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Enigma of China (Inspector Chen Cao #8)

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  344 ratings  ·  75 reviews
Chief Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Department is in an unusual situation—a poet by training and inclination, he was assigned by the party to the Police Department after he graduated college, where he has continued to shine. Now he’s a rising cadre in the party, in line to take over the top politic position in the police department, while being one of most resp ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published June 17th 2014 by Minotaur Books (first published 2012)
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(showing 1-30 of 629)
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Booknblues
Enigma of China
by Qiu Xiaolong
4 stars
pp. 277

What I love about reading Qiu Xiaolong's Chief Inspector Chen series is the way Xiaolong immerses the reader in the setting of Shanghai, China and his eighth most current mystery, Enigma of China is no exception. It has been interesting for the reader to followi the changes in China through the eyes of Inspector Chen. Here we see China, a country with socialism with Chinese characteristics, which has grown progressively more materialistic and in the ca
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Caroline
The three stars are for the writing, which is pedestrian for the most part. The main problem is the same as for Donna Leon: they both need to convey a lot of background information about a different culture, and they choose to do a lot of that education via clunky question and answer dialogues in which the detective asks friends about current trends that he ought to know about already. But I keep reading Inspector Chen Cao mysteries because they are an enjoyable way to learn something about Chin ...more
Bobby D
This is the latest and 8th book in the Inspector Chen series. I have read each in order and all my reviews are posted on Amazon.com. What drew me to the series was the unique time and setting in Shanghai, China as the country emerges with its new blended capitalism.
Although I have enjoyed the series none of the books have captured the quality of the first book, “Death of a Chinese Heroine”. The characters mostly carry forward from that book and have been underdeveloped as the series progresses
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Kathleen
Best yet in great series I'm a big fan of the Chief Inspector Chen Cao series. All of the books give a fascinating picture of present-day China, and just as China has changed over the years, so have the plots of the mysteries and Chen Cao himself. Before I read this latest book, I was skeptical of the claim in Publishers Weekly that the series "has gotten stronger with age," because I hadn't actually found that to be true of the previous book, Don't Cry for Me, Tai Lake. But in this novel, Chen ...more
Paul DiBara
QX's Inspector Chen is quintessentially Chinese. Patently obvious as that may seem Chen, the poet / police officer embodies spiritual and material aspects that reflect the modern turmoil of contemporary China. Conflicting values posturing for dominance over the Chinese psyche.

While not anti-materialistic, the soul of the inspector is committed to justice and fairness. With each volume I see a further maturing of the character of Chen. Up to this point he has managed to balance his basic ethics w
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Arwy
I loved this book. It's full of references to classic Chinese literature, like the Dream of Red Mansions, which is L.'s and my favourite book. It's a great detective story set in modern Shanghai. I've asked L. Wenhui newspaper and "shanggui" do exist in modern China. I'm sure if he read it, he would recognize the streets and places, maybe even the people. But the most charming part for me was not svn a compelling detective story set in modern China. Most charming part for me was the storytelling ...more
Susan
With Enigma of China as in Don't Cry, Tai Lake Qiu goes beyond the damage caused by the Cultural Revolution as he uncovers basic flaws in the fabric of life in China during the boom. Here, the enigma is simply that everything comes down to influence, while the cause for weeping into Tai Lake is the policy that economic growth trumps environmental concerns. In both books, Chen finds attractive women who do not fit into his career arc. Although both mysteries are formulaic, one learns quite a bit ...more
Dan Downing
One wonders, what with China's size, how deeply change penetrates. In a single long lifetime the country has changed beyond reckoning. There are a few---very few, I grant---alive from the time of the Qing Dynasty, who witnessed the Republic of China, the Japanese occupation, the Revolution of 1947, The Great Leap Forward (into the pit of death) and the Cultural Revolution, followed by the fractured China of today: a vast country searching for a way to uphold principle and increase the standard o ...more
April
Another wonderful novel by Qui Xiaolong. It's part of the Inspector Chen mystery series, but also so much more. Chen is both a poet and a policeman, who holds a moderately high position in the Party. He is constantly struggling to reconcile his desire for justice, kindness, and honor with the rampant corruption he sees in his day-to-day job. Because he is a good policeman and because he has the protection of some major Party members, he has been able to survive so far.

