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Whispering Shadows

(The Rising Dragon #1)

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  1,400 ratings  ·  227 reviews
The first in a suspenseful new trilogy by the internationally bestselling author of The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, this gripping story follows a retired expat journalist in contemporary China who tries to crack a murder case as he battles his own personal demons.

American expat Paul Leibovitz was once an ambitious advisor, dedicated father, and loving husband. But after
Hardcover, 341 pages
Published April 14th 2015 by 37 Ink (first published 2007)
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Average rating 3.65  · 
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Dec 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Thank you to the publisher and to Netgalley for an opportunity to read Whispering Shadows. This was the first book I have read by Jan-Philipp Sendker. It is set in contemporary China, and told primarily from the perspective of an American expat, Paul, who has been living in Hong Kong for 30 years. It's hard to pigeon hole the genre that Whispering Shadows fits into. It's sort of a mystery involving the death of an other American. But the mystery is not very complex and the book doesn't really ...more
John Williamson
Dec 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I read Sendker’s first book, “The Art of Hearing Heartbeats,” and loved it so I couldn’t wait to read his follow-up. I found it hard to put down; read it within two days. Needless to say, I enjoyed the story. It’s more than your standard mystery thriller - the author also gives insight into the setting the story takes place, in this book Hong Kong. While I have traveled to China, it gave me a glimpse into the dark-side of China that you only get a glimpse of in movies. The author focuses on two ...more
Thanks to NetGalley and Atria for allowing me access to this advance reader copy.

I loved Jan-Philipp Sendker’s “The Art of Hearing Heartbeats,” so I was very eager to read this. It’s definitely a bit different from “Heartbeats.” It’s a blend of a love story, a tale of loss and healing and a crime thriller set in modern-day Hong Kong and China.

Paul Leibovitz lives a life of self-imposed exile on Lamma Island in Hong Kong. His only son, Justin, died three years ago of leukemia and his wife has
When we reviewed the international bestseller, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, by Jan-Phillipp Sendker three years ago, I wrote that rarely had a novel touched me the way that one did and that’s still true. What’s also true is that now, having read Jan-Phillipp’s new novel, Whispering Shadows, I can say with no hesitation that he’s one of the most gifted storytellers out there. Whispering Shadows is a quite different novel from The Art of Hearing Heartbeats yet it also has the same depth of ...more
I received a copy of Whispering Shadows from Atria Books presented on Goodreads.

"In contrast, he noticed, the stillness that reigned in this house did him no good. It spread through him and pushed all thoughts of the case of Michael Owen, of Mei or Paul to one side, and made space for memories that he did not want to engage with. Stillness, thought Zhang, is not good for people who want to forget."

I was drawn into this book full-on from page one. The writing style of Jan-Philipp Sendker is rich
I wanted to read Whispering Shadows as I read enjoyed The Art Of Hearing Heartbeats.

The Whispering Shadows is the first in a suspenseful new trilogy. The story has equal parts crime thriller, romance and view of China's Cultural Revolution, this novel is at heart, a story about the burden of survival. It packs a punch.

The gripping story of Whispering Shadows follows a retired expat journalist in contemporary China who tries to crack a murder case as he battle his own personal demons.

Jul 09, 2015 rated it did not like it
Couldn't actually finish. The characters are not engaging, but they are interesting. The problem is the history and politics that abound. After slogging through dozens of really boring pages, I read the character saying that he had only a passing interest in it. Well that was it for me. Whatever passing interest I had, passed.
Judy Collins
A special thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

WHISPERING SHADOWS by Jan-Philipp Sendker, is a multi-layered extraordinary story of universal human emotions of loss, love, betrayal, and trust.

A gripping suspense story of a retired journalist in contemporary China attempting to crack a murder case, as he battles his own demons and loss of his son. A mix of a love story and crime mystery thriller, a captivating tale of a man’s desperation and
Jun 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction
Jan-Phillip Sendker proves himself to be a gifted author with his second novel, “Whispering Shadows”. I adored this novel as much as his first novel, “The Art of Hearing Heartbeats”. Sendker is able to create complex and real characters that the reader can identify with and have compassion for: imperfections, faults, and all.

