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The Interior

(Red Princess #2)

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  3,125 ratings  ·  277 reviews
In our world, two years have passed since the publication of Flower Net, Lisa See's debut in thriller fiction, but as The Interior begins, only a few months have passed since Liu Hulan, a detective in Communist China's Ministry of Public Security, and U.S. Attorney David Stark first teamed up to catch a murderer--and rekindled their old love affair. Now, as David struggles ...more
Paperback, 431 pages
Published 2000 by Arrow Books (first published 1999)
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Average rating 3.69  · 
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 ·  3,125 ratings  ·  277 reviews

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Jul 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: recentlyread
I have a theory that Lisa See packed all she wanted to say about modern China into her three detective novels about Inspector Liu Hulan, the "red princess" of the series title, then went back to the historical romances she prefers. And her detective writing was improving; the third one, Dragon Bones, is quite a bit better than this second one. She tells a good story, though she doesn't always tell it well. She is strongest when in the throes of a dialogue on legal niceties or political issues, w ...more
Sep 12, 2008 rated it it was ok
This is a classic "wish I could give half a star" book; 2.5 stars is what I want to give. See's work is an interesting combo -- fairly lousy dialogue and clunky exposition paired with good-enough plotting and a truly fascinating inside look at contemporary Chinese society. I loved reading the details of how people eat, travel, relate to each other so I just gritted my teeth through the awkward points (myriad).
Graham Crawford
Oct 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Lisa See is a pedestrian writer who has a lot of interesting things to say about late 20th Century China and social justice issues. For the most part I can forgive her lack of ability because 2/3 of this book is packed with well researched information - village life in the interior, factory exploitation, & surviving the Cultural Revolution. It's pretty obvious she wants to use the Crime novel genre to bring this world to a wider audience (and higher sales!). I just wish she could write fiction. ...more
Lauri Saplad
Nov 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Lisa See is wonderful, as always, with a well-researched and structured story. This one really gets to the heartland of China, exploring not only the culture and politics, but really seeing what life is like for the peasants & working class. It makes you explore your own Western morals and ideals at the same time. China is vast and will probably always seem mysterious and a little strange to us. The Interior gives us a glance into life there. ...more
Jan 06, 2020 rated it liked it
The best part of The Interior was the way See introduces the reader to the cultural traditions of Chinese recent history as it is played out in a cross cultural setting. This setting is the giant manufacturing industry in an isolated part of China which is portrayed as enriching the lives of young peasant female (especially) workers while ignoring the standards of safety expected of a foreign (American) concern.
The plot is convoluted and departs reality in its structure for me. But the contrast
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed this, even though I hadn't read the first book in the series. Of course, I had visited Taiyuan before. I like her description and the chance to talk about cultures, as well as a good story.
Aug 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Nicely plotted and well narrated. Like the 1st novel better but this held up.
Apr 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Two very different people are in love, torn between two different cultures and yet very much alike they struggle to make sense of what is going on around them.
biblio_mom (Aiza)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Editorial Reviews Review
In our world, two years have passed since the publication of Flower Net, Lisa See's debut in thriller fiction, but as The Interior begins, only a few months have passed since Liu Hulan, a detective in Communist China's Ministry of Public Security, and U.S. Attorney David Stark first teamed up to catch a murderer--and rekindled their old love affair. Now, as David struggles to find a way to get back to China--or convince Hulan to move to America--Hulan goes to th
Apr 29, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book, but the characters spent too much time speculating on the who, what, where, when, and why of the cases they were investigating. I wish they had spent more time on their relationships! This is the 2nd in the Red Princess series with Lawyer David Stark (U.S. Attorney's office) and Chinese investigator Liu Hulan (Ministry of Public Security). Hulan receives an urgent letter from an old friend, Suchee, of her Cultural Revolution days. It seems Suchee's daughter, Miaoshan has commi ...more
Sep 11, 2012 rated it liked it
A second mystery by the author of Snow Flower & the Secret Fan, Peony In Love, Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy, as well as my , Flower Net. In fact, this can be said to be the second in a series behind Flower Net, b/c it has the same main characters, Hulan (a Chinese investigator) and David (a US attorney). This time, Hulan, still in China, is expecting David’s baby and David, back in the States, is eager for a job opportunity that would bring him back to China. When his former boss and law par ...more
Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: chinese-fiction
Having read "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" several years ago, I was really looking forward to reading this book. Unfortunately, I was somewhat disappointed. The plot line drags and is very confusing at times. There is a lot of background information about Chinese life in the 21st century in both Beijing and the "Interior," where this book takes place - Shanxi Province to be specific. I found the information about American and Western firms setting up factories in the hinterlands of China inter ...more
Nov 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
David Stark, an attorney, is asked to open a law office in Beijing, China. Liu Hulan, David's lover, is asked by an old friend to investigate the death of her daughter. The daughter worked at an American owned toy factory that is about to be sold to David's client Tartan Enterprises. Hulan goes undercover at the toy factory. There she is forced to face her past, which she has long been avoiding. Hulan finds more questions than answers, all leading to David's client. The two lovers find themselve ...more
Jan 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
I found this book to be so incredibly boring. I liked Shanghai Girls so much and I kept thinking that The Interior HAD to get better. It didn't. Even the faster paced chapters where everything was coming to a resolution were boring. This makes me hesitant to read anything else from See other than Finding Joy (the sequel to SG). Disappointing!
Oct 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
I don't know why, but I just don't enjoy Lisa See's mystery novels as much as I enjoyed her historical fiction books. Which coming from me is bizarre as I don't particularly like historical fiction, but love mysteries! Still, I love getting lost in the Chinese culture and descriptions of the country.
May 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
A thrilling page-turner of a murder mystery with the added bonus of Chinese and American cultural clashes, with interesting insights into Chinese politics.
Oct 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Loved it!!! See other reviews on the Liu Hulan series. Excellent story line!
Sandi Dickenson
I am not sure why I wanted to torture myself with this second book in the red princess series. Perhaps it was to better understand China in today's world? Perhaps I was hoping to be drawn more into Hulan's character and find myself connecting with her?

