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A Case of Two Cities (Inspector Chen Cao #4)
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A Case of Two Cities (Inspector Chen Cao #4)

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  1,022 Ratings  ·  95 Reviews
Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Bureau is summoned by an official of the party to take the lead in a corruption investigation—one where the principle figure and his family have long since fled to the United States and beyond the reach of the Chinese government. But he left behind the organization and his partners-in-crime, and Inspector Chen is charged to uncover ...more
Hardcover, 307 pages
Published November 28th 2006 by Minotaur Books (first published 2006)
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Aug 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
This was my least favorite in the series so far. It's not bad-- in fact, it gets off to a good start exploring corruption among the "high cadres" of The People's Republic, just like the first novel in the series Death of a Red Heroine. But this case has two many murders, with victims and killers we barely get to know. We also get barely a glimpse of several recurring characters. Inspector Chen Cao's trip to the U.S. with a writers' delegation is not very convincing, despite the fact that the aut ...more
A Case of Two Cities has all the steamy stuff of a thriller: a tip-off about a scandal in the back rooms of a karaoke centre, a dead high-level detective in a compromising situation, and a strange cover-up coming from top-level Internal Security. Throw in the fact that this is 1990s China, and you know that political shenanigans are abrewing.

In Qiu's fourth novel, Chief Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Buereau is assigned to investigate the corruption case of a high official, Xing Xing, who ha
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Golly I hate to say this, but I was disappointed. Four novels into the Chen Cao chronicles, I guess it's normal that the author should lose a bit of headway. The case looked promising: an older, respected cop is found dead in a fancy brothel, and Internal Security gets a "confession" from the terrified young prostitute far too quickly. What's up? Well, you won't find out here. This intriguing case gets lost as Chen is shuffled off to the US to head a delegation of Chinese writers who are to trav ...more
Sep 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: T.S. Eliot fans, those interested in modern China
This one's a page-turner, with the added bonus of a marvelous parody of T. S. Eliot's "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." The two cities in question are Shanghai and St. Louis, although there's a stop in L.A. along the way. Chen is investigating corruption in China and naturally those in high places are ready to protect themselves and their cronies. When Chen's investigation stirs them up, he is ordered to take two weeks off and lead a delegation of poets to a conference in the USA, where the sub ...more
Lisa Brunette
Oct 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I recently reconnected with Qui Xiaolong after stumbling upon this book in a seaside bookstore. He and I worked together in the English department at St. Louis Community College in the 1990s, and I served as a "BETA reader" for his first book, Death of a Red Heroine, before that became a thing to do. As with that book, I appreciate very much the meshing of poetry and mystery in this one, which is unique in the crime genre. While A Case of Two Cities isn't a plot-driven page-turner, that's not wh ...more
Jun 30, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: readin2007
Enjoyed this Inspector Chen book, though not quite as much as the previous three in the series...perhaps I should have taken more of a break between them, but I felt compelled to get the next one and then to finish it. I do highly recommend the series though; very enjoyable. Also, as a side note, great little descriptions of meals throughout, making me crave Chinese food, especially dumplings...
Alice Lippart
Read until around 100 pages, and just wasn't feeling it. Didn't feel any connection to the main character, though that's probably because it's not the first one in the series with the same main character.
I'm still digging Chen Cao, the poetry-writing, English-translating, politically savvy Shanghai detective in this, the fourth in a series (and fifth I've read), but as is often the case with long-running series, the engine is beginning to sputter a bit. Author Qiu is quite adept at weaving elements of the overall story, including Chen's love interests, into a specific case that must be solved. Here, Chen is forced to pursue yet another politically sensitive case in the U.S. because the party for ...more
I liked this book least of all in the series so far, perhaps because of the details of the case under investigation. It's logical that considering Chen's success he would be assigned to investigate corruption and the webs of influence higher up in government and industry at some point, but considering that I couldn't imagine any way it could turn out well for him, it made for a tense read. In addition, the exposition was clunky - like bad TV dialogue in some places: "Well, Jim, you'll remember h ...more
Tito Quiling, Jr.
May 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-suspense
When I read the "An Inspector Chen Novel" print on the cover, I had a sense of apprehension to start reading the book because I might not be able to catch up with the narrative, if this was the nth book in the series. Turns out Inspector Chen's life as a detective/writer proved to be an interesting read.

A Case of Two Cities(2006) by Qiu Xiaolong also depicts the prevalence of corruption in China after the Cultural Revolution. From Shanghai to St. Louis, Inspector Chen is badgered with informati
Timons Esaias
Okay, so I'm only ten years behind on this series. That's actually pretty good for me. And I strongly recommend this series, following the adventures of Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Department, who investigates murders when he's not translating American detective novels for spending money, and writing poetry for poetry's sake. This story is set "in the 90s" in Shanghai.

