A Case of Two Cities An Inspector Chen Novel

Inspector Chen Cao

Qiu Xiaolong

Minotaur Books



Trade Paperback

320 Pages



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Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Department is assigned a high-profile anti-corruption case, one in which the principal figure has long since fled to the United States and beyond the reach of the Chinese government. But Xing left behind his organization, and Chen, while assigned to root the co-conspirators, is not sure whether he's actually being set up to fail.

In a twisting case that takes him from Shanghai all the way to the U.S., reuniting him with his colleague and counterpart from the U.S. Marshall's Service, Inspector Catherine Rhon, Chen finds himself at odds with hidden, powerful, and vicious enemies. At once a compelling crime novel and an insightful, moving portrayal of contemporary China, A Case of Two Cities is the finest novel yet in this critically-acclaimed, award-wining series.


Praise for A Case of Two Cities

"[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

"Dark, gorgeous . . . feels authentically Chinese and it works like a charm."—Washington Post Book World

"His characters are expertly drawn, his prose superb."—Library Journal (starred review)

"Unusual and compelling . . . a fascinating series."—Booklist

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Chief inspector Chen Cao, of the Shanghai Police Bureau, was invited to a mega bathhouse, Birds Flying, Fishes Jumping, on a May afternoon.

According to Lei Zhenren, editor of Shanghai Morning, they would have all their worries...

Read the full excerpt


  • Qiu Xiaolong

  • Qui 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