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Thief of Souls: An Inspector Lu Fei Mystery…

Thief of Souls: An Inspector Lu Fei Mystery (Inspector Lu Fei Series, 1) (utgåvan 2021)

av Brian Klingborg (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
3012636,632 (3.94)1
Titel:Thief of Souls: An Inspector Lu Fei Mystery (Inspector Lu Fei Series, 1)
Författare:Brian Klingborg (Författare)
Info:Minotaur Books (2021), 288 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek


Thief of Souls: An Inspector Lu Fei Mystery (Inspector Lu Fei Mysteries) av Brian Klingborg


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“Thief of Souls” opens on Saturday, and a quote from Chairman Mao Zedong sets the tone as each new day begins. Readers learn everything they need to know in the first sentence.

“On the night the young woman’s corpse is discovered, hollowed out like a birch bark canoe, Inspector Lu Fei sits alone in the Red Lotus bar, determined to get gloriously drunk.”

The grammar and present tense construction create a sense of immediate action, of conscious time, of being in the moment evolving along with the plot. The week and a half that follows are filled with a slow deliberate investigation, increasing in intensity till the frantic dramatic end.
It is exceedingly cold in Heilongjiang in January. Chinese citizens regard The Public Security Bureau, the institution of law enforcement in the People’s Republic, as equivalent to a pit of quicksand. However, solving crimes and catching criminals is part of the job, and there has been a murder. This death has very unusual aspects that point to something very sinister, more than just any “ordinary” murder. Her heart is missing.

The investigation is organized and methodical with a mixture of traditional procedures and modern technology. As one might expect, there is also some degree of politics involved. However, the rules of investigation are different in China. There is no right to remain silent and a lawyer is not required to present during police questioning. As a result, threats (such as going down to the station to let the sergeant here pry off a few toenails) are used to encourage the “sharing “of information.

“Thief of Souls” is compelling and surprising; it provides an insight into the rapidly evolving modern Chinese society. The strategies, people, and atmosphere are all unique; however, the goal is the same as in any crime fiction-- solve the terrible crime. I received a review copy of “Thief of Souls” from Brian Klingborg, St. Martin’s Press, and Minotaur books. This has everything a reader expects in a great mystery – unexplained murders, complex situations, a dedicated investigator, a little light hearted humor, and a surprise ending. As a bonus, it is set in an uncommon location. It is listed as book one in a series, so I cannot wait to find out what adventures await Inspector Lu Fei in the next books ( )
  3no7 | Jun 17, 2021 |
Thief of Souls is the first in a new mystery series featuring Inspector Lu Fei. Set in a backwater in contemporary northern China. Lu is a graduate from China’s best police college who could reasonably be expected to be much higher up and closer to the centers of power in Beijing. His assignment to such a small town is a sign that he ruffles feathers.

When a woman is murdered in his town, though, it attracts national interest because of the gruesome details. Some of her organs were removed and money to pay for her expenses in the afterlife was placed in her mouth. Naturally, a group of crime scene technicians, a medical examiner, and a someone officious higher ranked investigator were sent to run the investigation. They are eager to close the case and are thrilled to have a convenient neighbor that they can fit to the crime. Lu is not so sure and his continued investigation trods on more than a few toes.

I enjoyed Thief of Souls quite a bit. It was absolutely fair and for that reason, I knew who the murderer was long before Inspector Lu. There should have been a couple more viable suspects just to make it difficult. Of course, as a reader I had an advantage over Inspector Lu with interludes from the killer’s point of view. I really don’t think those interludes are necessary and they quickly made the killer obvious. When they reviewed two other cases, there was a detail that should have been investigated and it was not. I noted it as a reader and was surprised Inspector Lu missed it at first.

However, other than that, I enjoyed the book. It is a good procedural that is enhanced by the details about Chinese criminal justice practices. The characters are sufficiently complex, except for a couple oafish cops on the force. There is also a good sense of place, rich in context and social texture. I hope to read more in the series.

I received an e-galley of Thief of Souls from the publisher through NetGalley.