The title of this volume is a bit of a tease. There's a case that involves Beijing and Shanghai in the early pages;
Nov 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Bureau is a different kind of police officer. He studied poetry at University before being assigned to the police force by the Communist Party on his graduation. He is a very thorough and competent officer who uses a blend of police techniques and connections to solve his case. He also must always take into consideration any political impacts from his investigations as there is a Communist Party member in the police station who monitors everything that h ...more
May 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
I like Qiu Xiaolong’s books. One thing he does is intersperse prose with Chinese sensibilities through frequent poetry quotations. Even though an ex pat from China, he conveys Chinese values and culture in an affectionate manner. One of the great parts of this novel is when a delegation of Chinese poets are in LA for a conference, and their view of US culture, i.e. only valuing Chinese writer who are dissidents or not having tea water. Our protagonist Inspector Chen is assigned to undercover cor ...more
Gary Van Cott
Sep 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is the first one of these books that actually might make a good movie. There was some action, certainly more than the previous book. Sometimes I think they need a bit more editing. I presume the author is writing in English (not his native language). There are occasional sentences that don't make much sense. Some of the book is set in St Louis where he currently lives but the middle part is in Los Angeles. He describes an old friend of Chen as living in a new brick house. That is highly unl ...more
Sep 23, 2007 rated it liked it
The book, one of a series of related detective stories, makes interesting reading. The story takes place in modern China against a background of China's changing economic and government. I chose the book because of the author. The story takes place in China and the USA. The main character, a police inspector from Shanghai, in addition to being a competent english speaking policeman and loyal party member, is also a poet, published author, and holder of a degree in Western Literature. One of his ...more
Jonathan Peto
Aug 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Inspector Chen is a poet as well as a member of the Shanghai Police Department. He also supplements his meager income as a police officer in China by translating mystery books. The book includes digressions about poetry, which Chen quotes at times, and Chen's knowledge of Chinese literature informs his approach to the job. Though liberal, he is a member of the Chinese Communist party and I enjoyed how that influenced the narrative. If you insist on a fast pace and skim parts of books without con ...more
Elizabeth Hunter
Aug 06, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery, aoc
This was interesting--a mystery novel translated from Chinese and set partly in China, partly in the US. The main character is the kind of polyglot that seems implausible--a poet, policeman and Party cadre drawing from all his resources in an attempt to expose corruption and solve a couple of murders along the way. The inside look at modern day Shanghai is fascinating, but the corruption case is rather abruptly shelved with only one of the many questions it raises answered and no murderer identi ...more
Aug 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Beijing assigns detective, translator, and poet Chen Cao of the Shanghai police the task of investigating the case of Xing, who has amassed a fortune while corrupting various party officials and absconded to the U.S. The detective has no sooner begun his investigation than he is told to lead a delegation of writers to the U.S. for a cultural exchange. As an honest detective Chen, as well as his partner Yu, are at risk not only from the bad guys but from members of their own government who may be ...more
Jul 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
I haven't completed this yet, but two things stand clear: 1) the world of Chinese hierarchical politics is both treacherous and yet familiar to that of the Western hemisphere; 2) the literati of the U.S. suffer, in a subtle but increasingly relevant way, by remaining ignorant of the breadth of classical Chinese literature. The first few chapters are partly an indulgent recitation of seminal novels and operas that the characters love referring to, almost as a sort of second language to color and ...more
I read the first three volumes of this series last year, but then was hit by crime fiction fatigue. I picked this up yesterday and finished it this morning - it's definitely a page-turner. I have to say, though, I didn't like Chen as much as I think I liked him last year. And there definitely wasn't enough of Yu and his wife in this novel.

In this book, Chen is tasked with uncovering a corruption case. And of course since corruption seldom is restricted to a small group of people, I expected the
Ralph Britton
Dec 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I was disappointed in this novel - I very much enjoyed his first, but this one, though interesting, is laboured and heavy. It is inartistic to have Chinese characters explaining things to each other that they obviously know - such as the problem of corruption - for the benefit of a supposed ignorant western audience. The romance between Chen and the American policewoman is feeble too - and the constant quotes from Chinese poetry begin to pall. I wonder whether residence in America has made Qiu X ...more
Inspector Chen goes to the US and finds that politic is all the same everywhere. Or something like that. This is the weakest of the Qiu's Inspector Chen series I've read so far.

