Rachel's Reviews > The Mao Case

The Mao Case by Qiu Xiaolong
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Jun 19, 11

bookshelves: mystery
Read from June 13 to 17, 2011

Chen is a chief inspector detective in Shanghai, China. He's also an amateur poet/writer, and a man nursing a broken heart. He's called by higher ups to investigate a young woman who's grandmother is believed/presumed to have had a sexual relationship with Chairman Mao, back in the day, before the Cultural Revolution destroyed her and her daughter. Party leaders believe that the granddaughter, Jiao, has some relic from Mao that could be embarassing to Mao and the Communist party. Chen is given a chance to investigate and figure out what it is before Internal Security takes "extreme measures."

I was interested by how much the memory of Mao continues to haunt Chinese politics. People are murdered and persecuted because of an imagined potential connection. Even Chen is potentially at risk, simply because he is being asked to investigate a case that may involve some former, potentially compromising, possession of Mao's that the grandmother may have acquired.

I found Mao's hypocrisy intriguing, as he tore down everything related to Imperial China, and then established himself as a man as powerful as any emperor ever was. In reading this book, the difference to me between any rotton American president and an actual dictator is made crystal clear.

Also clear is the difference in Chinese poetry and Western traditional poetry. I've never been a big fan of poetry anyway, but the poetry in this book pushes my pitiful tolerance to its absolute limits.
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