Enigma of China is the eighth novel starring Chief Inspector Chen Cao, the Shanghai investigator who wanted to be a poet as a youth but was assigned by Communist officials to the police squad. It begins with Zhou Keng, the corrupt head of the Shanghai Housing Development Committee, found dead in his hotel room. The Communist Party quickly determines Zhou's death was a suicide, and Chen is expected to sign off on that--instead, he and his colleague Inspector Wei begin a quiet investigation.
Nothing much is uncovered until a beautiful young reporter brings Chen some enlightening information, and Wei is the victim of a hit and run. Wei's death confirms Chen's suspicions about Zhou, and he and the reporter start poking further into Zhou's secrets. But those secrets reflect badly on the Party, and the Party's image must be maintained at all costs. The lie of equality, in the face of the obvious extravagance of top Party officials, is preposterous, but Chen is expected to uphold it. And certain Party officials emphatically disapprove of Chen's recalcitrance about the investigation.
Chen's poetical musings about the world around him add a philosophical bent to this look at death and corruption in modern China. Qui Xioalong brings the suspicious nature of the Communist state to vivid life, clearly showing how much control the government holds over the Internet and every aspect of Chinese life. Fans of introspective mysteries won't want to miss Enigma of China. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm