Red Mandarin Dress
St. Martin’s, Nov 27 2007, $24.95
Shanghai Chief Inspector Chen Cao handles the most sensitive political cases and the most traumatic to the public. Currently he is on a rare leave of absence attending an advanced literature class so his ambitious but insipid subordinate Detective Yu is in charge; Yu sees this as a chance to prove his superiority over his boss to those in charge.
However, Yu’s desires mean nothing to the Shanghai People's Congress, who demand Chen personally investigate a politically charged corruption involving a housing project. Additionally the city is terrorized by the first known serial killer, who poses his victims in red mandarin dresses. Chen leads the two inquires as Yu seethes and soon connects the cases, but not before a sting operation leads to one of his police officers killed wearing the red mandarin dress. The investigation has turned personal.
This terrific Communist China police procedural, likes its four predecessors (see DEATH OF A RED HEROINE, A LOYAL CHARACTER DANCER, WHEN RED IS BLACK and A CASE OF TWO CITIES), provides fans with a deep look at a society in transition. The serial killer investigation and the corruption inquiry showcase how careful a cop must be in solving crimes in a strict dictatorial society. Chen is fabulous as he puts his studies on the back burner to work the cases, but especially when he realize Officer Hong is one of the dead. However, it is Qiu Xiaolong’s powerful glimpse of Shanghai dancing with capitalistic globalization yet remaining communist that makes this a winner.