SEVEN CIRCUMSTANCES

Book Reviews & Essays on Literature

Red Mandarin Dress, by Qiu Xiaolong

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Red mandarin dress”Inspector Chen”, hero of this novel, has a weak stomach. He does not like the odd delicacies offered at receptions and traditional Chinese restaurants, such as live boiled turtle soup and live braised monkey’s brain. However, to trap his suspect into a confession, he sets up a horrible banquet with “cruel food”, dishes to make even the greatest gourmand squirm. He toys with the suspect, stage-managing the scene, and finally revealing the strange and shocking truth. Chen is a mesmerizing sleuth. He is insecure, self-indulgent and prone to symptoms of anxiety. But he is also kind-hearted, highly observant, intuitive, persistent and clever. No reader of a mystery can ask for more, other than a gripping plot and dramatic denouement, which the novel does possess. (Continue reading…)

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