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Red Mandarin Dress (Inspector Chen Cao #5)
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Red Mandarin Dress (Inspector Chen Cao #5)

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  876 ratings  ·  101 reviews
Chief Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Department is often put in charge ofpolitically sensitivecases.Having recentlyruffled more than a few official feathers, when he is asked to look into a sensitive corruption case he takes immediate action - he goes on leavefrom work. But while on vacation, the body of a murdered young woman is found in a highly trafficked are ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published November 27th 2007 by Minotaur Books (first published 2007)
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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa SeeThe Good Earth by Pearl S. BuckThe Joy Luck Club by Amy TanShanghai Girls by Lisa SeeThe Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan
Best Novels That Take Place in China
54th out of 283 books — 780 voters
Dragon Bones by Lisa SeeDeath of a Red Heroine by Qiu XiaolongRed Mandarin Dress by Qiu XiaolongFlower Net by Lisa SeeThe Girl with Ghost Eyes by M.H. Boroson
Asian mystery
3rd out of 158 books — 42 voters

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Community Reviews

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I'm becoming softer with age. My initial reaction when I started reading this book was: What is this shit??
First of all it was a thriller and NOTHING happened. Xiaolong went on instead about the main character's Literature Paper. IN DETAIL. Eventually Chinese literature archetypes were linked to the murder case, and geez, wasn't that far-fetched. Trying to find the murderer by studying're not Umberto Eco, you know.
Now, you think if the author is so literature literate, the book
Written in the 1990s, this Chinese murder mystery is a fascinating read. Besides the plot (which is pretty good), it is a wealth (a WEALTH, I say) of enthralling tidbits about Chinese culture, dress, poetry, food, literature, psychology, and politics/economics. [It was a great counterpart to Wild Swans actually, because it chronologically picks up right where that book lets off.] The main character is both a brilliant detective and a soon-to-be student of Chinese literature, so he simultaneously ...more
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)

Ahhhhhh...that's better.

After my disappointment in A Case of Two Cities, it was with some trepidation that I picked up another Chen Cao story. However I'm pleased to say that the Inspector is back on form--or is he? He's taken another vacation, this time to write a literature paper with a vague idea of taking an MA in literature and furthering his interrupted scholarly career. Again, he seems to be having second thoughts about his work--but second thoughts often lead to second thoughts of their
This is an interesting story of more than just a serial killer. It gives a feeling of how China was back in the 1960s and how it has emerged as a more westernized society while still keeping to the socialist system of government. It shows that the human psychology is not very different regardless of region. It is a good read and there are few "Confucious says" remarks that really make you think.
Empecé a leerlo sin mucha expectativa, y resultó ser mucho mejor de lo que esperaba!
La historia transcurre en Shanghai en los años 90, en plena reforma económica y apertura a empresas occidentales. En este marco, una serie de crímenes ocurre y pronto queda claro que la policía se enfrenta a un asesino serial.
El inspector Chen debe entonces balancear la investigación del caso con el curso de literatura china al que asiste paralelamente a su trabajo policial.
No sólo la investigación y resolución
On a cold morning late in the year the body of a young woman has been found on the safety island in the middle of a busy Shanghai road. Worker Master Huang sees her first as he jogs in the early morning. His mind had been occupied by the changes around him, particularly the substitution of a Starbucks for a former Worker and Farmer eatery where the food was cheap and tasty intended for the working class. Now the vistas are filled with mansions owned by what are known as the Big Bucks, the new we ...more
3.5 stars.

This is the most fascinating of the Inspector Chen novels yet - a serial killer's actions in Shanghai providing the backdrop for larger cultural conversations about misogyny, story telling, poetry, and Freud. I'm still thinking over the ramifications of everything in this story - my discomfort at the number of victimized women in the novel, for example, exists in tension with the novel's own interrogation of how Chinese cultural tropes hold women responsible for the problems and downfa
Hmm. Forgot to write a review. Overall liked it, was much more philosophical and literary (references) than his other ones, and greatly enjoyed it for that reason. But I suspect for people looking for something just like Death of a Red Heroine, they might be a little frustrated.

But here are two things that struck me, before I send this book:

This was an excellent example of nudge architecture; Xi Yun, when I cited it, was astounded—he hadn't been aware of the reason for this practice, and thought
Lee Barckmann
An old man, soon to be pushed out of his old familiar Shanghai dwelling by high rising, expensive apartments finds a young woman's body, her legs askew, barefoot, without underwear, clad only in a torn red Mandarin dress, (qipao). This opening scene of the Inspector Chen crime novel 'Red Mandarin Dress', illustrates the theme of the old and new China colliding with painful consequences. The Mandarin dress is a perfect vehicle of this clash, as it was once a symbol of elegance in the China before ...more
Marthe Bijman
Inspector Chen, hero of Qiu Xiaolong’s novel, has a weak stomach. He does not like the odd delicacies offered at receptions and traditional Chinese restaurants, such as live boiled turtle soup and live braised monkey’s brain. However, to trap his suspect into a confession, he sets up a horrible banquet with “cruel food”, dishes to make even the greatest gourmand squirm. He toys with the suspect, stage-managing the scene, and finally revealing the strange and shocking truth.