In this novel, the whispering shadows are the guilt, fright, and insecurities caused by the 1966 Chinese Cultural Revolution on the Chinese people. In his Acknowledgments,
Rabbit {Paint me like one of your 19th century gothic heroines!}
Disclaimer: This book was given to me by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this one. I loved the complexities. It did take a long time for the story to really take off, since it was more character-driven. I think my biggest issue was with the fact that when dealing with the big baddie it was resolved a little too quickly.
Gail Nelson
Feb 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Absolutely love Jan Philipp Sendker. Loved The Art of Hearing Heartbeats and A Well Tempered Heart. His writing is like no one else's. This is a very different kind of book for him. Predictable but still enjoyable!
Oct 10, 2019 rated it did not like it
This book, the first I've read by the author, had a lot of potential, as well as a lot of praise for what reviewers saw as an evocative insider’s view of an exotic society. Sendker's prose is smooth, compellingly paced, and contemplative, sometimes thought-provoking. He demonstrates an imaginative understanding of politics and relationships, the meat and bones of many a great thriller. So what went so wrong here?

The narrator seems out of place in his own story, so much that it makes me question
Christine Dolan
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
It's a very long time since I read a book so quickly. I thought I was going to struggle with it, as the beginning is terribly sad, about the death of a child. But I knew it was a crime thriller, so I raced through that bit. Once I got to the investigation, I found it to be a tense page-turner. All the bits about the Chinese Cultural Revolution were interesting, too. It's the first one of a trilogy, and the second one is available. I'm buying it right now on Kindle, as I can't wait to read it.

Haniya (Voracious Bookling)
Oct 29, 2017 rated it did not like it
Paul Pessolano
Mar 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
“Whispering Shadows” by Jan-Philipp Sendker, published by Atria Books.

Category – Mystery/Thriller Publication Date – April 14, 2015

Like most of us, the main characters in this book have something hidden in their background that causes both internal and external strife. Strife, which will play a significant role in their lives, both good and bad. The novel takes place in China and uses the changes in Chinese culture, especially between the mainland and Hong Kong, to show how these changes effect
Jan 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Interesting mystery novel that also provides some insight into the current (and potentially long term) ramifications for China (culture, economy, development, etc.) of the violence carried out during the Cultural Revolution at the human level. For example: "In a very short time, buildings hundreds of years old that had borne witness to the past had disappeared in those cities [Chengdu, Chongqing, Shanghai, Wuhun]. Razed to the ground as though they had never existed [especially their historic ...more
Michael Skelton
Feb 07, 2018 rated it liked it
My wife and mother-in-law loved this book. I am giving it three stars because of several reasons. One, I am hard pressed to understand how Paul gets roped into a murder investigation after a five minute conversation at a diner on top of a mountain. Secondly, this whole book goes to great lengths to establish that Tang is a super powerful man, above law enforcement, but all of a sudden after one phone call, he is impisoned and all is well. Third of all, since the death of his son, Paul lives the ...more
Jun 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
The first 50 pages of this are a major downer-man loses child to cancer and withdraws from the world and you wonder why are you reading this. However, I'd read Sendker's first two books and knew what a good storyteller he is and how adept he is at drawing the reader into his world. And it happened again. It's got family secrets, guilt, and these elements are not only unique to the main character, Paul. Paul finds redemption once he emerges from his hermetic shell and there's a bit of a thriller ...more
Jan 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was quite different from Sendker's The Art of Hearing Heartbeats and its sequel, but the writing and pace were still perfect. The characters were very special, almost magical, as Sendker's characters tend to be. The story, part love story and murder mystery, is very interesting and moves well. It is set in Hong Kong and China and the reader is given some bonus history about the Cultural Revolution. I read this book in two days so I definitely recommend it.