I felt the author worked too hard presenting American law firms and manufacturing companies and the confusing politics between our two countries. I skimmed past much of the boringly laid out details in the first 25% and the last 10%. The first bein
Stef Rozitis
I liked this one a whole, whole lot better than the flower net, because it centred Hulan more and portrayed Stark as a bumbling incompetent mainly as soon as he is out of his white boys' club. Well I am oversimplifying but it wasn't all about him. I still felt irritated at their relationship but there were signs that even Hulan was a little bit ambivalent about it.

I had a love-hate relationship with all the contradictions in the book. Hulan's actions in the past, during the war are still troubli
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Liu Hulan is an investigator with China’s version of the FBI. Considered a “Red Princess”, she has more money and privilege beyond that of most Chinese citizens, but even so, she’s taking risks by having a white American for a lover and getting pregnant without a permit. Her lover, David Stark, is an American attorney who jumps at the chance to go into private practice when a firm offers him a posting in China and he can live with Hulan. This is following an attempt on his life and the shocking ...more
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
I listened to this audiobook. This is the second of three in the Red Princess series. I read all three, but out of order. I liked this one the best of the trilogy. Liu Hulan is a Red Princess - from the elite wealthy in China. David Stark is a U.S. attorney. Hulan attended college in the US where she met David. Hulan is a tough investigator for the Chinese equivalent of the FBI. David and Hulan are deeply in love, and Hulan is pregnant. But David is in Los Angeles and Hulan is in Beijing. Hulan ...more
Jun 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poll, 2020, mystery, china
The Interior is the second novel in Lisa See's Red Princess trilogy. The relationship between detective Liu Hulan and American attorney David Stark, is thriving, but the in depth look at China and the Chinese culture is the most prominent character.

Hulan works for the Ministry of Public Security which could be similar to an FBI agent for the government of China. She has been asked by a friend that she has not seen in twenty years to investigate the death of her daughter. The mother has been told
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
I like this series featuring Liu Hulan, a detective in Communist China's Ministry of Public Security, and U.S. Attorney David Stark whose love for each other keeps them linked over thousands of miles. The author builds a stark picture of China as it builds its economy on the backs of its people, particularly young women. This tale takes place largely in a toy factory where a murdered young woman worked before her death. Her death was staged as a suicide but her mother can't believe that her daug ...more
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
My first grown up book (which I read when I was 12) was The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck and I was fascinated by the description of life in China. Lisa See continues the in-depth look at China and it's people in her books and I have been enjoying her books
The Interior continues with the cases of detective Hulan who works with the Ministry of Public Security and though it is not a fast-paced potboiler I enjoyed the reading about the cultural, traditional and political details of modern day China.
Laura Beasley
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book . It was different from the other books I have read by this author. It was a mystery but it was good. The story takes place in china and just a little in the USA. Liu Hulan is an inspector in China and is pregnant by an American attorney named David. Hulan is contacted by a former friend that wants her to help find out what happened / who killed her daughter. David takes a job back in China and find that his new job and Hulan's search are leading them to conflict. Liu goes to ...more
Jun 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: asian-lit
This was an enjoyable read, a nice mystery, convoluted but understandable....My only wish in this series, I have read Flower Net and The Interior is that the American lawyer David Whatever, disappear and the the author concentrate on Liu Hulan. I find the American lawyer painstakingly boring and not too bright and hung up on al sorts of external and internal rules that do not always make sense. Liu Hulan is a much better drawn character with much more depth and real insight into people and peopl ...more
May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, asia
I love the cultural aspects of Lisa See's books. This story focuses on factory laborers in China and the exploitation that happens. I breezed through this book and had trouble putting it down at night. My deduction of one star is for the ending. The explanation and unmasking took way too long. It actually took so long that I had trouble understanding all of the pieces. I'm looking forward to reading the final book in the series.
Lorraine McCleary
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
The second in the Red Princess series. Hulan is pregnant in China and goes back to Red Soil Farm she worked as a youth in Mao's China to help a peasant friend find her daughter's killer. An American toy company is there and has shady employee relationships, similar to our early century factories with child labor, poor conditions, and even a fire that traps the women inside. I find the Communist Chinese political play within the murder investigation skillfully protrayed.
Julianne Ota
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Lisa See is, in my opinion, an excellent writer and I have immensely enjoyed all her books that I have read thus far. I did not know, prior to reading this book, that she wrote mystery novels as well. This book is a mystery, with the heroine being a mainland Chinese law enforcement officer who is asked to look into the supposed suicide of a childhood friend's daughter. It's a great read and because I have been to and studied China, it was particularly interesting to me. I highly recommend it.
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Play Book Tag: The interior by Lisa See 3 stars 1 12 Feb 24, 2017 06:40AM  
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Lisa See is a Chinese-American author. Her books include Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2005), Dragon Bones, and On Gold Mountain. She was named the 2001 National Woman of the Year, by the Organization of Chinese American Women. She lives in Los Angeles.

Other books in the series

Red Princess (3 books)
  • Flower Net (Red Princess, #1)
  • Dragon Bones (Red Princess, #3)

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