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Bad Traffic: A Novel (Inspector Jian #1)

3.49  ·  Rating Details ·  163 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
In this "GREASED-LIGHTNING" crime debut (Kirkus Reviews), Simon Lewis has created two unforgettable characters and a critically acclaimed novel that will stay with you long after the final page is turned.

Inspector Jian is a corrupt Chinese cop who thinks he’s seen it all. But his search for his missing daughter takes him to the meanest streets he’s ever faced—in rural Engl
ebook, 384 pages
Published December 9th 2008 by Scribner (first published 2008)
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Jan 31, 2009 Jeffrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mystery fans who like a different point of view
Inspector Jian comes to England to search for his daughter, who he believes from a phone message she left him is in trouble. Jian is a Chinese cop who speaks no English, but this problem fails to sway him from pursuing leads. After a while in the country, he comes to believe that his daughter is dead and starts searching to avenge her. At the same time Ding Ming and his wife Little Ye enter England as imigrant migrants smuggled into the country. Ding Ming is quickly separated from his wife, who ...more
An enormously accomplished piece of work.

I don't want to say too much, but it's the sort of thing you finish and tear up thinking about -- not necessarily because of the story or what's happened, but because of the deftness and unexpected grace of the writing. Completely deserve of all the praise it's received.
May 17, 2008 Datsun rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Someone on a plane, looking to kill 2.5 hours, maybe...
The concept was a good one, worthy of Elmore Leonard: A Chinese police detective, used to the perks of power and authority in Beijing, comes to England in search of his wayward daughter; alone, friendless, and unable even to speak a single word of English, he crosses paths with people traffickers and drug dealers.

But just as the story is getting into to the truly dirty details that would bring it to life, it wimps out. The degradation is suggested, but avoided. The torture is implied, but never
When Inspector Jian, a Chinese cop, receives a cryptic call for help from his daughter in England, he drops everything and heads out to find her, despite not knowing how to read or speak English. Meanwhile Ding Ming and his wife Little Ye have been illegally transported to England to work for a Chinese gang in hopes of one day providing a better life for their family back home in China.

When Jian and Ding Ming's paths cross in rural England, sparks start flying. They can help each other but are b
Apr 07, 2009 Polly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
All the way up to the last few paragraphs, this book had 4 stars. It was slow to start; it took about 100 pages for all the plot threads to come together. (That made it hard to stay interested; I'd get involved in a character, and the focus would switch to another.) Once it got going, though, it was a fun, suspenseful, though very violent mystery. I particularly liked the Chinese view of the UK; the illegal immigrants were especially appealing.

This is clearly meant to be the start of a series. I
Feb 25, 2009 B rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
FM Inspector Jian of China receives a call for help from his daughter studying in Great Britain. Without any English language skills he rushes off to Great Britain to find that his daughter is not at school anymore and when he finds her phone, he sees a video of her being killed. Filled with rage, he sets out to find her killers and stumbles upon an English speaking illegal immigrant and a ruthless operation of smuggled Chinese slaves. This is a taut, exciting, and bloody story made more remarka ...more
Apr 26, 2009 Dennis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This was a sprint. Simon Lewis' prose is perfectly paced. The urgency felt by the main character is matched by deft development of a plot to justify his frantic pursuit and by his policeman's assumption of power and control. Lewis has written the Rough Guides for several Asian cities, and apparently lives in China as much as possible. Set in England, this novel demonstrates a keen eye for the nuances of cultural difference.

The book ends well, but without slowing down. I felt like I'd been hurtle
Feb 24, 2009 Patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was prepared to dislike this based on the photo of the author and his bio. (He's one of these guys who gets to wander around the world on an expense account.)

This is a good story — with two parallel strands — involving illegal Chinese immigrants, a renegade Chinese cop on the loose in England, and some icky sex.

