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The Master of Rain

3.52  ·  Rating Details  ·  328 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
Shanghai, 1926: a sultry city lousy with opium, warlords, and corruption at the highest levels. Into this steamy morass walks Richard Field, an idealistic Brit haunted by his past and recently appointed to the international police. Heâs not there long before called to the flat of a Russian prostitute, former daughter of privilege found sadistically murdered, handcuffed to ...more
Paperback, 509 pages
Published May 6th 2003 by Anchor (first published January 1st 2002)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 771)
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Steven Z.
Feb 23, 2014 Steven Z. rated it really liked it

Set in Shanghai in 1926, Tom Bradby’s first novel published in the United States begins with the murder of a Russian girl in her apartment. The murder is a brutal one and the investigation that follows lures the reader into the seamier side of Shanghai at a time when China is splintered between the Guomindang, under the leadership of Chang Kai-Shek; the emerging Chinese Communist Party led by Mao Zedong; and the various European interests that date back to the unequal treaties of the 19th centur
Jun 25, 2010 Tim rated it it was ok
Bradby seems to have all the ingredients necessary to make this mid-'20s Shanghai noir crime tale tasty as hell. Somehow though, he's cooked 'er too slow or something and the flavors have turned out blah instead of bright.

"Master of Rain" is rightly presented as a sort of Raymond Chandler yarn set in China, but after a promising beginning this story of a Russian prostitute's murder and the investigations of the various agencies in the international zone of wide-open Shanghai slows to a crawl. I
S. Lynham
May 30, 2015 S. Lynham rated it really liked it
Set in the International Settlement and French Concession of Shanghai in 1926, a very exotic place filled with all kinds of unusual people including masses of White Russian refugees, many of them beautiful women who went from being wealthy "little princesses" to world-weary prostitutes that no one, including the police, cares about in the least. Enter wide-eyed novice cop, Richard Field, seconded to the police at his request from Britain, seemingly to escape a place where everyone knew his fathe ...more
Badly Drawn Girl
Jun 19, 2014 Badly Drawn Girl rated it liked it
This book has been laying around my house for years. Every once in awhile I'd pick it up, start reading it, and then I'd find myself reading a different book all together while The Master of Rain continued to gather dust. But I have found that a book that doesn't capture my interest one month becomes interesting the next month. My taste seems to rely heavily on my mood and what is going on in my life. So books like The Master of Rain often get a 3rd and 4th chance because I believe it's a book I ...more
John Porter
Oct 18, 2012 John Porter rated it it was ok
Put it this way...I had to go back and search for the title of this book less than 60 days after reading it. It's not that it doesn't try to be memorable; it tries too hard. And it's a weird amalgam of Historical Novel/CSI episode/Good cop, Bad cop story that really didn't work for me.
Nov 25, 2012 Josh rated it did not like it
Shelves: i-give-up
I'm not done with this book: I started it over 1 year ago, and was sort of bored, so I put it down. I haven't picked it up since and may never pick it up again. But I'm telling myself I might since I love detective stories, and the time period interested me as well.
Juliana Philippa
Feb 02, 2009 Juliana Philippa rated it it was amazing
Great detective novel set in 1920s Shanghai with twists and turns (who can the main character, Richard Field, really trust? which of his fellow officers are on the take?) and a little romance. Highly recommend if you're looking for a pleasurable read!
Apr 12, 2010 Sarah rated it did not like it
I did not like this book. I wanted to know what would happen so I kept reading, but I might as well have skipped to the end and put myself out of my misery. The quality of the writing was poor (especially the dialogue) and the storyline disappointing.
Dave Fellows
Jan 28, 2016 Dave Fellows rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5/5 stars. Started strong but the lack of any development over about 300 pages started to grind, and as such it took me a lot longer to read this book than most others. A lot of people knew the answers but were just too stubborn to share. There was a lot of "Tell me", "No", "Tell me now", "I cannot", "You must", "I cannot". However, the story was strong and engaging enough had it been a couple of hundred pages shorter. I just wish I hadn't seen the biggest plot twist coming since the halfway p ...more
May 04, 2016 James rated it really liked it
Very well done. Shanghai in 1926. Murder. Exotica. A great who done it that keeps the reader guessing but also draws beautiful images of life in a hot, affluent, poor, corrupt city before communism takes over China. Well developed characters.
Duane Bowker
Aug 22, 2015 Duane Bowker rated it really liked it
Murder mystery set in Shanghai, 1926. It's a good one with lots of twists and turns. It's full of opium smugglers, prostitutes, tough cops and gangsters (all carrying Thompson machine guns), lots of sex and violence. Definitely for "adults only".
Jul 14, 2010 Jessica rated it really liked it
Shelves: mysteries
This is a very good noir set in 1926 Shanghai. Richard Field is a newly arrived investigator from Yorkshire, struggling to adjust to the steam heat and teeming corruption of his new city, while navigating the high-stakes internal politics of the international police service. When a Russian call-girl is found brutally murdered, Field meets her neighbor, another Russian emigre, and is smitten. While Natasha is beautiful and seductive, she is also dangerous -- she is part of a local gangster's cote ...more
Jul 25, 2014 Pat rated it liked it
Very good on the European perception of the atmosphere of concession-era Shanghai. Not great on gender politics.

