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Paper Butterfly: A Mei Wang Mystery (A Mei Wang Mystery #2)

3.28  ·  Rating Details  ·  258 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
Modern-Day Beijing. Mei Wang, 31, lives and works as a private detective in China's capital city. After her resignation from the Ministry for Public Security, Mei saw her status drop swiftly in the eyes of her former colleagues, her TV-star sister, and even her mother. But sharp, intuitive Mei has taken her valuable experience and her insider knowledge of the police and ci ...more
ebook, 240 pages
Published May 5th 2009 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 459)
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Oct 14, 2011 Faith rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
A strong-willed private investigator in Beijing is hired to find a missing pop star, meanwhile a man sentenced to prison for protesting is getting released. These two story-lines eventually converge.

Primarily I feel disappointed. After reading the first chapter, it took me a long time to get back to this book. The story is really interesting, some of the scenes are well crafted and most of the characters are reasonably well developed.

But the writing style is extremely dry and the story lacks a s
I enjoy reading mysteries written by writers from other cultures and absorbing the flavors and the descriptions of their settings, in this case especially the inclusion of the student democratic movement and protest at Tianamen Square. This novel, set in Beijing, was interesting and colorful. The main character, Mei Wang, works as an "information consultant" which is a correct and acceptable title for her illegal private investigator firm. She is gentle, tenacious, and (of course) smart. She see ...more
Elaine Wong
It has great descriptive writing, conveying how China feels when you're not part of the fortunate few, but the story itself could've been paced or developed better.

Mei Wang is a private investigator, a not-exactly-legal job in China. She's picked up by a well-known record company to investigate a famous singer's disappearance. A second storyline runs concurrently, where a man named Lin is released from a work camp.

A lot of the descriptions, especially at the beginning of the book, were too extr
June Ahern
Sep 26, 2012 June Ahern rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My first read of Mei Wang's mysteries by Diane Wei Liang. I liked the book cover and since I have enjoyed stories that take place in China by other authors before this book, I decided to read "Paper Butterfly". I understand this book is one of a series of Mei Wang mysteries. Although I don't know Mei's history I gathered it by small snippets throughout the book. Mei's father was in a labor camp because of his rebellious actions against Communist China.
The story is modern-day China (from 1989 to
Kathleen Hagen
Paper Butterfly, by Diane Wei Liang, A-minus, narrated by Emily Woo Zeller, produced by BBC Audio America, downloaded from

This is a wonderful book describing the city of Beijing. It’s also a murder mystery. Mei Wang is a woman who worked for the Ministry of Security during the 1989 protests at Tianimin Square. She felt guilty because the people her age, mostly students at the University, were out there protesting and she was working for the government. She eventually left the govern
Este livro era uma verdadeira incógnita, uma vez que não tinha qualquer referência sobre ele. Nunca me tinha cruzado com ele e também não conhecia a autora. O próprio espaço onde a acção se desenrola foi novo para mim. Nunca tinha lido nenhum livro que tivesse como pano de fundo a China e a cultura Oriental,

China oferece-me emoções contraditórias. Se por um lado adoraria conhecer um país tão diferente do nosso, por outro o choque cultural assusta-me. Um pouco da cultura do país aparece retratado
PAPER BUTTERFLY (PI-Mai Wang-China-Cont) - VG
Wei Liang, Diane – 2nd in series
Picador. 2008, UK Hardcover – ISBN: 9780330447768

First Sentence: On they went, singing, “Communism is the red lantern of our heart” their voices soaring above the bitter wind.

Mei Wang, an information consultant because it is illegal to be a private investigator in China, has been hired to locate a famous starlet, Kaili. Kaili disappeared from her dressing room after a performance. In going through Kaili’s things, Mei fi
Jan 02, 2015 Amairani rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sinceramente, esperaba un poco más de este libro cuando lo vi, pensé que habría un poco mas de acción o intriga en la trama, pero aún así la historia logra conmoverte aunque sea un poco.
Sigo creyendo que hubiera sido mejor contar la historia de Lin, en general. Su historia es asombrosa. Realmente me conmovió.
Pero aún así, el final, aunque impactante, logró cumplir mis expectativas.
Es un libro que recomiendo para esas veces de ocio y aburrimiento, te logra distraer un poco.
Oct 24, 2014 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is like candy that's good for you. Does such a thing exist? Maybe candy fortified with vitamins? It's a lightweight detective story that takes place in China (Beijing, mostly) from the time of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests to the early 2000's.

I like the way the author weaves history and social commentary into the plot and the lives of the characters. I even like the internal dialog of the narrator, as her mind drifts to other things (memories of a lost love, resentment toward her
Yana Stajno
This book has enormous promise - a much needed view of contemporary China built on the ruins of the cultural revolution, a latticework of lives. The first two chapters were terrific - bleak descriptions of a labour camp and rural China were superb. But than I feel the writer tried to squeeze the material into a murder mystery format and the work seemed to lose its authenticity. That said, I will certainly read more by this author.
Ann Tonks
This is one where the description on the cover "Bridget Jones meets VAl McDermid" is not true. But neverthess, a good airport read. One doesn't feel the same texture of authenticity that one does from other Chinese detective writers such as Qui Xiaolong but good to have a female heroine in this genre.
Larry Bassett
Readers should investigate the website of Diane Wei Liang at It provides some interesting background about the author who spent some of her formative years with her parents in a forced labor camp in China and was in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

I read this book because I have an adopted daughter who was born in Aksu, China. This book takes you into modern China as it weaves it tale of mystery. As in many detective stories, all the loose ends are wrapped up in the last page
Jan 12, 2012 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
As I often do, I was reading another mystery novel at the same time as this one. It served to highlight how good this one really was. First, the setting was very well presented and combined modern-day quasi-capitalistic Beijing, Beijing the during the days of the Tiananmen Square uprising, and a deeper background of Beijing during the Cultural Revolution. (Indeed, the author sent part of her own childhood in a labor camp because her parents had been sentenced there by Mao's followers.)The detect ...more
Oct 22, 2015 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bittersweet novel of the trials and dissonance of modern China. The mystery is a vehicle to discuss life's inconsistencies.
Randall Pratt
This sophomore Mei Wang mystery is better than the first. While the first novel spent a lot of time developing the relationships of Mei's family, this one was a true mystery.