I really enjoyed this book and
Kathe Coleman
Jun 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Whispering Shadows by Jan-Philipp Sendker
Part love story, part crime thriller. Paul Liebovitz’s young son dies tragically from leukemia and it throws his life into turmoil. Having lived in Hong Kong for thirty years he buys a house on Lamma, an island just a ferry boat ride from Hong Kong, where he has become a recluse. He has associated with almost no one except Christine, a Hong Kong–based single mother, and Zhang, a homicide detective in Shenzhen. Zhang also broken and is confronting the
May 25, 2015 rated it liked it
This is the first book by Sendker I've read, so I can't compare. I had a hard time slogging through the rather boring passages discussing contemporary Chinese culture and politics. And it's not the subject matter because I've enjoyed several non-fiction books about the subject. The mystery was okay, but not terribly interesting. It was the plot to a thriller, but missing all the action.

**I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.**
Jan 05, 2015 rated it liked it
I would probably give this 31/2 stars. The writing flowed, the story was interesting, & I was sorry when it ended. This is a modern take on China that has the past woven in through character interaction. You could feel the humidity, smell the scents, & feel the claustrophobic bustle. It was not high literature, but it was damn entertaining. I am most likely going to check out some more of Mr. Sendker's works. In fact I know I will.
May 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
No, I am sorry for writing this, but no, Jan-Philipp Sendker did not do it again.
I was like an obsessed maniac while I was reading his first two books. I could not stop until I have read them both.

This one? I had to force myself to end it. I didn't like the plot, there was no magic in the books (not the Harry Potter kind of magic, but the Art of hearing heartbeats magic),and the ending was lukewarm.

Nevertheless, I will always read everything he writes, no matter how lukewarm they might be.
Mar 31, 2015 rated it liked it
Though fictional, this was an eye opening read about what life in China can be like. Corruption, restrictions, and the remaining scars from the Cultural Revolution. This feels like a stand alone novel, which is good considering it's the first in a trilogy. I wonder what the next book will be about.
Apr 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to love this. Mostly because of how good The Art of Hearing Hearbeats was. And this IS so well written, but it just didn't connect with me. Some of the China stuff was interesting but I feel like you need to know quite a bit about the last 50 years of political goings on in China to really appreciate this book.
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
Hello, Fellow Book Worms and Book Dragons,

Occasionally in the past I have begun books and have not finished them for one reason or another. But when I began Whispering Shadows it was at the recommendation of a book seller that could not stop gushing about how amazing it was. Back then I was not reading as much, and the novel slipped into the recesses of my book pile never to be seen again. Now, three years later, I have picked up this novel and have finished it. Do I agree with that book
Kat Evans Hernandez
Dec 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It’s a crime thriller and showed what it would be like to live in Hong Kong and China. It's about a retired journalist in China trying to crack a murder case, as he battles his own demons and loss of his son. A great read. Definitely a page turner till the end!
Aug 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The storywriting seemed a bit conventional at first but that was a great voyage in too familiar China.
Makes you really want to live on Lamma away from it all! Great book: I'm going for the #2 Drachenspiele
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Paul Lebowitiz is trying to just exist in his quiet Hong Kong home, still attempting to process his son's death and subsequent divorce from three years ago. He barely interacts with his neighbors and society at large, an island in the midst of the crowds and populace of his adopted city of thirty years. An unexpected encounter with Elizabeth, a visiting American who is searching for her son Michael who was visiting for business. Suddenly Paul is sucked into the search for Michael which takes on ...more
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a surprisingly good read. I am not sure what I had in mind for it, but Jan-Philipp Sendker made this one really enjoyable. I love how most of this story was set in China and how we got to see some cultural things about that country.

Paul has been living in Hong Kong for 30 years and when he meets Elizabeth in her state of near collapse, he knows that he has a new mission that he is intent on solving. The murder, mystery and suspense will keep you flipping through the pages of this story
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Jan-Philipp Sendker, born in Hamburg in 1960, and, longing to travel the world, became the American correspondent for Stern from 1990 to 1995, and its Asian correspondent from 1995 to 1999. In 2000 he published Cracks in the Great Wall, a nonfiction book about China. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats is his first novel, and since then, he has written 3 further novels, including a sequel to "The Art of ...more

Other books in the series

The Rising Dragon (3 books)
  • The Language of Solitude
  • Am anderen Ende der Nacht (Die China-Trilogie, #3)