Very good on the miserable, swampy weather here.
Feb 01, 2015 Peter rated it it was amazing
great book full of all the things a good book should have all great characters a great plot and a marvelous location,shanghai 1926.
Amy Siegfried
Jun 09, 2014 Amy Siegfried rated it really liked it
Liked this book more than I thought I would. Not a great story but enough to keep me up a little late to finish. Many twists and turns and more than a few red herrings.
Paul Chan
Apr 02, 2014 Paul Chan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: joe
Slow uninspiring,couldn't get into it in the first hundred pages so I just gave up :-(
Jan 02, 2016 Betty rated it liked it
Waded through the workmanlike prose and enjoyed the mildly interesting plot.
Jun 09, 2014 Monica rated it liked it
Quick read. Policier noir set in the Shanghai of the 20's. Interesting historically speaking and while the killer does not come as a big surprise at the end, it still manages to make you say..."Oh". Otherwise...the well known and oldest clichee in the world: the detective falling for the femme fatale, who is actually a good looking prostitute to be honest...and the hero he becomes for her in order to save her from the misery of her life. Duhhh....
Dennis Osborne
Oct 27, 2015 Dennis Osborne rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly enjoyable read , based in Shanghai.
Evan Thomas
Mar 07, 2011 Evan Thomas rated it did not like it
Absolutely the worst of a risky genre. This book is almost a parody of historical mystery/thrillers. Breathless description is wrapped in a chocking embrace of cliche: crazy WWI veterans; honest Scots; faithful Chinese, etc. If there is an overused image of colonial China it's in here. The glancing references to historical events are so removed from the tired and predictable plot as to indicate the author took Wikipedia for a quick spin.
Mar 20, 2009 Kay rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
A little cliché in its selection of characters from 1920's Shanghai but not a bad read in itself. I quite like historical fiction and detective novels and whilst a little grisly in a few spots it was not a slow laborious read. Bradby has taken good enough care to write believable characters and the setting is of course all part of the charm for me :)
Rick Meyer
Jul 08, 2015 Rick Meyer rated it it was amazing
would make a good movie
May 30, 2013 Conan added it
I really liked this book and it was really engaging. I couldn't predict what would happen but, it had a nice ending with Field. I'm shocked to see that he was just a newbie at Shanghai but, out of all of the law enforcers, he was the only one to be able to strike a deal with Lu.
Oct 22, 2010 Robert rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book although I did get annoyed with the occasional grammatical/spelling error or when the historical aspects didn't gel with what I had read about Shanghai in the 1920's - especially the communist threat. Nonetheless still a good read.
Nov 27, 2007 Aust* rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
It's a murder story, but it's not the clever detective work that wins my heart. The political tension among the great powers and the collision of Chinese and Western culture during that time in Beijing are what make this book unforgettable.
Sep 11, 2014 Tosh rated it really liked it
Great, poignant historical, thriller/murder mystery with true love and of another era in an exotic place (Shanghai, China in the 20's). Amazing descriptions of China and Shanghai and wonderful character development.
Dec 28, 2009 Cheryl rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I'd forgotten about this one until, with some time on my hands, I went browsing through goodreads and caught CW Gortner's review. Thanks for the reminder - I really liked this and want to read more Bradby!
Jan 26, 2008 Dorel rated it it was ok
It is about Shangi in the 1920s. I read the first 150 pages. They were kind of slow. Then I read the last 150 and it was very exciting. I didn't miss the middle.
Nov 01, 2008 Marleen rated it liked it
Recommended to Marleen by: Leuven Library
One of the interesting features of this thriller is the fact that it's set in Shanghai in 1926. Very evocative writing but I find the plot very complex.
Feb 16, 2012 Karen added it
Set in 1920s Shanghai. Everyone is corrupt. A Russian dancer is dead and the police are looking into it. Very real historical fiction period piece.
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Tom Bradby is a British journalist and novelist. He has been political editor for ITV News since July 2005.
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