#FridayPoetry: August
#FridayPoetry: Moving Away

What I'm Reading: A Case of Two Cities

A Case of Two Cities (Inspector Chen Cao #4)A Case of Two Cities by Qiu Xiaolong
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I recently reconnected with Qui Xiaolong after stumbling upon this book in a seaside bookstore. He and I worked together in the English department at St. Louis Community College in the 1990s, and I served as a "BETA reader" for his first book, Death of a Red Heroine, before that became a thing to do. As with that book, I appreciate very much the meshing of poetry and mystery in this one, which is unique in the crime genre. While A Case of Two Cities isn't a plot-driven page-turner, that's not why you should read it anyway. China is a compelling character of its own, and Qui offers a vivid, insider's glimpse into the country's transitional struggles. Inspector Chen's abiding hope that his honor and persistence will prevail within a corrupt and highly political system makes him by turns both sympathetic and tragic, his character compelling. And most notably, Qui's writing is some of the finest in the genre. His masterful send-up of a classic T.S. Eliot poem left me breathless, and the meditative subtleties of the writing often made me pause to savor the lines.

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