Inspector Chen Cao Books

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Inspector Chen Cao is a series of crime fiction novels written by Qiu Xiaolong. The books follow the exploits of Chen Cao, a Chief Inspector and his sidekick Yu.

Order of Inspector Chen Series

#ReadTitlePublishedDetails
1Death of a Red Heroine2000Description / Buy
2A Loyal Character Dancer2002Description / Buy
3When Red is Black2004Description / Buy
4A Case of Two Cities2006Description / Buy
5Red Mandarin Dress2007Description / Buy
6The Mao Case2009Description / Buy
7Don't Cry, Tai Lake2012Description / Buy
8Enigma of China2013Description / Buy
9Shanghai Redemption2014Description / Buy
10Hold Your Breath, China2020Description / Buy
11The Shadow of the Empire2022Description / Buy

Order of Inspector Chen Collections

#ReadTitlePublishedDetails
1Poems of Inspector Chen (Short Story)2016Description / Buy
2Inspector Chen and Me2018Description / Buy

Order of Judge Dee Investigation Series

#ReadTitlePublishedDetails
1The Shadow of the Empire2022Description / Buy
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Chen always had a keen intellect. In fact, he was initially expected to become a diplomat. But a scandal with his uncle ruined his career path and he was instead sent to the Shanghai Police Bureau.

Still, Chen persevered, partnering with Detective Yu Guangming to solve crimes in Shanghai in the 1990s. Their relationship was initially adversarial. For a time, Yu refused to accept Chen.

He did not believe that the Chief Inspector had earned his position. But over time, he witnessed Chen’s intellect firsthand and the chief inspector won his loyalty.

Chen and Yu are first introduced to readers in Death of a Red Heroine, the first novel in the Inspector Chen Cao series.

When a woman dies, Chen and Yu are tasked with investigating her murder, a mission they undertake with some fervor when they discover that the persona she presented in public was in stark contrast to her secret lifestyle.

Most people knew Guan Hongying as a dignified cog in the Communist Party machine. They had no idea that the skeletons in her closet risked bringing shame to everyone who knew her.

When Chen and Yu start asking all the wrong questions, a powerful enemy exerts his authority in an effort to squash their investigation. But nothing will stop Chen from getting to the truth, not even the corrupt powers that control his country.

Qui Xiaolong, the author, wrote the Inspector Chen Cao series because he wanted to provide western viewers a glimpse of the changing landscape of this home country.

Qui, who was born in 1953, had a difficult childhood. He refers to his father as an accidental capitalist whose actions brought the fist of the Chinese state down on his family.

Qui, who is now identified as an English language author, started learning English as a teenager when he stumbled upon a group of people studying the language in a Shanghai Park.

He eventually migrated to the United States in the late 1980s for educational purposes. He had no intention of staying. But then the Tiananmen Square incident happened and circumstances drove the author to believe that he would lose his freedom if he returned to China.

So Qui stayed in the US and built his writing career. As the years passed, things changed in China. Qui felt a strong desire to use the written word to capture the transformation.

He experimented with a few poems but then decided that a detective story would provide him with the sort of structure he would need to bring Chinese culture to life.

Qui describes his Chen Cao novels as stories about China that have been written from a distance. Qui has visited China but he doesn’t live there, so he believes that the picture he paints of the country is unique and necessary.

Inspector Chen Cao Awards

The first book in this series (Death of a Red Heroine) won the Anthony Award (2001).

Best Inspector Chen Cao Books

These novels have been commended for the effort they make to accurately present the tradition, style, cuisine, culture, and politics of China in the 20th and the 21st Century, with some of the best books in the series including:

Death of a Red Heroine: To the world, Guan was a respectable public figure, a communist party member. But in secret, she also pursued a lifestyle that some would have classified as degenerate.

When she is murdered, Chief Inspector Chen’s investigation is hampered by the son of a high ranking party official who doesn’t want to see the case solved.

A Loyal Character Dancer: Chief Inspector Chen wants to sink his teeth into the Triad Killing that happened in Bund Park. But his boss has other plans.

A US Marshal is coming to secure and then transport Wen, the wife of a witness, back to the US. And Chen has been tasked with escorting her. At first, Chen considers the task to be a waste of his talents. Everything changes when Wen disappears from her village.

Other Book Series You May Like

Be sure to check out the Erlendur Series by Arnaldur Indridason. Erlendur is a detective who works alongside his colleagues to tackle the cases that liter Reykjavik’s underworld.

You may also like the Van Veeteren Series by Hakan Nesser. Veeteren is a grumpy, cynical Detective Chief Inspector in the fictional town of Maardam. When he isn’t drinking dark beer or playing chess, he can be found solving crimes and mysteries.

What Is The Next Book in The Inspector Chen Series?

The next book in the The Inspector Chen Series by Qiu Xiaolong is The Shadow of the Empire and will be released on January, 1st 2022.

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