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The Master of Rain

3.51 of 5 stars 3.51  ·  rating details  ·  293 ratings  ·  38 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

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Steven Z.

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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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
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
Slow uninspiring,couldn't get into it in the first hundred pages so I just gave up :-(
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....
Evan Thomas
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 3 of 5 stars
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 3 of 5 stars
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.
Great plot. Fascinating setting. I learned a great deal about Shanghai and the political climate in China at the time. Very atmospheric.
Gaile Wakeman
Not so well written but a good story about Shanghai. I liked the mental images of Shanghai but the story was sort of trite and formulaic.
Marc Voskuil
Excellent read. The story is an average whodunnit, but the atmosphere is excellent. You can feel and smell the heat and the surroundings.
A thriller set in Shanghai in the 20's - a murdered Russian ex-patriot prostitute.

Not my usual type off book. It was ok.
Sarah "Mir"
Jan 21, 2012 Sarah "Mir" marked it as dropped  ·  review of another edition
Some great, deep writing. I was enjoying it very much but it became too crass. Excessive sex and inappropriate matter.
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Tom Bradby is a British journalist and novelist. He has been political editor for ITV News since July 2005.
More about Tom Bradby...
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