In this particular book, X
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Mircalla64 (free Liu Xiaobo)
in questo mondo di "Polvere Rossa"


Chen Cao membro del Partito e ispettore del Dipartimento di Polizia di Shanghai sezione "casi sensibili" è coinvolto ancora una volta in un insabbiamento, che è pressappoco la sua funzione all'interno del Dipartimento dal momento che dietro i titoli e il prestigio non c'è altro che il solito servo dell'Imperatore...nell'ottica di un aggiornamento delle tematiche qua il reato è stato commesso all'interno di una "ricerca di carne umana" che è il modo colorito con
...more
Sallyann
As my first venture into Inspector Chen Cao's world of contemporary Shanghai policing, I read with fascination about wide-spread government corruption, totalitarian internet control, Confucian philosophy, medieval Chinese poetry, and the enormous hypocrisy of the Chinese government in their futile attempts to control citizens who look to cyberspace in a feeble effort to exercise freedom of speech.

Not a great work of literature or even a great mystery, but the sheer bravado of the author in criti
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Shuriu
Another characteristic of China's socialism was its reliance on shuanggui, a sort of extralegal detention by the Party disciplinary bodies. The practice began as a response to the uncontrollable corruption of the one-party system. Initially, the word meant "two specifics:" a Party official implicated in a criminal or corruption probe would be detained in a specific (gui) place and for a specific (gui) period of time. The Chinese constitution stipulated that all forms of detention had to be autho ...more
Margaret Kalvar
A classic Inspector Chen mystery- I think of him as the Chinese Adam Dagliesh, although I think his conflicts are even more stark, given the corruption and party politics within the Chinese bureaucracy---- he does well and the stakes get higher. This book is especially timely, with the anti-corruption campaign the background. Some of the standard favorite sidekicks- Yu and Pequin- are there, and a new female interest, a journalist with whom Chen seems to be developing a rather ambiguous relation ...more
Frank
Read this as a library ebook, which meant it got to the head of the queue because of due date. Almost a formula Inspector Chen - food descriptions, the intrepid and forceful female character, the detailed descriptions of the setting, maybe more poetry than most. I enjoy all that. Is this a spoiler? I was reading on the subway, got to the end, and it appeared that the book just stopped, without resolving the mystery and without Chen giving his love interest the inevitable brush off. That's why it ...more
Steve Watson
I love this series! Inspector Chen is back at work in Shanghai, quoting classical Chinese poetry, eating fine food, wooing a gal he'll never be together with, solving crime, and this time, exposing corruption in the upper echelons of the Communist party, with the help of China's netizens - citizens crowd-sourcing the fight for free speech and against corruption in contemporary urban China.

I've read just a little Bond, but with Chen, we have tea and coffee instead of cocktails, we have romance wi
...more
David
Not sure this is really a 5 star book, but I have loved this quirky series and loved this one too, perhaps the best.

This is the 8th book in the Inspector Chen series, a police procedural set in recent/contemporary Shanghai. Inspector Chen is a poet, epicure and detective and the books paint a very rich portrait of life in contemporary Shanghai as a mid-level Cadre. Blending history, literature, food porn, and a clever mystery, they are good fun. Quirky, even nerdy, but would recommend to anyone
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Marilyn
Although I have enjoyed these books, this one seemed less interesting to me. Perhaps it is because it added nothing to the character and repeated the same old concerns about the difficulties of an ethical policeman in a corrupt system. However, Inspector Chen usually can circumvent his situation to maneuver the difficult pathway to justice. In this novel, he seemed to just wallow and give up. I had hopes and glimpses for his resurrection only to have them dashed again and again. Is Chen tired or ...more
ZaBeth  Marsh
It is timely that as i write, the protesters are blocking the streets of Hong Kong (http://bbc.in/1yxsWmE) and demanding more control from Beijing. The very premise of Xiaolong's book Enigma of China is a government determined - no matter the cost - to keep harmony in a country that is increasingly dissatisfied with its government.

This is the first Inspector Chen novel I have read but it is the eighth book in the series. I was surprised that it didn't feel like I was coming late to the table eve
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Tom
I picked up this book after reading a profile of its author: Qiu Xiaolong is a Chinese expat who writes detective novels in English. While people who speak a second language fluently are common, people who write novels in a second language are virtually unheard of. That Xiaolong has constructed an ongoing series is astounding.

