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

(A Mei Wang Mystery #2)

3.27  ·  Rating details ·  402 ratings  ·  74 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 ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 5th 2009 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 2008)
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Average rating 3.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  402 ratings  ·  74 reviews

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Amalia Gavea
‘’This land offered nothing but harsh wind and dry yellow earth. Under the dome of the sky, snow-peaked mountains stood like unwanted burdens of the past. This was the province where the Great Wall ended, where the Silk Road had passed through. Both had lain forgotten for the last thousand years.’’

Mei is a private investigator in Beijing. The problem is that this is illegal. The State does not allow private investigations and people like Mei have to hide behind terms and conditions and threats
Jul 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 23, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Apr 23, 2013 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Jul 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Mei Wang is less a protagonist than a witness to history this time out. And the case she's working on serves as the reason to consider the real story: June 4, 1989 in Tiananmen Square and the aftermath.
Inge (Inge1990)
I actually do not know about this book. It is not a bad book, but it takes a really long time to actually get started, and then in the end, everything is resolved in like 5 pages without any clue how...

It is a mystery where Mei is helping a record label because one of there stars goes missing. In the last 15 pages, a child gets kidnapped, the mystery of paper butterfly's is resolved, the missing of the pop star gets resolved. So it is not that you have a slow going with clues, rather just 2
Jill Schrupp
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
This was an OK read, I would say it was terrible and I couldn't wait to be finished but I wouldn't say run out and read it either. The storyline was a little flat and the ending was disappointing. Story never seemed to really take off and with the exception of a couple characters there was no real getting to know the story behind the people which I think is needed for a good story. This book will go into the donation pile.
Mary Lautner
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Mei Wang navigates her way through the current culture of Beijing. She has been asked to find a rock star who has gone missing. Through her persistence to find out what happened, she encounters very caring people who often have endured years of hardship. But what she seems to uncover most are duplicitous, greedy people who will even sell out their closest friend to get ahead. An interesting mystery as it draws the reader into the culture of struggle that describes so much of this China.
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not a great detective story as such but a most enjoyable read, with lots on information on past and present China. I found this book better than the first one of the series and look forward to reading the next one.
May 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I didn't realize this was the 2nd in a series until after I listened to the book. The main character mixes traditional Asian sensibilities with modern problem solving, even putting herself at risk in some ways. I am intrigued enough to pursue the 1st book in the series.
Chris Leuchtenburg
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
Harmless but thin, without as much sense of place as The Eye of the Jade. Very short, only 123 numbered pages, but even some of those were blank -- barely 200 pages. Still, it does give some sense of life in Beijing and the bitter legacy of Tienanmen Square.
Apr 13, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: unfinished
Couldn't get in to this one. Stopped after about 50 pages because it just wasn't keeping me engaged.
Rogue Reader
Mar 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-china
Recovering from the cultural revolution and then plunged into the madness of Tienanmen - guilt and loss. Nice insight into the period, the people and a growing modernized city.
Oct 29, 2016 rated it liked it
3 stars ...more
June Ahern
Sep 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Betsy Ash
Apr 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Improved writing from the first book, this time nearly deserves a 3 star rating. It shares with the first book a uniquely authentic look at modern day China from the perspective of the Tiananmen Square generation.
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
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
Elaine Wong
Sep 15, 2015 rated it liked it
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
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
Jan 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Susan Chow-Dukhan
Sep 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Mei Wang is a female private detective in China. She's hired by a record company to find a missing singer. What was enjoyable about the novel was that Mei is presented as a normal person. There's no unique powers of observation or affectionate idiosyncrasies shown to the reader, to make you like her better. She's a compassionate, emotional individual who uses common sense, networking of old friends/acquaintances and following her gut feelings to bring the story to a conclusion. An added bonus is ...more
Randall Pratt
Aug 10, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 06, 2010 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.
Yana Stajno
Jan 03, 2016 rated it liked it
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.
Zen Cho
Feb 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
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!
Jun 26, 2011 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.
Jul 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 12, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
Ann Tonks
Apr 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: china
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.
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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

Other books in the series

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