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A Case of Two Cities (Inspector Chen Cao #4)
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A Case of Two Cities (Inspector Chen Cao #4)

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  675 ratings  ·  72 reviews
Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Bureau is summoned by an official of the party to take the lead in a corruption investigation - one where the principle figure and his family have long since fled to the United States and beyond the reach of the Chinese government. But he left behind the organization and his partners-in-crime, and Inspector Chen is charged to uncov ...more
Hardcover, 307 pages
Published November 28th 2006 by Minotaur Books (first published 2006)
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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
63rd out of 265 books — 721 voters
Dragon Bones by Lisa SeeDeath of a Red Heroine by Qiu XiaolongRed Mandarin Dress by Qiu XiaolongWhen Red Is Black by Qiu XiaolongA Case of Two Cities by Qiu Xiaolong
Asian mystery
5th out of 143 books — 35 voters

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Community Reviews

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A Case of Two Cities has all the steamy stuff of a thriller: a tip-off about a scandal in the back rooms of a karaoke centre, a dead high-level detective in a compromising situation, and a strange cover-up coming from top-level Internal Security. Throw in the fact that this is 1990s China, and you know that political shenanigans are abrewing.

In Qiu's fourth novel, Chief Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Buereau is assigned to investigate the corruption case of a high official, Xing Xing, who ha
Sep 05, 2011 Sara rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: T.S. Eliot fans, those interested in modern China
This one's a page-turner, with the added bonus of a marvelous parody of T. S. Eliot's "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." The two cities in question are Shanghai and St. Louis, although there's a stop in L.A. along the way. Chen is investigating corruption in China and naturally those in high places are ready to protect themselves and their cronies. When Chen's investigation stirs them up, he is ordered to take two weeks off and lead a delegation of poets to a conference in the USA, where the sub ...more
Jun 16, 2014 Alice marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
Read until around 100 pages, and just wasn't feeling it. Didn't feel any connection to the main character, though that's probably because it's not the first one in the series with the same main character.
Enjoyed this Inspector Chen book, though not quite as much as the previous three in the series...perhaps I should have taken more of a break between them, but I felt compelled to get the next one and then to finish it. I do highly recommend the series though; very enjoyable. Also, as a side note, great little descriptions of meals throughout, making me crave Chinese food, especially dumplings...
I liked this book least of all in the series so far, perhaps because of the details of the case under investigation. It's logical that considering Chen's success he would be assigned to investigate corruption and the webs of influence higher up in government and industry at some point, but considering that I couldn't imagine any way it could turn out well for him, it made for a tense read. In addition, the exposition was clunky - like bad TV dialogue in some places: "Well, Jim, you'll remember h ...more
Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Bureau is a different kind of police officer. He studied poetry at University before being assigned to the police force by the Communist Party on his graduation. He is a very thorough and competent officer who uses a blend of police techniques and connections to solve his case. He also must always take into consideration any political impacts from his investigations as there is a Communist Party member in the police station who monitors everything that h ...more
Tito Quiling, Jr.
When I read the "An Inspector Chen Novel" print on the cover, I had a sense of apprehension to start reading the book because I might not be able to catch up with the narrative, if this was the nth book in the series. Turns out Inspector Chen's life as a detective/writer proved to be an interesting read.

