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Hidden Moon: An Inspector O Novel
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Hidden Moon: An Inspector O Novel (Inspector O #2)

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  351 ratings  ·  60 reviews
In A Corpse in the Koryo, James Church introduced readers to one of the most unique detectives to appear on page in years---the elusive Inspector O. The stunning mystery was named one of the best mystery/thrillers of 2006 by the Chicago Tribune for its beautifully spare prose and layered descriptions of a terrain Church knows by heart.

And now the Inspector is back.

In Hidde
...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published October 30th 2007 by Minotaur Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 559)
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Jeffrey Keeten
”Over the years, completely out of channels, a classification system for cases had grown up among the sector-level inspectors. The Ministry often sent down memos warning against the use of this unsanctioned system, only reinforcing suspicions that it was pretty close to accurate. Category one cases were simple enough--those we were expected to investigate and, where possible solve. Category two cases were those we were expected to be seen as investigating but not to solve. Category three cases w ...more
Kristina
This is the second Inspector O book. These books are so odd. The plot is not a straight-forward murder investigation; it's wrapped up in the politics of North Korea. Very interesting. The author (who uses a pseudonym) used to be some sort of covert agent in North Korea so the details and the atmosphere of the novel ring true. It's a very bleak and joyless place, Pyongyang, North Korea. Inspector O doesn't seem to get paid very often and when he eats his noodle soup at this diner, the owner doesn ...more
Ann
A wonderfully noir murder mystery set in modern day North Korea. There is plenty of cultural and political detail, but the characters are what drive this story. The narrator is the very Sam Spade-like Inspector O, a perceptive, sardonic man who appreciates good food, good liquor, and beautiful women, but prizes his solitary life. He has a thing about wood - don't ask. There are also bankers and Scotsmen and Germans and noodle cooks and bartenders and blind men and Kazakhs and Russians and a very ...more
Dan Downing
The second in the Inspector O series, this book looks at North Korea in a different light than "The Orphan Master's Son". Church is described as a former Western intelligence officer with extensive Eastern experiences, writing under a pseudonym. As such his books evoke LeCarre or Graham Greene more than any gun slinger espionage efforts. Since Inspector O is our lead character, there is a strong dose of Ed McBain and the 'police procedural'. In fact, it is the portrait of a civilian police depar ...more
Anna
Brilliant. Bizarre atmosphere, witty observations, police policing the police...
This was my first time meeting Inspector O, and I can't wait for more.
Also bizarre story with North Korea's first bank robbery and deaths without bodies. The places, people, and details that are odd (and of course exotic), and the police policing the police, they all create the odd, bizarre feel. 4.5 stars - that just has to be rounded to 5 since I'm craving for more Inspector O.
Joyce
I picked up this book because it takes place in North Korea, a country about which I know very little. While it's not the greatest police procedural I've ever read, it does provide hilarious descriptions of the North Korean bureaucracy and interesting glimpses of how a totalitarian regime affects the psyche of its citizens. The sparse style isn't quite Hemingway and the intellect isn't quite Orwell's, but I now understand how you can have a country without bank robberies.
Darwin8u
Church's second Inspector O novel struck gold with its dialogue and textured setting, was hit-and-miss with its characters, and was only so-so in developing its plot (sorta felt phoned-in on a spotty line). For me, the novel was a bookshelf whose corners just didn't quite square. You can tell the Church cared about the project, but the pieces just didn't all fit in the end.
Linnaea
This was the first of the Inspector O books that I have read and it was weird. This has been one of the few books where I felt stupid while reading it, Inspector O would say something to another character and I would wonder where that idea came from. The characters' voices are short, but there is a lot that is not being said while the characters are speaking. I mostly sure it was a good book but again I'm not quite sure what the solution to the bank robbery was. I have the other 4 Inspector O bo ...more
Bill Lively
Inspector O is a police detective in North Korea, that murky, little known country. The author, James Church, a pseudonym, was an Asian expert intelligence office for many years. To me the story is fair, but the cautious interaction and suspicions of North Korean government and police officials for each other, and everyone else, makes for an interesting read. No question can ever be given a direct answer. Everything is indirect, allusions, metaphors, etc. It is a tough place to be an official.
Gabe
The author clearly knows his stuff about secretive North Korea. I picked up this book because I'm fascinated with the place - always wanting to know more about how people simply do, and survive in an authoritarian place that simply denies them access to reality. And the book does not fail there. The details of the bureaucracy seem pulled straight from the pages of diplomatic files and cables. So, in some regard, you do get a sense of Pyongyang. But in other ways, you want more. For instance, the ...more
Monica
"Over the years, completely out of channels, a classification system for cases had grown up among sector-level inspectors. The Ministry often sent down memos warning against the use of this unsanctioned system, only reinforcing suspicions that it was pretty close to accurate. Category one cases were simple enough - those we were expected to investigate and, where possible, solve. Category two cases were those we were expected to be seen as investigating but not to solve. Category three cases wer ...more
Rick Skwiot
In a police state, even the police are policed. That seems obvious enough. But in Hidden Moon, Inspector O of the Ministry of People’s Security attempts to operate with some degree of integrity in a Pyongyang house of mirrors that makes grasping the truth impossibly difficult. In addition to scrutiny and subterfuge by his own authoritarian bureaucracy (if that’s not a redundancy), he’s watched and manipulated by the Military Security, State Security, Public Security and other top-secret forces t ...more
Karen
Inspector O works for the Ministry of the People's Security of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. In this second instalment of the series, following 'A Corpse in the Koryo', a bank robbery has just been committed in Pyongyang, and O is assigned the case. One of the robbers escaped, but was (coincidentally) struck and killed by a bus; the bank employees won't talk; and various signals indicate that those above don't really want the case to be solved at all. Many previous reviewers of the ...more
Ed
Inspector O (no first name) is with the detective bureau of the Ministry of People's Security in Democratic People's Republic of Korea--North Korea. He has a new boss, senior inspector Min, who might or might not be well connected with those who count in the Ministry; his influence seems to change daily based on who summons him and why he is summoned. This is not untypical in the bureaucracy of North Korea.

