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A Drop of Chinese Blood (Inspector O #5)

3.40  ·  Rating Details  ·  154 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
James Church's Inspector O novels have been hailed as "crackling good" (The Washington Post) and "tremendously clever" (Tampa Tribune), while Church himself has been embraced by critics as "the equal of le Carré" (Publishers Weekly, starred). Now Church—a former Western intelligence officer who pulls back the curtain on the hidden world of North Korea in a way that no one ...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published November 13th 2012 by Minotaur Books (first published April 10th 2012)
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(showing 1-30 of 325)
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Bizarre and bewildering as usual. Unlike most mysteries in which you know what the mystery is, such is not the case in the Inspector O mysteries. The reader reads on just hoping to fathom what is happening and as usual even when there is an explanation at the end it's still inexplicable. You are never sure what exactly happened. There are always loose ends. This one starts off with O living in exile in China on the NK border. He resides with his nephew who is Chinese and works for State Security ...more
Jan 03, 2013 Monica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Inspector O has left the People's Republic of Korea and is living just across the border, in the Chinese backwater town Yanji City. His nephew Bing is the Chief of the Chinese Ministry of State Security for the area. The atmosphere is equal parts Kafka and Alice in Wonderland and the job brings Bing a new opportunity to fail, or to displease his masters in Beijing (whoever they are) several times a day.

Bing and O, who is concentrating on his woodworking, have an uneasy truce, a prickly working r
Feb 22, 2013 Tuck rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noir
this is my fifth james church mystery/north korean operatvie book, and unfortunately probably last. while the other four taking place in north korea had a forboding sense of darkness and dispair in the land of "don't ask", this takes place in china, albeit right across the border from tumen, and revovles around inspetor O's nephew, and yes there is a mystery, and yes there is a twist or 5, but the light-hearted, ah shucks capitalism of red chinese, while probably well rendered, left me cold. no ...more
Feb 16, 2013 Xander rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The intriguing Inspector O now resides in a Jilin border town with his nephew Bing, an officer with China's Ministry of State Security. Bing and O chase a mystery ranging from northeastern China, the grasslands of Mongolia and 'across the river' in North Korea. The not always obvious plot is drawn out through a sometimes lengthy narrative of conjecture dialogue.

I'm not sure I would have enjoyed this as much without the context of the previous O books. But while the previous O books served as an
Jan 10, 2013 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: murder-mystery
In this Inspector O volume, the fifth, we have a new narrator - Major Bing, O's nephew, who is part Korean but also has at least 'a drop of Chinese blood.' The story is the usual crazy confetti of characters with unclear affiliation executing political machination across the borders of both Koreas, Russia, and China, and encountering skulduggery of all kinds. But it is the relationship between Bing and O that stars here: the nephew, an employee of Chinese State Security and himself no slouch as ...more
Feb 11, 2014 adcash rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
I have read all of the books in this series. This time we're following a new main character, the nephew of Inspector O who was the focus of the previous books in the series. & I find that I really enjoyed this book more than the others because of the new narrative. I still found myself feeling slow and lost with some of the twists but I've learned that's just the style of these books & I just keep going with it. Looking forward to more books with Inspector O from the nephew's perspective ...more
Jason Brezinski
This one bummed me out.
The first 2/3s is tremendous. Church turns the series on its head with making someone else the POV character and having O be an observed character. I thought that was a great change and completely changed the dynamic of the book.
I also greatly enjoyed the setting: the China/North Korean border. That's an area that's fascinated me for a while. I recommend the two South Korean crime thriller movies: The Yellow Sea and New World deal with this area with great style.
The l
Mar 12, 2013 Katharine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have enjoyed all of "James Church"s books about Inspector O and this one did not disappoint. The slightly cryptic style suits the inscrutability of the North Korean subject, and the trek to Mongolia was also of interest. The border between North Korea and China sounds like a place like no other, which is born out by its description in "Escape from Camp 14", which is must reading for anyone who likes Inspector O.
Zeb Kantrowitz
Having read Church’s four prior books starring Inspector O of North Korea’s Ministry of State Security, I was ready for an ‘odd’ story. What I wasn’t ready for was a Moliere farce translated from French to German by Kafka, and then into English by Jasper Fforde. His last two books have been Zen style mysteries that remind me of the works of Janwillem van de Wetering. Keeping all this in mind, I endeavored to understand this novel. Well, I didn’t.

The whole book dancers around a fake South Korean
Mar 12, 2014 Miwa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a continuation of the Inspector O series, except that the protagonist is now Inspector O's nephew. After being chased out of North Korea, Inspector O is now living with his nephew who is in the State Security Ministry, in charge of the security for the region near the Chinese-North Korean border.

The plot is a bit convoluted - to the point where I admit I read the book twice in a row to figure out what I had missed the first time.

