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Book #006 - White Death by Daniel Blake.

Read: 18/01/2013 - 21/01/2013.

The heart-stopping new thriller featuring FBI Special Agent Frank Patrese, on the trail of a crazed serial killer targeting Ivy League colleges.

Two weeks before Kwasi King, chess’s answer to Muhammad Ali, is due to defend his world title, his mother is found brutally murdered yards from Yale University. A tarot card has been left next to her dismembered body.

Soon, more bodies turn up at other Ivy League colleges, all with tarot cards. But while some have been killed in a frenzy, others were dispatched with clinical precision. It looks like FBI Special Agent Franco Patrese’s looking for not just one killer, but two.

And while Patrese hunts, he knows that he too is being hunted, for he’s received his own tarot card. The Fool. Could he be the next victim of this macabre intellectual battle?

My two cents:
This was one of those impulse buy sort of books on my travels as the premise behind White Death from the blurb on the back peaked my interest. I wasn't disappointed in this engaging murder mystery involving Tarot cards and a story revolving around the theme of chess. It was always interesting with the Tarot card angle and FBI agent Franco Patrese was a fairly likable protagonist fighting against his own assigned card, "The Fool," and a complex game where nothing is what it seems.

Though I came to a correct assumption quite early on as to who was responsible for the murders, it's the journey through the intellectual battle between Patrese and the the killer that makes it a really good read.

Book #007 - A Case of Two Cities by Qiu Xiaolong.

Read: 21/01/2013.

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 those responsible and act as necessary to end the corruption ring. In a twisting case that takes him from Shanghai, all the way to the U.S., reuniting him with his previous cohort from the U.S. Marshall's service - Inspector Catherine Rhon.
At once a compelling crime novel and a insightful, moving portrayal of everyday life, The Emperor's Sword is the next installment in the critically acclaimed, award-wining Inspector Chen series.

My two cents:
As someone who loves the Inspector Chen mysteries, I will openly admit that A Case of Two Cities is perhaps the least satisfying in my humble opinion. I personally enjoyed this far more as a book signalling a turning point in Chen Cao's career, particularly with regards to how the story ends. Without giving anything away, it left me thoughtful, though it did help bridge the gap between this book and the fifth one. The basis of the plot is simple enough and there are some wonderful moments (the fortune telling scene and the references to "Romance of the Three Kingdom,") however I felt like I understood partly what Chen Cao felt by the end. Without giving anything away, I was left thoughtful and confused, suffering from the tentacles of corruption that touched EVERYTHING.

It does, however, help bridge the gap between the fourth and fifth book, hence why it works better as a Bridge Book, giving some background to the decisions and inner turmoil felt by Chen in Red Mandarin Dress.

Qiu Xiaolong's books share similar themes with regards to Inspector Chen and the fourth book in the series is no different. It's all about corruption, something that our poetry loving detective is sent to investigate. That's another thing that I will always enjoy about Inspector Chen novels, the frequent poetry quotations

Though each book is still unique even if it often focuses on the theme of corruption, they are still enjoyable to read if you enjoy crime fiction set in a China going through change in our modern world. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed A Case of Two Cities and it's worth reading if you've already dived into Chen Cao's world and want something more.


Silly Kotetsu

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