The writing is fast and confident, and if the two strands are wrapped up a little too neatly, so what.
Apr 06, 2009 Joanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a great read! This book will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. Starts out like the recent movie, "Taken." Father in law enforcement, daughter out of the country, not telling the whole truth of what she is doing. Gets in with the wrong people, calls her father on a cell phone, "Help me." Phone goes dead. Amazing action. Don't miss it!
Fast-paced adventure/mystery novel - a real page turner! If you like the Jane Whitefield series by Thomas Perry (or the Jason Bourne movies), you'll enjoy this. The premise is also a unique and clever one - a mainland Chinese cop who goes to England in search of his missing daughter. The language and cultural barriers (Jian doesn't speak any English) add a fresh perspective.
Jan 06, 2009 J.R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thrillers
This is another of a group of fine literary thrillers that came from abroad in 2008.
Highly recommended for anyone who likes character-driven, fast-paced thrillers in the mode of Elmore Leonard. Inspector Ma Jian and migrant worker Ding Ming have to be the oddest couple to hit Britain in years. Lots of action, humor and pathos.
Read my review on Amazon.
Feb 22, 2009 Aligawalipop rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a big fan of fast-paced, exciting books, so I really liked this. I thought the main characters and the Chinese viewpoint was delivered without patronization or crude stereotype, which was good. I picked it up after reading reviews on the spread-the-word website. It was really well-written and readable.
Feb 07, 2009 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
I had read a review that this book was fantastic. So, I was a little disappointed when it didn't live up to its expectations. That said, it is about two men, the women they love, and a fuled 48-hour chase that will leave several dead. It may not be fantastic, but I will agree it is good.
Apr 02, 2009 Rose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great first novel for Simon Lewis. Gives an eye into Chinese society of today made especially startling when set against contemporary Britain. Offers a hard look at the business of trafficking in human beings.
Jan 28, 2009 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good edge-of-your seat thriller mixed with interesting observations on China and Western cultures. If you want an easy read that you won't want to put down, this is a good pick.
May 29, 2009 Dj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
highly entertaining screwball, violent fish out of water. chinese cops daughter is in trouble in the uk so he goes there to save here. then the wild ride begins.
Apr 30, 2009 Marie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really good...lots of twist and turns and one really lucky illegal immigrant that you will love by the end. "I really need to stop jumping out of moving cars."
Jan Froehlich
Mar 31, 2009 Jan Froehlich rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Very different from the usual pulp detective novel. About illegal immigrant traffic from China. Very entertaining since we're going to China this summer.
Jun 04, 2009 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dark vision of England's criminal factions and humerously interpreted culture through non English speaking Chinese Sleuth and peasant .
Apr 27, 2009 Davehk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Seems like the beginning of a series/character. I could well be up for more.
Rob Kitchin
Jul 30, 2012 Rob Kitchin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The premise for Bad Traffic is a good one: both privileged and peasant Chinese struggling to find their place in a new country with limited English and understanding of the culture. It enables Lewis to both explore the differing Chinese experiences of Britain and to give an impression of Britain through the eyes of others, and to also give some insight into modern China. It’s an opportunity he doesn’t waste, providing an engaging and unsettling tale of the illegal immigrant experience and the ga ...more
Nov 12, 2014 Xelloss100 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english-books
This book was very unexpected. My aunt gave it to me since she bought me two books I wanted and due a promotion on the store got one free. She just picked one on the same shelf. I have to say I'm glad she picked this. Though some of the general plot lines may seem a little cliche, the book is anything but. I really like the shifts between PoV and the construction of very different characters that you can clear notice in the narrative.

I especially like the characterization of Jian, his though pro
Sep 07, 2016 Paula rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
I'd heard good things about this novel, so it was on my list of stuff to try and get hold of from the library now they're very kindly doing free inter-library requests...

The basic premise of 'Bad Traffic' is that it's the story of Jian, a policeman in China who is pretty much just getting by, taking bribes and concentrating on feathering his own nest no matter what - all that changes, however, when he gets a panicky phone call from his daughter, who is at university in England.

Although he speaks
Jul 22, 2011 Elli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author is originally from Wales and Scotland, but now he spends only a part of the year in London and the rest in Japan and China. He's a backpacker and I assume much of his knowledge of the people he portrays is from people he has met and had dealings with. I think he is trying to portray the cultural clash as well. The story revolves around the illegals coming to the UK. Their transportation debt is to be worked off, and they are literally owned until they so do. This one comes to a head w ...more
First Sentence: Jian walked into Leeds University and handed his message, written for him on the back of an aeroplane boarding pass, to the front desk security guard.

Inspector Jian is a man of personal and professional stature in his native China. He receives a desperate call from his daughter, who is supposed to be studying in England, that sending him flying from his world into one completely foreign to him both in custom and language and into a world of smuggled migrants.

This book started so
Carolyn Fitzpatrick
This is your basic "cop rescuing his kidnapped daughter" story but with an important twist. The cop in question is from China, speaks zero English, and is freewheeling his way through the alien English landscape, boosting cars and busting up bad guys as he goes. He is described as big and beefy and past his prime, so I don't see this as a Jackie Chan movie. Besides that he does plain old punching rather than martial arts. But it would be great to see this on the big screen.
Yikes. This book is more suspense than mystery, focused on the trafficking of Chinese immigrants into England. There's nary a down moment in this this well-written page turner. If you like this sort of novel, have fun.
A non-English-speaking cop from mainland China (Mandarin speaker) travels to England after a mysterious and troubling phone call from his daughter. We soon see what a difficult task he has, when he cannot communicate with anyone (most Chinese immigrants are from Hong Kong and speak Cantonese) and he cannot rely on signs or written instructions to help him find his way. He eventually hooks up with an English-speaking newcomer who was recently smuggled in from mainland China, and the pair of them ...more
Nov 04, 2012 Ken rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Inspector Jian is a corrupt, yet big-hearted Chinese detective who gets an abrupt emergency call from his daughter who hysterically demands that she needs him NOW! He drops everything, and heads to Leeds, England with limited resources, almost nothing to go on, and absolutely no knowledge of the English language.

That's the way this fast-paced adventure thriller begins, and it never lets up for a second. It's a great tale from start to finish, and I could barely put it down. The novel is a fast-p
Sep 27, 2013 Bookhuw rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
I suppose in some ways, Lewis' late-nineties novel Go was an action-packed, slimmed-down version of Garland's The Beach, and in a similar vein the action in this book begins immediately, with few lulls thereon in. The problem is, once the USP of a Chinese cop adrift in rural England has been introduced – and it is introduced on page one, mind you – everything that follows is fairly unremarkable, flat, and humourless. That said, I suppose I've never gone in for thrillers, so what do I know? If yo ...more
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