Don't Cry, Tai Lake An Inspector Chen Novel

Inspector Chen Cao

Qiu Xiaolong

Minotaur Books




272 Pages


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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.


Praise for Don't Cry, Tai Lake

"[Qui's] lauded series of contemporary Shanghai crime novels . . . feature Chief Inspector Chen Cao. Like Qiu, Chen works as a translator, writes poetry, and maintains an ambiguous relationship with the ruling party. Qiu's debut novel, Death of a Red Heroine, won the prestigious Anthony Award for best first novel by a mystery writer and was ranked as one of the five best political novels of all time by The Wall Street Journal . . . Though ostensibly police procedural dealing with mayhem and malfeasance—albeit laced with classical Chinese poetry and the wisdom of Confucius—the novels' true subjects are Shanghai and the Communist Party. Though in his heart he wishes to be a poet and literary scholar, Chen has been forced into police work by the party. Likewise, Qiu, who was on a similar scholarly path, made an abrupt turn into English-language crime fiction credited in large part to the 1989 Communist crackdown after the Tiananmen Square protests. 'I came to St. Louis and Washington University in 1988 because of T.S. Eliot,' Qiu says. A Ford Foundation exchange scholar, he had already translated The Waste Land, The Love Song of Alfred Prufrock and other Eliot poems into Chinese. Qiu thought that his ongoing work on Eliot might be enriched by coming to the poet's hometown and to the university founded by Eliot's grandfather . . . He made a life in St. Louis with his wife, Wang Lijun, and daughter, Julia Qiu, teaching, translating and earning his doctorate in comparative literature from Washington University in 1995. Meanwhile, life back in China was changing dramatically. With the economy mushrooming and standard of living advancing, Qiu saw that the once-reviled capitalists had morphed into an honored class. He sought to chronicle those changes. 'My first book was meant to be about Chinese culture in this new age,' Qiu says. But as he sought a frame for the novel, he drew on his affection for mysteries and on the true crime stories he had encountered in his previous contacts with a Shanghai magazine. 'I like mystery. Maybe I can use that as a framework, I told myself,' Qiu says. 'It served my organizational purpose. And it is very easy for a cop to move around and ask questions and read documents others cannot.' He styled Chen as 'a thinking cop and an intellectual, not just someone who finds out who did it,' Qiu says, 'but also the cultural and social circumstances surrounding the crime' . . . His Inspector Chen novels give Qiu a way of understanding and accepting the past and present, he says."—Rick Skwiot, Washington Magazine

“Thought-provoking, poetic and suspenseful.”—The Wall Street Journal 

“A meticulously crafted whodunit.”—The Japan Times

"Peppered with poetry and told with clarity and elegance."—Kirkus Reviews

“This environmental mystery is also an example of hard-hitting investigative reporting . . . Despite the grim subject matter, the novel is filled with beautiful descriptions and poetry (Chen is poet as well as detective) that reinforce the beauty that is being polluted and lost. Magnificent.”—Booklist (starred review) 

In the Press

DON'T CRY, TAI LAKE by Qiu Xiaolong | Kirkus Book Reviews
Read the Kirkus Review of DON'T CRY, TAI LAKE . Chief Inspector Chen, the poetic policeman, takes a backseat to a junior colleague in probing the murder of an unpopular industrialist.
Qiu Xiaolong’s ‘Don’t Cry, Tai Lake’ has a political edge, but endearing innocence - The Washington Post
The poetry-loving Chief Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai police is back in “Don’t Cry, Tai Lake,” by Qiu Xiaolong.

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

CHIEF INSPECTOR CHEN CAO of the Shanghai Police Bureau found himself standing in front of the gate to the Wuxi Cadre Recreation Center.
His vacation in the city of Wuxi was totally unexpected. Earlier that Sunday morning, Chen was in Zhenjiang, attending an intensive political seminar for emerging Party officials training for “new responsibilities,” when he got a phone call from Comrade Secretary Zhao, the former second secretary of the Central Party Discipline Committee. Though retired, Zhao remained one of the most influential figures in Beijing. Zhao
Read the full excerpt


  • Qiu Xiaolong

  • Qiu Xiaolong is a poet and author of several previous novels featuring Inspector Chen as well as Years of Red Dust. Born and raised in Shanghai, where he was a renowned poet and translator, Qiu lives with his family in St. Louis, Missouri.
  • Qiu Xiaolong