Huw Evans
I fell in love with Shanghai in 2005, where western pyjamas are cool street fashion. I am not a detective story aficionado but familiarity with the environment makes the story more interesting. Also Inspector Chen is not only a maverick but a maverick versed in Chinese literature, allowing Qiu Xiaolong to refer to ancient texts and poems in a way that illuminates the case. Qiu highlights the conflicts between the old China of the emperors, the newer China of the Maoism and the newest China of st ...more
Mel Belstein
Lo encontre al azar en la biblioteca. No conocía al autor y me llamó la atención por que no es tan común ver libros policiales de autores chinos. El libro esta bueno, me gustó como esta escrito y el hecho de transcurrir en China es algo novedoso (novedoso para mi al menos que suelo leer novelas policiales que transcurren en USA, Gran Bretaña, Argentina o Suecia). Le doy solo tres estrellas porque la identidad del asesino es clara para el lector cuando aún falta un 25% del libro y eso le restó in ...more
Jul 05, 2013 Karim added it
The Inspector Chen series falls prey to formula. As much as I loved the novelty of Loyal Character Dance, Qiu has fallen victim to cliche in this series, and the often-confusing political structure and terminology of Chinese Communism plays a large role. One of the primary characters in the story was a Mao Zedong Revolutionary Thought Propaganda Worker Team Member. This utterly confusing mouthful is brought up repeatedly throughout the text, alongside similarly narrative-breaking terms. Similarl ...more
Mary Buckham
Fascinating read but I could not feel comfortable giving it a 5 star rating because as a mystery it fell short. The series protagonist was off scene a lot, focusing on returning to school and involved in writing a paper on an element of Chinese poetry. That was interesting but made the mystery secondary to a lot of references to Chinese poetry through the ages. Then the protagonist kept feeling stressed and had to escape the pressures of studying Chinese poetry and talking to his law enforcement ...more
Es una novela policiaca en la cual su autor Qiu Xiaolong presenta al inspector Chen Cao, investigador, estudiante de literatura y poeta resolviendo dos casos relacionados: un escándalo de la construcción de nuevos bloques habitacionales sobre antiguas casas de trabajadores y los asesinatos de jóvenes mujeres vestidas con quipaos de seda roja (vestidos de seda tipo mandarín). La novela se desarrolla en el contexto de una China actual, en donde conviven 2 sistemas: el comunista, al que el autor de ...more
This book was great - I ended up picking it up and reading it only to find out half way through that it was the fourth book in the series. I finished reading it and loved it! The mystery was set up so well and the little clues here and there was amazing. I was totally hooked on who the killer was and why. I finised it up in no time - it was an easy read and definatly awesome!
May 31, 2008 Jim rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: mystery
The language is almost unbearable and the mystery part is incredibly clunky, but the background about the Cultural Revolution and the information about sexual attraction, marriage, Confucianism, and Maoism are interesting. Interesting enough to make this book worth reading? I'd say, almost.
This book didn't really hold my interest and I tried. It's sort of a mix between the red mandarin dress murders of which I wanted to read more off and interspered with other Chinese stories which just dragged the whole story down.
Di seta e di sangue" del cinese Qiu Xiaolong si presenta come un giallo ma in realtà il romanzo permette di conoscere la storia della Cina grazie ai continui riferimenti alle epoche passate, a Confucio e i rimandi al periodo della Rivoluzione Culturale. Inoltre, attraverso la storia del protagonista, l'ispettore Chen Cao, l'autore riesce a farci un quadro ben illustrato della Cina (urbana e rurale) con tutte le sue trasformazioni sociali e culturali. Si legge benissimo; una pagina tira l'altra. ...more
I read about half the book. Just could not get into it.
Jesus Flores
Vestido Seda
So a woman in a Qipao is found dead, then a week later a second one, and they decide to assign Inspector Chen Cao unit to help the murder unit to catch this possible serial killer. Problem is Cen Cao is on leave because he is planning to study literature, and also at te time one of his high contacts ask him to investigate some lawyer that participates on a trial about buildings and corruption. So it is his second in command Yu who has to investigate the 2 murders while dealing with t
This was another excellent book in the Inspector Chen series. There were all the elements that have made the other books so enjoyable including: the poetry that has interesting levels of complexity that resonate of historical significance; the food of the working person's China; the team effort of all parties including Peiqin(Inspector Yu's wife); the subtle relationships that seem necessary to 'get things done' in China; and the careful piecing together of the clues to solve the murders that fo ...more
This was the first Inspector Chen series book I've ever read. As thrillers, detectives and mysteries are my favorite genres, I'm always in the lookout for the next Harry Bosch or Salvo Montalbano. I've tried authors that I didn't really like (Harlan Coben was just bad enough to finish one book, never to touch a second one), and while this isn't exactly a Chinese version of Montalbano, I did quite like it.

