well, and though there were many, Klingborg describes all of them Wow. I REALLY enjoyed Thief of Souls! Klingborg includes so many unique details about Chinese culture- specifically northern, rural China- that I felt like I was constantly learning and absorbing while working out the mystery of Fenfang’s death. Lu is an excellent character- a disgraced inspector, banished to the countryside- he’s passionate, poetic, and loves a drink or two. The rest of the characters were all very interesting as well, and though there were many, Klingborg describes all of them and their unique names so well that I easily kept them apart (not an easy task for someone who reads so many books they all tend to run together). I’m sad this book isn’t getting more traction because it truly is one of my favorites of 2021 so far. I’d definitely recommend it to fans of mysteries, Chinese culture, poetry, and political/police drama. I really hope Klingborg continues this series, because I’d definitely read more.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Susan Oram

    When a woman is found dead and her organs removed in a rural village in Northern China, Inspector Lu looks into the murder and finds old enemies. He wants justice for the victim but is thwarted by enemies and corrupt interests and puts himself in danger. I enjoyed the story with an intriguing plot and interesting setting. A downside: Every ten pages or so, I bumped into what felt like a lecture on Chinese politics and history, taking me out of the story. Thanks to NetGalley for an advance copy i When a woman is found dead and her organs removed in a rural village in Northern China, Inspector Lu looks into the murder and finds old enemies. He wants justice for the victim but is thwarted by enemies and corrupt interests and puts himself in danger. I enjoyed the story with an intriguing plot and interesting setting. A downside: Every ten pages or so, I bumped into what felt like a lecture on Chinese politics and history, taking me out of the story. Thanks to NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kaye

    When readers pick up a mystery, they expect to be entertained. Educated or enlightened? Not so much. Thief of Souls by Brian Klingborg does all three. The story is well-plotted; characters are fully-formed, distinct individuals. What surprised me most (aside from how purely enjoyable a read it was) was the insight the book gave into the Chinese people. I had somehow seen Chinese society as monolithic and conforming. Klingborg (who did post-graduate studies on China and lived there for several yea When readers pick up a mystery, they expect to be entertained. Educated or enlightened? Not so much. Thief of Souls by Brian Klingborg does all three. The story is well-plotted; characters are fully-formed, distinct individuals. What surprised me most (aside from how purely enjoyable a read it was) was the insight the book gave into the Chinese people. I had somehow seen Chinese society as monolithic and conforming. Klingborg (who did post-graduate studies on China and lived there for several years) set my thinking in a new direction. As deputy director of a small police bureau in Northern china, Fu Lei is dealt a gruesome murder to solve. He is a well-educated, well-read man. What I loved most was his sly humor and commentary on the politics rampant in his profession -- and on the culture at large. When Fu's sergeant, Bing, chides him "What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others," Fu asks if he is quoting Confucius. "No," Bing replies. "I thought that was something the Christian god Yesu said." Fu answers: "Hm. Perhaps Yesu was a Confucian?" I thoroughly enjoyed reading this memorable book. Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martins Press for an advance readers copy.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    As someone who reads to expand their cultural or historical understanding, this book did just that for me. It dropped me in contemporary China and introduced me to political and social norms. I loved the police protagonist created by Brian Klingborg. He was imperfect and intriguing . . . quoting poetry and philosophy one minute and violently fighting the next. He was both a romantic and a survivor. A loner and an iconoclast. The style of the police procedural took awhile for me to warm up to, but As someone who reads to expand their cultural or historical understanding, this book did just that for me. It dropped me in contemporary China and introduced me to political and social norms. I loved the police protagonist created by Brian Klingborg. He was imperfect and intriguing . . . quoting poetry and philosophy one minute and violently fighting the next. He was both a romantic and a survivor. A loner and an iconoclast. The style of the police procedural took awhile for me to warm up to, but the main character was so strong he drew me in completely. It was an interesting book, and an entertaining read. NetGalley provided me a complimentary copy in exchange for a candid review.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mallory Lozoya

    I received a digital ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I requested this book because I was intrigued by the setting and I wanted to change up what I was reading a little bit. I really enjoyed this mystery; I learned a bit about Chinese culture, I liked the main character, and the mystery was mysterious enough to keep me guessing for a bit. I would definitely read the second book in the series.

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