O has just returned from Beijing where he was part of a delegation that didn't do much of
...more
Lisa Sansone
I really wanted to like this book, in part because I've come to really like intelligent detective series that struggle with real issues and introduce me to different cultures (Olen Steinhauer, Jo Nesbo).

While I still think the writer is quite talented in some ways, and while I appreciate the concept and tone of the series, I have the following thoughts:

- For me, this book didn't follow all that well as a follow-up to the first book. Given all that happened in the first novel, I guess I was expec
...more
Matt
This is the second Inspector O novel I've read. I read Corpse in the Koryo and found it equal parts fascinating-- all the internal stuff-- and infuriating-- all the hotel room interrogation sequences, essentially the spy/ geopolitical stuff. So I wanted to read another of Church's novels, to see if the situation changed any once he's laid out the basics.

And the answer? A little confusing, actually. The first half of this book I like a lot more: the mystery was more interesting (a bank robbery le
...more
Alex


Inspector O is an interesting character. He's up against the establishment much like Renko in the Russian based novels of Martin Cruz Smith and Shan in Eliot Patterson's Tibet based series. I enjoy all these series and the political/social/geographic observations the authors bring to their stories. I've only read one of Inspector O's cases and of the three he seems the least developed but there is plenty of dark and existential humor throughout the story.
It took me a long time to read this boo
...more
Tim Niland
Inspector O is fast becoming one of the most compelling characters in modern crime fiction. A detective in the Ministry of People's Security in North Korea, O works in a country and system that few of us can scarcely imagine. In this novel, O is called to investigate a bank robbery, the first to ever occur in Pyongyang. As he investigates, he learn that this event is only the tip of the iceberg in a plot that has national and international ramifications. The pseudonymous James Church, a former i ...more
Daisy
I'm giving this up. It doesn't hold my interest. And it's trying too hard. The first in the series was subtler.

So far... (2-23-11) it's hard to comprehend really the idea that the Ministry of Public/People's Security doesn't want certain crimes solved. Categories 1, 2, 3: investigate and solve, investigate but don't solve, don't even investigate. It's really foreign.
And in the first of this series (A Corpse in the Koryo) there was the running joke about tea. Noodles might be the running joke in
...more
Patrick Sherriff
A great little hardboiled detective story with the delightful twist of setting it in North Korea and our hero being a Nork cop. That alone is brilliant. A few annoyances -- opening the book with weather put me off reading it for a year -- but hey, as I said, there are dashes of humour and flashes of brilliance here, and that's more than enough for me.
J.
Sep 03, 2010 J. rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: formula fanciers
Seems that Church's series slipped a little on the sophomore outing; here the shifting scenery and backstage maneuvering are a little obvious.

Generally the Inspector veers from alienated apparatchik to hallucinating kafka-victim, and back to Korean Everyman-- with complete regularity and little suspense. Not much on the rigors of plot cohesiveness either.