It is still an enjoyable read with amusing dialogues betwe
David Smith
Very well written, but no chance for the reader to anticipate where the plot was going, or prospective solutions to the mystery. I thought there was way too much back and forth between Major Bing and Inspector O, and found their ceaseless banter somewhat tedious. Some setting narrative might have been good too. Yanji and Ulan Bator are large vital cities, not under-developed towns, which is the impression given. But, that's just me. The perspectives on Chinese/Korean/Mongolian political relation ...more
John Brooke
I really enjoyed the Inspector O series (4 books) and was disappointed when it appeared to end a few years ago. Set within the byzantine police structures of the North Korean dictatorship, there was a muted beauty and constant murky intrigue to these stories featuring O, a cop high enough to know the games that stoke the system, but contrary enough to never be a self-serving Party insider.

James Church is a pseudonym for a writer with experience in the US Asian bureau intelligence trade. He make
I've got to admit this one was a disappointment. I thought the plot just never really came together on its own, requiring long-winded exposition by the characters to tie it all together. I didn't pick up a very good sense of atmosphere (certainly not the grimy darkness evoked by the term "noir" so liberally applied to this novel). I never got a very good feel for Major Bing. I did think the dialog between Bing and his Uncle was quite good, but it wasn't enough to save the book for me. I found I ...more
Apr 25, 2014 james rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't like this as much as some of the other Inspector O books. This one featured his nephew, apoliceman in China, near the North Korean border. Still, it kept my attention.
Charles Kerns
Jul 12, 2014 Charles Kerns rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, 20th-century
They say Church gives a nuanced view of life in Korea. Instead, he gives a family farce.
I definitely had to read some lines twice, because the figurative language and implications made it almost too winding to be enjoyable. As someone who has skipped around the Inspector O novels, maybe I am missing some things, although the other reviews have led me to believe that I am not the only one who feels this way. I like intrigue - however, nothing comes together until the end and it simply isn't compelling enough throughout to make you hurry and desire to read the end. All in all, averag ...more
Jan 08, 2013 Bonnie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
James Church, a pseudonym, for a Western Intellegence officer, adds a new character to his Inspector O series. His nephew, Major Bing, is the chief of the Chinese Ministry of State Security operations on the border with North Korea. When the most beautiful woman in China, Madam Fang, appears on Bing's doorstep , he becomes involved in intrigue as she vanishes into North Korea. Concerned for his nephew's saftey, O steps in to help Bing bring back to China a missing Chinese security official.
Margaret Dee
Inspector O has retired to China. He now lives with his nephew an investigator on the boarder in China. The story is confusing, Inspector O reminds me of Sherlock Homes knowing things the rest of us don't know. The insights into North Korea especially at this time is what makes this an interesting read.
Mar 25, 2013 Walt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
it follows the previous books and adds touches of humor that I find intriguing. I hope we will find more books from this author. His style of writing has been refreshing and one hopes that though it is fiction, it gives us somewhat of a view from the other side.
Dec 30, 2012 Kathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Everybody's keeping secrets on the Chinese border with North Korea, and Major Bing is barely keeping things together because he is unexpectedly honest. In keeping with the theme, not all loose ends are tied up at the end, kind of like Carre
Aug 14, 2013 Ed rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Inspector O, officially retired but assumed (correctly) by everyone to still be active with the North Korean police, has moved in with his nephew, a mid-level official with the PRC border security service just across the border in China.
May 26, 2013 Hei rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A different story. It's not action packed and at time slow but good. The writing style has a Asian flair and is quite different from most Western novels. Personally, it seems a fusion of mystery and slice-of-life genres.
Adam  McPhee
Liked the part set in Mongolia and the beginning where Bing is stationed in a dusty Chinese border town. Like a modern, asian western. James Church needs to get cracking on a new novel.
Mar 23, 2013 Sharon marked it as started-but-did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
Attempted to start reading this book twice, but just wasn't interested enough to read past the first few chapters. Can't say I say I didn't try - better luck next time.
Dec 22, 2012 Larry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The series moves away from Kafka and toward Groucho Marx. It's funny on occasion, but that isn't what made the first four books so interesting.
Feb 07, 2013 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's been a long time since I've read a spy story. This one is written by an actual spy stationed in N Korea and China.
Bill Sloyer
Mar 12, 2013 Bill Sloyer rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Couldn't finish it. Thought at first it was Nero Wolf like but it turned out to read like a book written by a finicky old ma.
Rich Uncle Pennybags
Weaker than the Inspector O books, but fun enough. Anyway if you liked the previous four you'll probably like this too.
Feb 01, 2013 Janet rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not my fav. But well done. Got tired of the first person narrative.
Richard Lee
Jan 02, 2016 Richard Lee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
brilliant & enjoyable but probably because of my particular interests
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James Church is the pseudonym of the author of four detective novels featuring a North Korean policeman, "Inspector O".Church is identified on the back cover of his novels as "a former Western intelligence officer with decades of experience in Asia". He grew up in the San Fernando Valley in the United States and was over 60 years old in 2009.His "Inspector O" novels have been well-received, being ...more
More about James Church...

Other Books in the Series

Inspector O (5 books)
  • A Corpse in the Koryo (Inspector O, #1)
  • Hidden Moon (Inspector O, #2)
  • Bamboo and Blood (Inspector O, #3)
  • The Man with the Baltic Stare (Inspector O, #4)

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