Chen investigates a serial murder in Shanghai. The victims are young service industry girls,
The first victim, Jasmine, is found wearing an old mandarin dress from the 1940s - long sleeves, low slits, double-fish-shaped cloth buttons, the kind of craftsmanship not used since the 1960s Cultural Revolution when the mandarin dress was forbidden. Another woman is found dead in the same attire, leading to speculation that a serial killer is responsible.

This search is interwoven with Chen's desire to escape his work by doing a university course; his project focuses on themes of ambivalence to
Clara Mazzi
Secondo - e ultimo giallo - di Qiu Xiaolong. Preso per sbaglio, sull'onda dell'entusiasmo del quarto di copertina e per il fatto di leggere un autore che mi avrebbe portata ancora una volta in Cina, ma subito pentitissima dopo aver letto "Ratti rossi". Ballandomi da un anno sul comodino mi pareva comunque brutto non leggerlo e così, con una certa riluttanza l'ho preso tra le mani. Riluttanza che è stata ben presto confermata. Sebbene "Di seta e di sangue" sia decisamente meglio dell'altro, tutta ...more
A little above average for this series. Inspector Chen has a mid-life, mid-career, conscience crisis. Caught in between a financial scandal investigation that he doesn't want to investigate and a series of murder dubbed the "first" serial killer of Shanghai, Chen breaks down and hides behind the pretext of going back to academia. Yu is left holding the bag and to deal with the police politics. But Chen can't seem to hide from reality and is dragged back into investigating both cases. I liked the ...more
This may be the best so far in the Inspector Chen Cao series. Shanghai’s first acknowledged serial killer dresses his victims in red mandarin dresses before leaving them in public places. Chen, suffering from the effects of too much stress, has taken time off from his police job to pursue an advanced literature course instead of investigating a politically sensitive corruption case. When it is clear that the killer has a timetable, however, he joins the race to prevent the next murder, applying ...more
Danielle Morency
This was the first Chen Cao book I read, and it remains a favorite. The average American doesn't know much of China, and Qiu is able to reveal what Modern Chinese culture is like, and some potential fears of the remnants of its recent jump from Communistic rule. Peppered throughout are quotes of poetry and sayings that illustrate the underlying beauty in everyday life, however mundane or dangerous.
I love the Inspector's character; a student of classical literature, who reluctantly has a career in law enforcement. Though he despises the bureaucracy and his intimate knowledge of the seedier aspects of life, he's good at his job. He uses pyschology and tries to understand the motivations of the criminal mind to find his killer.
Barbara ★
Inspector Chen is supposed to be on vacation while he takes a literature course at the college. Unfortunately, with the red mandarin dress serial killer on the loose, he is interrupted with calls from the police telling him they know nothing. This gripping (haha) mystery is filled with literary references, poems and Confusius sayings. There is way too much emphasis on Inspector Chen's research for his paper and how the symbolism of it gives clues to the killer.

It found it boring as too much of C
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Qiu Xiaolong (裘小龙) was born in Shanghai, China. He is the author of the award-winning Inspector Chen series of mystery novels, Death of a Red Heroine (2000), A Loyal Character Dancer (2002), When Red Is Black (2004), A Case of Two Cities (2006), Red Mandarin Dress (2007), and The Mao Case (2009). He is also the author of two books of poetry translations, Treasury of Chinese Love Poems (2003) and E ...more
More about Qiu Xiaolong...

Other Books in the Series

Inspector Chen Cao (9 books)
  • Death of a Red Heroine (Inspector Chen Cao #1)
  • A Loyal Character Dancer (Inspector Chen Cao #2)
  • When Red Is Black (Inspector Chen Cao #3)
  • A Case of Two Cities (Inspector Chen Cao #4)
  • The Mao Case (Inspector Chen Cao #6)
  • Don't Cry, Tai Lake (Inspector Chen Cao #7)
  • Enigma of China (Inspector Chen Cao #8)
  • Shanghai Redemption

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“«Una mujer se embellece para el hombre que sabe apreciarla».” 0 likes
“Para Shen, un vestido no era un mero trozo de tela, sino una imagen llena de significados y de asociaciones.” 0 likes
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