- Taschenbuch: 463 Seiten
- Verlag: Sceptre (27. Februar 2006)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0340897511
- ISBN-13: 978-0340897515
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 11,4 x 3,1 x 17,8 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4 Kundenrezensionen
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 1.261.775 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
Death of a Red Heroine. (Inspector Chen Cao) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 27. Februar 2006
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By any standard, Inspector Chen Cao is a novelty in the world of police procedurals. A published poet and translator of American and English mystery novels, he has been assigned by the Chinese government, under Deng Xiaoping's cadre policy, to a "productive" job with the Special Cases Bureau of the Shanghai Police Department.
Shanghai in the mid-1990s is a city caught between reverence for the past and fascination with a tantalizing, market-driven present. When the body of a young "national model worker," revered for her adherence to the principles of the Communist Party, turns up in a canal, Chen is thrown into the midst of these opposing forces. As he struggles to unravel the hidden threads of this paragon's life, he finds himself challenging the very political forces that have guided his life since birth. With party-line-spouting superiors above him and detectives who resent his quick promotion beneath him, Chen finds himself wondering whether justice is a concept at all meaningful in late-20th-century China.
Death of a Red Heroine is a book hovering uneasily between the spheres of fiction and fact, creativity and didacticism. For much of the novel, author Qiu Xiaolong seems more intent on driving home the actions and consequences of the Cultural Revolution and its aftermath than on the slowly unfolding plot. Tedious repetitions of the fates, under Mao, of "educated youths" joust with both the actions of the detectives and Chen's "poetic" ruminations, which, unfortunately, are infected by precisely the stiffness and arbitrariness Qiu is at pains to decry in his historical passages. The moving couplets Chen favors are potentially fascinating insights into the interaction between ancient and modern China, but instead of provoking the reader into reflection, Qiu offers reductive explanations of each and every poem.
The moments when Qiu concentrates on invoking atmosphere are both illuminating and rewarding: Detective Yu's wife's pride and pleasure in having brought home a dozen crabs at "state price" are movingly well crafted, all the more so because Qiu seems almost unaware of what he is doing. Rather than lecturing on the economic dilemmas of the modern worker, he lets Peiqin's simple happiness speak for itself. In the last quarter of the book, Qiu seems to find his stride, though his writing style remains undeniably awkward. Here Chen expands and relaxes, and with him, the novel. Qiu's debut, though anything but polished, holds the promise of better things to come. --Kelly Flynn -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Taschenbuch.
Xiaolong's astute rendering of the many contradictions of contemporary Chinese life centres on the brilliant Inspector Chen ... A series that might well get you hooked. Sunday Telegraph Atmospheric and rich in behind the scenes detail ... Morse of the Far East. Independent Chen is a great creation, an honourable man in a world full of deception and treachery. Guardian With strong and subtle characterisation, Qiu Xiaolong draws us into a fascinating world where the greatest mystery revealed is the mystery of present-day China itself. -- John Harvey The first police whodunnit written by a Chinese author in English and set in contemporary China ... its quality matches its novelty. The Times The usual enjoyable mix of murder, poetry and contradictions of contemporary Chinese culture. Chen is a splendid creation. Independent on Sunday A vivid portrait of modern Chinese society ... full of the sights, sounds and smells of Shanghai ... A work of real distinction. Wall Street Journal Qiu Xiaolong is one of the brightest stars in the firmament of modern literary crime fiction. His Inspector Chen mysteries dazzle as they entertain, combining crime with Chinese philosophy, poetry and food, Triad gangsters and corrupt officials. Canberra Times, Australia Gripping ... Chen stands in a class with Martin Cruz Smith's Russian investigator, Arkady Renko, and P.D. James's Scotland Yard inspector, Adam Dalgliesh. Publishers Weekly Wonderful. Washington PostAlle Produktbeschreibungen
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The author wove all these complexities together craftily, juxtaposing the poetic, the existentialistic, and the Kafkaesque. But the lengthy and too frequent quotes of Chinese classical poems can be a little bit contrive and sometimes hinder the flow of the narrative.
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I like to read detective stories in order to understand other places and times - travelogue with attitude. Detective stories incorporate the concept of 'what is crime?' in any particular place, together with the observation of what is out of the ordinary (as clues). As such they detail the mundane and the extraordinary, the normal and the criminal. The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith is another example of what I mean.
Qiu is first and foremost a poet, and a very good one. He describes Shanghai as a feeling rather than with any kind of cinematic acuity. We are present in the moment whether at a roadside food stall, in a grimy dormitory, in the hero's apartment or visiting Guangzhou. The impressions we get are somewhat myopic, crowded by passersby, in a flood of emotions, senses and literary allusions. Those who like TS Eliot in particular will note numerous quotations but as our guide to Chinese literature Qiu also has plenty of Chinese poets to draw on as well. His English is excellent, neither sparse nor lush, but honest, insightful and unobtrusive, except when he lets fall little pearls like:
‘“A family sampan, the couple working in the cabin,” he said, ”and living there too.”
“A torn sail married to a broken oar,” she said, still chewing gum.
A bubble of metaphor iridescent in the sun.’
Nor is the literary critic far away
‘Any reading, according to Derrida could be a misreading. Even Chief Inspector Chen could be read in one way or another.’ Cautioning the reader, and perhaps the censor back in China?
Qiu's strength as a novelist is his characters. Perversely, the weakest of them all is Chief Inspector Chen, the main character. While Chen Cao seems to be good looking, intelligent and generally heroic, he dislikes nothing and seems to be infinitely patient. He is (most dubiously for any law enforcement officer) of a literary bent having written poetry and a thesis on TS Eliot. But compared to tough, straightforward, Sergeant Yu; playful Wang Feng, Overseas Chinese Lu, the victim, or the villain, he is bland. Like rice in a meal of strong flavours.
Qiu is also something of a gourmand. From the opening chapters to the last his descriptions of food are abundant and generous. Yet while his dishes are many and vaied there is something of a tinge of nostalgia more than anything else about them. He recalls flavours greedily but without a reference point so we are soon lost in a long Chinese menu.
The development of the story is somewhat broken and uneven too. While the initial slow development of the criminal case is a relief from the breakneck pace of written-for-tv thrillers, and the practical difficulties of policing when transport is a corporate bus pass are refreshing, the real problem is Qiu’s women. They don’t make a lot of sense. The victim sort of makes sense but it’s Chen’s love interests who ultimately prove pivotal to the case who are simply too convenient.
Death of a Red Herione is a fine debut novel, and one I heartily recommend. It smells of Shanghai and provides insights into China and her culture. But in the classic sense of a detective story its conclusion seems contrived like a longer story brought to an abrupt end. Or perhaps that was because I was enjoying it so much I could have happily read it for longer.
Qiu Xiaolong leaves the reader wondering as much as the chief protagonist in this story about politics and crime and how, despite the changes happening in China (the book is written in the 1990s), nothing much changes.
I could say that the dialog was stilted — it was — and its surprising that the main character isn't more politically saavy at his age and position, but otherwise, an interesting read.