Set in the late 90's, Paper Butterfly tells the stories of Lin and Kaili. A prisoner is released and a pop star is killed. How are they related? The tragedy of Tiananmen 1989 once again plays prominently in the development of the characters, as does the cultural revolution. Ms. Liang surely is mourning the long term tragic c
Feb 04, 2016 Diane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: beijing, china, mei, wang
Lots of interesting cultural details, strong characters and good plot. Could have used a better proofreading/editing. I would read more by this author but hope for a less stilted English.
Zen Cho
Yessss, I liked it! I really wanted to like this book and was super pleased that it was good. Strong, convincing sense of setting and culture; none of the autoexoticism (useful word) one fears to find. The prose is straightforward but not dry; the protagonist Mei tough, pragmatic and sympathetic. The mystery wasn't especially interesting, I think -- I felt the resolution lacked force -- but you weren't really reading for the mystery anyway. Now to read the first book!
Dec 02, 2015 Kimfu rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I give this book a 5 on a scale of 10.

二零一五年: 第三十九本书
Mar 08, 2010 Krzysztof rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
It wasn't just another simple detective story. The biggest asset of this book is great description of China, Beijing - with its mixture of modern influences and tradition, Chinese history and unique culture. That's why "Paper Butterly" is worth reading. And after all, to realise how complicated is life in China for the generation involved in Tiananmen Square protests - the history that is still alive.
Bien que j'ai bien aimé ce premier livre chinois je n'ai pas tellement aimé la traduc qui passe assez mal. Mais le sujet est très très à propos puisqu'il s'agit de la politique abusive Chinoise. Le sujet était très délicat et sentimental. C'est une histoire d'amour qui aurait du bien passer sauf la traduc. J'espère le relire en Anglais pour lui donner le 4 qu'il mérite.
Jun 26, 2011 WR rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think this book might have been nice for someone who has little knowledge of China/Beijing. But based on my (albeit limited) knowledge of China, I personally found it a little too stereotypical, and was a little annoyed that the hanyu pinyin was often off (plus, there were sometimes no translations to help non-Mandarin speakers). Tries a little too hard, IMHO.
May 26, 2009 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2009
"Live in the present. It's the key to happiness," says Lu, a pretty and well-connected woman living in modern Beijing. This simple philosophy may work fine for her, but it falls flat for millions of people who were branded by their experience at Tianamen Square in 1989. "I hope life, not death, triumphs," says one unfortunate soul.

Abigail Hamilton
An interesting (but sort of easy to solve) PI mystery in China 9 years after Tienanmen Square. The author did include many details about the events of 1989 that I found interesting because I had never learned much about the event. The author was able to seamlessly tie in history with the plot, but I found the mystery a little boring.
Aug 16, 2010 Joan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent mystery with a background of recent Chinese history. The character of private investigator, Mei Wang further unfolds. The Eye of the Jade was good, but this was much better. Liang's writing is much tighter with improved character development. I am looking forward to future adventures of Mei Wang and friends.
Jun 15, 2009 Sandra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction
A sad little love story that takes place in China, nine years after the student protests in Tianamnen Square. This is billed as a mystery, and it is indeed, but it is more about how a moment in time changed forever the lives of two people who loved each other. It's the sort of book that lingers with you.
Rebecca Gatzlaff
Aug 26, 2015 Rebecca Gatzlaff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
This is about a detective named Mei Wang. She is working on a case of the disappearance of a famous pop star. This book has betrayal, love, hope and freindship. I loved story but I didn't really like the ending. This also takes place in Beijing. So it has some culture in it.
Jan 10, 2010 Gina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
An intriguing story set in Beijing about the present (a missing pop singer) and the past (the Cultural Revolution). The main character is a woman private investigator who is determined to solve the mystery, even though it might cost her business.
Oana M.
You wouldn't expect the paths of Lin and Kaili to cross, but they do. Their story is beautiful because of the tragedy that surrounds it: while some roads seem to end, hope appears where you least expect it... in a paper butterfly...
Katie  Wornson
May 16, 2010 Katie Wornson rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: alright
I think the coolest thing about this book is its author.
The book was rather slow, and beyond that the story, well, it wasn't that interesting. I think Mrs. Liang needed to work through some part of her past. Writers do that.
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Diane Wei Liang was born in Beijing. She spent part of her childhood with her parents in a labor camp in a remote region of China, and the other part in Beijing with her mother when her parents were forced to live and work in different cities. She studied psychology at Peking University. In 1989 she took part in the Student Democracy Movement and was in Tiananmen Square. Later that year, she left ...more
More about Diane Wei Liang...

Other Books in the Series

A Mei Wang Mystery (2 books)
  • The Eye of Jade (A Mei Wang Mystery, #1)

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