The plot is entirely focused on the corruption of the Chinese political class, the Red Rats, their influence, the way they steal money and flee the country. Chen is given the mandate to find the corrupted and to bring them to justice but he finds that it's all a mascarade in the end. The whole US trip is only a diversion
Oct 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Liked this one well enough. It was one of those books where you're reading and it doesn't seem close to a resolution even though you clearly have only 50 pages to go, then suddenly stuff wraps up. Not sure if some of the unresolved elements (and there are some big ones, at least for me) in this one get picked up again later. Still, as always, great fun to read. And Qiu brings Chen to St. Louis, where he lives and works. In fact, Chen visits the bookstore, or at least a fictionalized version of i ...more
Note to self: only read this author after a hearty meal. the description of the meals makes one feel really hungry. And they keep meeting at restaurants.
a chinese crime novel interspersed with chinese peotry (inspector chen, the hero, is a poet).
interesting view of corruption in modern china.
only one thing bugs me: how could the police get transcripts from those phone conversations? Ok, maybe An's land line and her cell phone was monitored already, but the guy who buys a pre-paid cell phone in t
May 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Der vierte Fall des Oberinspektors Chen aus Shanghai lebt wie seine Vorgänger nicht vom (wenig aufregenden) Krimi-Plot, sondern von seiner wirklich interessanten Atmosphäre. Man meint die immer noch enge Verquickung von Partei und Gesellschaft im China des neu entdeckten Kapitalismus erst zu erkennen. Die "roten Ratten" sind korrupte Parteikader, auf deren Jagd sich Chen begibt, obwohl er lieber T.S.Eliot lesen und eigene Gedichte schreiben würde... Interessant und atmosphärisch dicht, aber nich ...more
Aug 21, 2015 rated it it was ok
This story was less captivating than the previous ones in the series. I think the part of the story that takes place in the US actually stunts the read because it seems that the author has less of a rich appreciation of mid90s US than he does mid 90s China and it is the rich descriptions of Chinese life and culture and the changes occurring which are always the second protagonist after Chen. I will continue to read the series on the strength of the two previous books in this series but I am hopi ...more
Nov 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: library, borrowed, mystery
I really liked the beginning of this book when it was set in China more than when it moved to America. I wonder if that had to do with my general unfamiliarly with the working of Chinese bureaucracy and police work and me being very familiar with American police work. I do feel like the pacing definitely became less to my liking as we moved into the middle half of the book. The style of conversation definitely changed and I found it to be a bit less interesting. But ultimately it's a good book. ...more
Tommi Mannila
Dec 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rikos-dekkarit
Ylikomisario Chen joutuu kesken tärkeän korruptiotutkinnan Kiinan kirjallisuusliiton delegaation johtoon ja joutuu kahden viikon matkalle yhdysvaltoihin. Mikään ei kuitenkaan oikein tunnu näyttävän siltä miltä ne aluksi näyttivät ja vaikuttaa myös että tutkinta voi johtaa joko Chenin tai jonkun hänen apulaisensa kohtaloksi.

Neljäs osa Qiu Xiaolongin dekkarisarjaa on, ainakin minun mielestäni, lähes samaa tasoa sarjan toisen osan kanssa ja ansaitsee täten neljä tähteä. Kirja on moniulotteinen ja l
Ed Mestre
This is the fourth in the Chief Inspector Chao series and like the other three I've read it has all the elements that make them so enjoyable and enlightening; the characters, their delight in the food all around them in Shanghai, poetry floating through the mind & heart even in the middle of a police investigation, and insights into the Byzantine world of the oxymoron that is the Capitalistic Communism of China today. I must say though, that this one didn't get going for me until about half ...more
Feb 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
This is my second time through this series. Mostly set in Shanghai (with this one detouring to the US.) I recall thinking this was not the strongest of the set and I found myself reaching the same conclusion. It is still quite good, though. And as I now have a stronger understanding of historical context (both behind it, as in the Cultural Revolution) and ahead of it (as in modern China/Shanghai) I think it is even more interesting than it was. Strongly atmospheric. A fascination portrait of a s ...more
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Qiu Xiaolong (裘小龙) was born in Shanghai, China. He is the author of the award-winning Inspector Chen series of mystery novels, Death of a Red Heroine (2000), A Loyal Character Dancer (2002), When Red Is Black (2004), A Case of Two Cities (2006), Red Mandarin Dress (2007), and The Mao Case (2009). He is also the author of two books of poetry translations, Treasury of Chinese Love Poems (2003) and E ...more
More about Qiu Xiaolong...

Other Books in the Series

Inspector Chen Cao (10 books)
  • Death of a Red Heroine (Inspector Chen Cao #1)
  • A Loyal Character Dancer (Inspector Chen Cao #2)
  • When Red Is Black (Inspector Chen Cao #3)
  • Red Mandarin Dress (Inspector Chen Cao #5)
  • The Mao Case (Inspector Chen Cao #6)
  • Don't Cry, Tai Lake (Inspector Chen Cao #7)
  • Enigma of China (Inspector Chen Cao #8)
  • Shanghai Redemption (Inspector Chen Cao #9)
  • Il était une fois l'inspecteur Chen

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