Thief of Souls at St. Martin’s Press | Macmillan
Brian Kingborg on Twitter

https://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpress.com/2021/05/12/9781250779052/ ( )
  Tonstant.Weader | May 12, 2021 |
Basically, this is one of those police procedural books. Perhaps it's a bit hardboiled in that we have some crude language and sketchy situations.

But, there's a big difference from your garden-variety procedural: the action and events take place in northeast China, up near Mongolia. Yes, there is a large city nearby, Harban, but most of the activity takes place in a much smaller burg, Raven Valley Township. I don't know enough about modern China to know if the descriptions of life there is somewhat realistic, but I'm guessing the author did a decent job of research. Things feel realistic.

So, a young woman, Yang Fenfang, is found murdered in her house. She has also been eviscerated, i.e. her organs "harvested". In addition, her TV and laptop appear to have been stolen, and later on, we learn that she used to have a fancy pair of red shoes, which are also missing. The cops figure to finger a local, Zhang Zhaoxing, who seems to have had rather a fetish regarding Yang Fenfang. But Inspector Lu Fei isn't sure they guy has either the smarts to pull off the murder, nor the skills to do the evisceration, even though the guy worked as a butcher. So, he looks further afield.

It seems that Yang Fenfang had previously worked as a hostess of some sort in the large city near by, Harban. She had come home recently to help ease her mother's last days and prepare her for a proper funeral. In looking into the goings on in Harban, Inspector Lu discovers several similar murders of young women, each of whom were eviscerated, each of whom had some attachment to an item that was red, and each of whom had recently been involved in the funeral rights of a close family relative.

Well, no need to go on. It's a pretty engaging story which also involves a spot of romance, in that Inspector Lu Fei has become a bit soft on the young widow, Ms. Luo Yanyan, who is the owner of the Red Lotus, the bar where Inspector Lu likes to while away his idle hours drinking.

Assuming this novel turns out to be part of a series, I'll be looking forward to further adventures of Inspector Lu Fei.

#ThiefofSouls #NetGalley
( )
  lgpiper | May 6, 2021 |
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this book. I enjoyed reading this mystery based in northern China; the unique location made the book appealing to me. I appreciated learning about life in this locale rather than the typical urban crime. That said, the background information (which I appreciated) sometimes disrupted the flow of the book. It was interesting to read about the cultural differences between China and the United States, assuming it's been accurately depicted by the author who is a foreigner, both regarding everyday life and police investigations. This book was a nice change of pace from others of its type largely because of the locale and its politics. I'm glad to have been able to read it. ( )
  Loried | May 5, 2021 |
Engaging new series featuring crime and detecting in China!

I rather think Klingborg has nailed it with his introduction of a new Police Officer and his crimal investigations in the countryside of modern Northern China.
Inspector Lu Fei lives in a rural region as an officer with Public Security Bureau by preference. When a particularly grotesque murder is revealed right in his backyard, he contacts the Criminal Investigations Bureau in Beijing. An uneasy alliance ensues with Superintendent Song.
The inquiry leads Lu to some strange places, including evidence of Party graft and corruption, and to the conclusion that they have a serial killer on their hands.
A commentary on life in general in China, of how Lu came to be where he is, of historical happenings in the recent past effecting Lu’s decisions about his life, I found fascinating, as are the chapter introductions wth quotes from Chairman Mao.
I must admit I wondered about Klingborg’s understandings but reading his bio shows that he is indeed qualified to write from Lu’s viewpoint. He’s a Harvard Graduate of the East Asia Studies program, has lived in South East Asia. He also studies and writes about martial arts.
It so happens Surprise! Surprise! that Lu Fei is a martial arts proponent earning the name Bruce Lu during his school years. I must say Lu’s reactions are realistic if not always graceful.
I enjoyed looking at life through his laconic, rather cynical lens after the mode of the ‘hard boiled detective with heart’ trope.
I’m pleased to say that Inspector Lu joins the other modern Chinese detecting / police novels I enjoy such as Inspector Chan, Rei Shimura and Inspector Chen Cao.
The way Lu looks at his life, his passion for duty, and respect he displays are aspects I enjoyed.
I’m hooked!

A Minotaur Books/St. Martin's Press ARC via NetGalley ( )
  eyes.2c | May 5, 2021 |
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