"Enigma of China" follows Chief Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai police force. Inspector Chen is actually a frustrated poet who was assigned to a job as a policeman and
...more
Melanie Ho
My review, first published in the Asian Review of Books and then republished in Caixin:

9 August 2013 — While discussions on modern China usually take a heavy tone—or sometimes a flippant or sarcastic one—novelist Qiu Xiaolong has instead navigated a successful path of combining the issues of the moment with a charming whodunit. Enigma of China marks the eighth installment of the Inspector Chen series, which star the poetry-quoting senior policeman Chen Cao (Chief Inspector of the Shanghai Police
...more
Laura
I enjoy how literature and especially Chinese poetry are lightly laced throughout the Chen series. Over the years that I've been reading this series, Inspector Chen - cop, poet, translator, and rising political cadre, has become more cautious and circumspect in his approach to solving cases and dealing with superiors and inter-departmental rivals. Now nearing middle-age, Chen, once the young upstart, is saddled with more and more meaningless paperwork and is always couching his communications in ...more
Deborah Wilson
I love this detective series. This gives such an introspective perspective on modern life in China. But, the most intriguing thing about these books, is the mouth watering descriptions of the food! Between that and the variety of teas, I am ready to book a trip. Also, the inspectors personae of a celebrated poet allows the author to weave numerous beautiful lines of poetry and provide opportunity for a brief history lesson. I have read other more compelling mysteries but none so beautifully writ ...more
Kate
Hm. This started so well...!
Not sure if the author is bored with the character, or if he's setting us up for some amazing revelation in the next installment, but it really felt as though he lost interest towards the end. No real resolution to the crimes under investigation, and a very unsatisfactory anti-climax in Chen's personal life...
Paul Secor
There seem to be too many mediocre mysteries being written and published these days. Perhaps I just choose the wrong ones.
There's not much of a mystery here, and there's too much discussion of Chinese society in general, and of the state of the internet in contemporary Chinese society.
The ending is left open ended. I assume that's so the series can continue. I won't be following along.
Joy
This is the most subtle and thought-provoking book I've read in the Inspector Chen series so far. Chen has to make an ethical decision when it is not completely clear which of the options is actually the "right" choice. Qui lets us peek a little bit more deeply into what motivates the Chief Inspector in his work and in the world.
Marie
Good story as always with Xiaolong, but rather more bare prose-wise than his 4 or 5 previous ones i had read. The profuse amount of dialog was very stilted, and the ending was so abrupt that I tried getting another copy, thinking mine was defective. Not so, I guess! I wouldn't have expected cliff-hanger endings from this author.
Stephen
An interesting but very slow paced book. It is more about Chinese philosophy in today's world with a mixture of poetry than in the solution of a couple of homicides. It is extremely well written but it is a book more for the philosopher than the mystery fan.
Qui Xiaolong has written a number of books and although born in China, he makes his home in St. Louis , Missouri. It is a different style than I am used to.....not bad , just different. I am curious if all his books are paced as this one is.
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Pookie
The Inspector Chen series moves into the 21st century with a contemporary tale of policing in a modern China where social media can uncover unwanted secrets. Much lighter in tone than the earlier entries in the series, the story itself feels hidden behind its own veil and does come to a somewhat unsatisfying lack of a conclusion.
Jane
A book club selection as most in the group really enjoyed his Death of a Red Heroine. Unfortunately, this story barely held my interest. There is way too much mention of The Party, the political corruption, etc. for my taste. I am going to read Death of a Red Heroine just to compare my reaction!
Chris Bull
Chief Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Department is a great character and I have been following him in Qiu Xialong's writing. He provides a great view of contemporary Shanghai and what is happening in Chinese socialist communism. Chen is everyman - he is patient.
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9155
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)
  • Red Mandarin Dress (Inspector Chen Cao #5)
  • The Mao Case (Inspector Chen Cao #6)
  • Don't Cry, Tai Lake (Inspector Chen Cao #7)
  • Dragon bleu, tigre blanc (Inspecteur Chen Cao #9)
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) Red Mandarin Dress (Inspector Chen Cao #5) A Case of Two Cities (Inspector Chen Cao #4)

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