Here's the first mini-review for books I read during the #ReadThemAllThon! Unfortunately I move in a week, so it's unlikely I'll be able to get to the rest of the books planned :( Poor Bulbasaur, I tried!
Star Rating: * 1/5 Stars
Author: Qiu Xiaolong
Review by Silicon
Chief Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Department is offered a bit of luxury by friends and supporters within the Party – a week’s vacation at a luxurious resort near Lake Tai, a week where he can relax, and recover, undisturbed by outside demands or disruptions. Unfortunately, the once beautiful Lake Tai, renowned for its clear waters, is now covered by fetid algae, its waters polluted by toxic runoff from local manufacturing plants. Then the director of one of the manufacturing plants responsible for the pollution is murdered and the leader of the local ecological group is the primary suspect of the local police. Now Inspector Chen must tread carefully if he is to uncover the truth behind the brutal murder and find a measure of justice for both the victim and the accused.
Ah sexism, we meet again ... I didn't like this book.
Let's talk about the good first.
This is an #ownvoices diverse mystery book set in Wuxi, China. It is very immersive in Chinese culture. There's no Westerners, no suggestion of "white dude saves everyone" (WOOHOO), it has amazing food descriptions that made me really hungry, and I liked seeing the city through the eyes of Inspector Chen.
Now the bad.
The mystery sucked. From the start of the book, I was wondering "why didn't they ask X?", and, well, X was the murderer. I'm horrible at figuring out mysteries, so it was a disappointment that my first guess was indeed correct (I get Miss Fisher mysteries wrong fairly regularly. I'm pretty bad).
The book is rather obviously focused at a non-Chinese audience--which is not necessarily a bad thing, but definitely took me out of the story a few times. It has a lot of extremely simplified explanations for things, for example:
"You haven't eaten, have you, Chen?"I personally disliked the abundance of poetry snippets. I want my clues, dammit!
It was a conventional greeting Chinese people made when running into each other on the street.
And oh, the sexism. Put on your flame-retardant lab coat, I am going to set something on fire.
The book features one female character, Shanshan, who is--SURPRISE--young, beautiful, intelligent, kind, caring, nurturing, and THE LOVE INTEREST. She's a fucking FLING for Inspector Chen! She's also a suspect. NO. JUST NO. I was SO pissed at this development. They go on dates! Pour out their deepest thoughts to each other! Instantly fall in love! She sees him as her protector! ARGH.
Really really mad because this woman is a fucking ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEER. She works at the company whose CEO is murdered. She is a LEGITIMATE SUSPECT and probably had HELLA CLUES (not to mention: FUCKING INTELLIGENT and RESILIENT) but dude was waaaay more concerned with how pretty and understanding she was than asking for her expertise--which he does, but really more because he wanted to take her on a date. So. Pissed.
The only reason I finished this book was to see if Shanshan was playing Chen all along in a masterful game of manipulation. Sadly, no.