A Case of Two Cities(2006) by Qiu Xiaolong also depicts the prevalence of corruption in China after the Cultural Revolution. From Shanghai to St. Louis, Inspector Chen is badgered with informati
I like Qiu Xiaolong’s books. One thing he does is intersperse prose with Chinese sensibilities through frequent poetry quotations. Even though an ex pat from China, he conveys Chinese values and culture in an affectionate manner. One of the great parts of this novel is when a delegation of Chinese poets are in LA for a conference, and their view of US culture, i.e. only valuing Chinese writer who are dissidents or not having tea water. Our protagonist Inspector Chen is assigned to undercover cor ...more
Pamela Hickey
Inspector Chen opens a window into modern Chinese life, this time adding a trip to the US with the inevitable cultural clashes. Many reviewers have complained that they found this particular novel lacking. For this reader, the story was engaging, thought provoking and allowed a peek into the American/Chinese dissonance. If you are new to Inspector Chen, read the first couple of books before exploring the later novels.
Elizabeth Hunter
This was interesting--a mystery novel translated from Chinese and set partly in China, partly in the US. The main character is the kind of polyglot that seems implausible--a poet, policeman and Party cadre drawing from all his resources in an attempt to expose corruption and solve a couple of murders along the way. The inside look at modern day Shanghai is fascinating, but the corruption case is rather abruptly shelved with only one of the many questions it raises answered and no murderer identi ...more
The book, one of a series of related detective stories, makes interesting reading. The story takes place in modern China against a background of China's changing economic and government. I chose the book because of the author. The story takes place in China and the USA. The main character, a police inspector from Shanghai, in addition to being a competent english speaking policeman and loyal party member, is also a poet, published author, and holder of a degree in Western Literature. One of his ...more
Beijing assigns detective, translator, and poet Chen Cao of the Shanghai police the task of investigating the case of Xing, who has amassed a fortune while corrupting various party officials and absconded to the U.S. The detective has no sooner begun his investigation than he is told to lead a delegation of writers to the U.S. for a cultural exchange. As an honest detective Chen, as well as his partner Yu, are at risk not only from the bad guys but from members of their own government who may be ...more
I haven't completed this yet, but two things stand clear: 1) the world of Chinese hierarchical politics is both treacherous and yet familiar to that of the Western hemisphere; 2) the literati of the U.S. suffer, in a subtle but increasingly relevant way, by remaining ignorant of the breadth of classical Chinese literature. The first few chapters are partly an indulgent recitation of seminal novels and operas that the characters love referring to, almost as a sort of second language to color and ...more
John W.
With A Loyal Character Dancer and When Red is Black, I continued to read the story of Inspector Chen's investigations. Continues a first class series of novels based on life in China with all its political and corrupt aspects.
I read the first three volumes of this series last year, but then was hit by crime fiction fatigue. I picked this up yesterday and finished it this morning - it's definitely a page-turner. I have to say, though, I didn't like Chen as much as I think I liked him last year. And there definitely wasn't enough of Yu and his wife in this novel.

In this book, Chen is tasked with uncovering a corruption case. And of course since corruption seldom is restricted to a small group of people, I expected the
Jonathan Peto
Inspector Chen is a poet as well as a member of the Shanghai Police Department. He also supplements his meager income as a police officer in China by translating mystery books. The book includes digressions about poetry, which Chen quotes at times, and Chen's knowledge of Chinese literature informs his approach to the job. Though liberal, he is a member of the Chinese Communist party and I enjoyed how that influenced the narrative. If you insist on a fast pace and skim parts of books without con ...more
Gary Van Cott
This is the first one of these books that actually might make a good movie. There was some action, certainly more than the previous book. Sometimes I think they need a bit more editing. I presume the author is writing in English (not his native language). There are occasional sentences that don't make much sense. Some of the book is set in St Louis where he currently lives but the middle part is in Los Angeles. He describes an old friend of Chen as living in a new brick house. That is highly unl ...more
Peg Omalley
Mystery showing police inspector in Shanghai trying to do his work within the limitations from the government. I love international settings - and feel we can learn a lot from them!
Inspector Chen goes to the US and finds that politic is all the same everywhere. Or something like that. This is the weakest of the Qiu's Inspector Chen series I've read so far.