Ends, yawn, in a chase/conflagration wherein there is time under hails of gunfire for our buddy-caper representatives of East and West to air t
...more
Mary Ahlgren
I have to admit that there were so many departments with so many letters that I never really understood who did what to who, or why. Sure like Inspector O though.
International Cat Lady
Really good - and the ending was wound up much better than the ending of Corpse in the Koryo (which nonetheless was a good book). According to wikipedia (therefore it must be correct! haha) 'James Church' is a pseudonym for "a former Western intelligence officer with decades of experience in Asia" - so maybe he does have some solid insight into what life is like north of the 38th (As few Westerners have been to North Korea - and as the ones who have are typically under tight guard the whole time ...more
Kevin Scott
The hook that makes this book so compelling also makes it a frustrating read. O doesn't know what political forces are manipulating him, and only wants to know when his survival is at stake. But the book attempts to convey the absurdity of the North Korean state by never revealing these arbitrary forces that move people around. It's interesting, and effectively conveys the absurdity of the North Korean state, but it makes reading the novel occasionally frustrating. In addition to the poverty and ...more
Graham Crawford
I love the inspector O books, but they are so complicated i am never sure what has really happened. I always wish there was a wiki page which spelled out which spy was working for who and which games were being run. I bet if there was, I'd wonder if I had read the same book. Still - if you can't work out what really happened, you can appreciate the atmosphere and information about a country we know almost nothing about. I would love to be able to sit down for a dinner with James Church and ask h ...more
Kirsten
Dec 28, 2014 Kirsten rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of the Dr Siri Paiboun series
The second book in the Inspector O series and so much better than the first. If you like Colin Cotterill's Dr Siri Paiboun series, you'll love this one. I really enjoy this -- part mystery, part political thriller. The factor of adding a restriction to a good detective story - namely the repressive atmosphere of a dictatorship - adds so much to this.

The detective is a lot of fun too. One aspect I really enjoy is the characterization of the society of Pyongyang. The idea that there are problems
...more
Mike
I really liked the first in this series and finally got around to the second (so many books, so little time). Anyway, this one seemed a little more hard-boiled than the last, but it still was a fun read, although I did not enjoy it as much as A Corpse in the Koryo. There were a couple of moments where Inspector O was short on a key fact and it was revealed simple by his commanding officer coming by and saying 'O, I just found out that ...' I didn't like wrapping up a loose end that way, but, ove ...more
Frank
Another enjoyable read...started off almost slapstick at time, but got characteristically grim towards the end.

"Church" is a good writer, and the bits he drops about detective work like following people, seem wise and informed, even if they turn out to be hokum in reality.

There's a few things that seemed a bit forced in this book (the wood talk for instance was overdone) and the cell-phone schtick was groaningly bad, but overall, Inspector O is a likable character and his world is engaging, al
...more
Andrew
Outing #2 for Inspector O of North Korea was a bit more noir-ish and a bit more Kafka-esque than the first installment. Church continues to bring a lively sense of humor through his characters and the absurdities of North Korea's paranoia-driven state. My only complaint is that my experience as the reader going through O's circle chases became a little redundant at times. Instead of identifying with the inspector's frustration, I was given over to boredom for a few pages. Still, topnotch mystery ...more
Spuddie
A worthy second entry in the Inspector O series, set in the unlikely locale of North Korea. With their hands pretty much tied by various government agencies, investigating murder and crime is no picnic for Inspector O and his colleagues, but he manages to figure things out by the end if only for his own satisfaction. It's hard to imagine working in such conditions but the author gives a realistic feel to the culture and the thinking processes of the main character, making him unique and interest ...more
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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)
  • Bamboo and Blood (Inspector O, #3)
  • The Man with the Baltic Stare (Inspector O, #4)
  • A Drop of Chinese Blood (Inspector O, #5)
A Corpse in the Koryo (Inspector O, #1) Bamboo and Blood (Inspector O, #3) The Man with the Baltic Stare (Inspector O, #4) A Drop of Chinese Blood (Inspector O, #5) The Hammer of God

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“Over the years, completely out of channels, a classification system for cases had grown up among sector-level inspectors. The Ministry often sent down memos warning against the use of this unsanctioned system, only reinforcing suspicions that it was pretty close to accurate. Category one cases were simple enough - those we were expected to investigate and, where possible, solve. Category two cases were those we were expected to be seen as investigating but not to solve. Category three cases were those we were to avoid - leave every stone unturned. In fact, for a category three case, it was best not even to record that there were any stones. No records, no files, no nothing.” 2 likes
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