When Red is Black by Qiu Xiaolong

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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, Party Secretary Li, but also because he has been made an offer he can’t refuse by Gu, a triad-connected businessman. For what seems to be a fortune—with no apparent strings attached— he is to translate a business proposal for the New World, a complex of shops and restaurants to be built in Central Shanghai, evoking nostalgia for the “glitter and glamour” of the 1930s.

It is up to Detective Yu, Chen’s partner, to take charge of a new case. Yin, a novelist, has been murdered in her room. At first it seems that only a neighbor could have committed the crime, but when one confesses, Yu cannot believe that he is really the killer. As Yu looks further into Yin’s life, ample motives begin to surface, even on the part of Internal Security. But it is only when Inspector Chen steps back into the investigation that the culprit is apprehended. And then Chen discovers how Gu has played him and how he, in turn, can play the new capitalist system.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Qiu Xiaolong

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QIU XIAOLONG is a poet and author of several previous novels featuring Inspector Chen as well as Years of Red Dust, a Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2010.  Born and raised in Shanghai, Xiaolong lives with his family in St. Louis, Missouri.
Published August 1, 2005 by Soho Crime. 319 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Action & Adventure, Horror. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for When Red is Black

Kirkus Reviews

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What Chen knows, Chen really knows—for instance, how to outmaneuver Party Secretary Li and the rest of the brass at the Shanghai Police Bureau, or how to run a first-class homicide investigation, no matter how intricate or sensitive.

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Publishers Weekly

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(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.

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BC Books

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What sets When Red is Black apart is the glimpse the reader gets of the emerging get-rich-quick culture in China, which at times resembles capitalism on steroids.

Apr 27 2011 | Read Full Review of When Red is Black

Bookmarks Magazine

With When Red is Black, Qiu, a Chinese expatriate, publishes his third mystery featuring the poetry-writing Chief Inspector Chen of the Shanghai Police Bureau.

Oct 08 2007 | Read Full Review of When Red is Black


Gu plans to create a type of New World shopping and housing complex with will both preserve the past of Shanghai and transform it into the type of lifestyle experience of the future that will match anything else in the world.

Feb 08 2013 | Read Full Review of When Red is Black

Large Print Reviews

When Red is Black is the third installment in Qiu Xiaolong's exciting Inspector Chen mystery series.

Mar 14 2006 | Read Full Review of When Red is Black

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