The plot is entirely focused on the corruption of the Chinese political class, the Red Rats, their influence, the way they steal money and flee the country. Chen is given the mandate to find the corrupted and to bring them to justice but he finds that it's all a mascarade in the end. The whole US trip is only a diversion
Ralph Britton
I was disappointed in this novel - I very much enjoyed his first, but this one, though interesting, is laboured and heavy. It is inartistic to have Chinese characters explaining things to each other that they obviously know - such as the problem of corruption - for the benefit of a supposed ignorant western audience. The romance between Chen and the American policewoman is feeble too - and the constant quotes from Chinese poetry begin to pall. I wonder whether residence in America has made Qiu X ...more
Liked this one well enough. It was one of those books where you're reading and it doesn't seem close to a resolution even though you clearly have only 50 pages to go, then suddenly stuff wraps up. Not sure if some of the unresolved elements (and there are some big ones, at least for me) in this one get picked up again later. Still, as always, great fun to read. And Qiu brings Chen to St. Louis, where he lives and works. In fact, Chen visits the bookstore, or at least a fictionalized version of i ...more
Note to self: only read this author after a hearty meal. the description of the meals makes one feel really hungry. And they keep meeting at restaurants.
a chinese crime novel interspersed with chinese peotry (inspector chen, the hero, is a poet).
interesting view of corruption in modern china.
only one thing bugs me: how could the police get transcripts from those phone conversations? Ok, maybe An's land line and her cell phone was monitored already, but the guy who buys a pre-paid cell phone in t
A run-of-the-mystery is a run-of-the mill-mystery, no matter where set.
Rafa Sánchez
Magnífica novela, como las anteriores. El detective Chen es un gran carácter de novela, su círculo de amistades no deja de sorprender cada vez más. Me encanta la serie. Un lujo descubrir China disfrutando de las novelas de Qiu.
Der vierte Fall des Oberinspektors Chen aus Shanghai lebt wie seine Vorgänger nicht vom (wenig aufregenden) Krimi-Plot, sondern von seiner wirklich interessanten Atmosphäre. Man meint die immer noch enge Verquickung von Partei und Gesellschaft im China des neu entdeckten Kapitalismus erst zu erkennen. Die "roten Ratten" sind korrupte Parteikader, auf deren Jagd sich Chen begibt, obwohl er lieber T.S.Eliot lesen und eigene Gedichte schreiben würde... Interessant und atmosphärisch dicht, aber nich ...more
A Case of Two Cities is the fourth Inspector Chen book by Qui Xiaolong. For me it might be the least satisfying. The basis of the plot in this book was clear, but the details of were confused by the muddle of Chinese politics. I felt, perhaps like Chen, that the resolution was not clear or satisfactory. Even so, I enjoy the poetry interspersed throughout and the details of Chinese society and Chinese thinking. I will continue to read these books, for I learn things from each one.
Inspector Chen and his associate Detective Yu unpeel some of the layers of Chinese corruption, pursuing their investigations in Shanghai and the US. Chen is astute enough to recognise the constraints and to secure the best outcome in the circumstances. Lots of conversations where things are said obliquely or, more significantly, left unsaid, and lots of working through connections which characterise modern China. Extracts from classic Chinese poetry illuminate and inform.
I enjoyed this but somehow, it felt clunky compared to my memories of his first two books, possibly his third book. The dialogue felt forced and unnatural, the writing not so smooth…

That said, definitely what I needed, and I appreciated Qiu's continued inclusion of Chinese poetry and literary references. I probably would have enojyed this more if I had read or been familiar with T.S. Eliot's work… alas…

"As poor as a professor, as silly as a PhD." 49
Jan 12, 2012 Liz added it
This is the latest in the Inspector Chen series of a policeman in modern Shanghai. These are all good but as always with a mystery series, the early ones are best.

This one is hardly suspenseful, and in fact easy to put down. It's difficult to follow the characters and their connections in this story of property development and corruption but extremely interesting for its view of capitalism in modern China.
Mar 10, 2009 Spiros rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those with a taste for involved police procedurals
Shelves: bins, vacationreads
Chief Inspector Chen and Detective Yu negotiate political minefields in Shanghai and St. Louis in attempting to bring a circle of corrupt "red rats" to book. As always, Chen displays more adroitness than any of the characters in the book are willing to give him credit for; and as always, it is Yu's doggedness, with aid from wife Peiquin and his retired cop father, Old Hunter, which breaks the case.
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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)
  • Red Mandarin Dress (Inspector Chen Cao #5)
  • The Mao Case (Inspector Chen Cao #6)
  • Don't Cry, Tai Lake (Inspector Chen Cao #7)
  • Enigma of China (Inspector Chen Cao #8)
  • 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) The Mao Case (Inspector Chen Cao #6)

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