Midnight in Peking by Paul French

77%

20 Critic Reviews

A suspenseful murder mystery set on the eve of the Japanese invasion of old Peking in 1937...A well-composed, engaging, lurid tale.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

Winner of the both the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime and the CWA Non-Fiction Dagger

Chronicling an incredible unsolved murder, Midnight in Peking captures the aftermath of the brutal killing of a British schoolgirl in January 1937. The mutilated body of Pamela Werner was found at the base of the Fox Tower, which, according to local superstition, is home to the maliciously seductive fox spirits. As British detective Dennis and Chinese detective Han investigate, the mystery only deepens and, in a city on the verge of invasion, rumor and superstition run rampant. Based on seven years of research by historian and China expert Paul French, this true-crime thriller presents readers with a rare and unique portrait of the last days of colonial Peking.

 

About Paul French

See more books from this Author
PAUL FRENCH lives in Shanghai, where he is a business advisor and analyst. He frequently comments on China for the English-speaking press around the world. French studied history, economics, and Mandarin at university and has an M.Phil. in economics from the University of Glasgow.
 
Published April 24, 2012 by Penguin Books. 272 pages
Genres: Crime, Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on May 13 2012
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Weeks as Bestseller
Bookmark Counts:
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Critic reviews for Midnight in Peking
All: 20 | Positive: 16 | Negative: 4

Kirkus

Above average
on Jan 16 2012

A suspenseful murder mystery set on the eve of the Japanese invasion of old Peking in 1937...A well-composed, engaging, lurid tale.

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Rana Mitter on Jun 08 2012

Paul French's narrative of the investigation is spellbinding...

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Wall Street Journal

Excellent
Reviewed by Fergus Bordewich on Apr 20 2012

Mr. French's account is never less than fascinating, and it is delivered at the unflagging pace of a rickshaw man's fast trot.

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Book Reporter

Excellent
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on Apr 26 2012

Yet MIDNIGHT IN PEKING grabs the reader from the first paragraph and reads with all the suspense and immediacy of a work of fiction.

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The Economist

Excellent
May 19 2012

Not only does Mr French succeed in solving the crime, he resurrects a period that was filled with glitter as well as evil, but was never, as readers will appreciate, known for being dull.

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The Telegraph

Below average
Reviewed by Lilian Pizzichini on May 30 2012

French has an easy-going prose style not best suited to sustaining suspense.

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USA Today

Below average
Reviewed by Charles Finch on May 06 2012

Unfortunately French is a careless writer, prone to cliché and moralizing.

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Open Letters Monthly

Excellent
Reviewed by Steve Donoghue

The only readers who’ll be disappointed with it are the poor saps whose books have to measure up to its example in this Hardcover Originals line.

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Denver Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Joseph Kanon on Jun 17 2012

This is a good murder story, well told, with all the additional pleasures that a knowledgeable tour guide to old China can provide.

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Seattle PI

Excellent
Reviewed by Jack Goodstein on Apr 12 2012

t is a very convincing analysis, and provides a very satisfying conclusion to the story, a story that reads with all the tension of a fictional thriller.

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Time Magazine

Excellent
Reviewed by Austin Ramzy on Apr 30 2012

The resulting work is a deeply engrossing tale that offers fresh insights into pre-war Peking and a measure of justice for a young woman whose life was cut tragically short.

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Neworld Review

Excellent
Reviewed by Andrea Janov

The murder hooks you, the investigations and cover ups string you along, and the revelations about the police, culture, and diplomatic relations of that time educate you.

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Booking Mama

Good
Reviewed by Julie on Jun 10 2012

...French also provides a portrait of Peking in an exciting and tumultuous time.

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Meaghan Walsh Gerard

Good
Reviewed by Meaghan Gerard on Apr 23 2012

And though his research is diligent, there is nothing dry about this book.

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Pudgy Penguin Perusals

Below average
Reviewed by Kaye on Apr 23 2012

This type of third person narration with no dialogue occasionally makes for dry reading.

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A Garden Carried in the Pocket

Below average
Reviewed by Jenclair on Jun 14 2012

The story, the villains, the collusions and deceptions, even the characters are almost more fantastic than fiction.

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AustCrimeFiction

Good
Reviewed by Karen Chisholm on Jul 11 2012

MIDNIGHT IN PEKING is really a very fascinating book...

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Aunt Agatha's

Good
Reviewed by trow125 on Jun 03 2012

It’s a heartbreaking tale, and a rich portrait of a very specific, very tragic time. This is a beautifully done and intelligent book.

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Word Up Nerd Up

Good
May 15 2012

Paul French does an excellent job of laying out a very complicated story in an interesting and understandable way.

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BookBound

Good
Reviewed by Myckyee

Without giving anything away, I can safely say that Midnight in Peking is a fascinating look at what can happen when diplomacy wins over justice…and when it does not.

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Reader Rating for Midnight in Peking
77%

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