Guest Post – A CASE OF TWO CITIES by Qiu Xiaolong

Today, a guest post from Condorena – a Delaware physician, born in Chile, who loves mystery stories set in exotic locations, and spending time with her grandchildren.

Detective Inspector  (and poet) Chen Cao of the Shanghai police has been called to take over an important investigation of the corruption that is a serious problem in the upper echelons in the communist party. The Communist Party leadership appears to be taking a rigorous stand investigating this rampant corruption among the profligate power elite during China’s economic reforms of the recent past.

After the previous head of the corruption special case squad who was also known to be a very solid upright cop is murdered in sordid circumstances, Inspector Chen is brought in and is given what might be called an Imperial warrant in a different time to do what he must.  Chen discovers that the dead man had been probing a wealthy businessman, Xing Xing, who fled to the United States to escape prosecution. Xing Xing has amassed a fortune while corrupting various party officials.  In America Xing is claiming that that he left for political reasons and he wants the US to deny extradition.

As Chen begins his investigation his mother’s life is threatened and one of the friends he contacted for information has also been savagely murdered.

Suddenly, as he begins to delve into the lives of more corrupt officials he is told to lead a delegation of writers to the U.S. for a cultural exchange. The high officials from Beijing are aware that he is being sent to the US and so he follows orders although he feels unworthy to be leading a literary group and he knows the group for the sudden change in leadership will resent him. However Xing Xing is in LA when his tour starts and his American friend Catherine a US Marshall he became close to lives near one of the tour stops.

Chen has many doubts and obstacles. The group complains bitterly that their works are not seen on the shelves at the university they visit, but even worse they can’t understand why they can’t smoke wherever they want, “It is supposed to be a free country!!!” The local Chinese who are happy to see people from home and treat the visitors very well welcomes the tour group. There is a large section of LA where there are Chinese exiles who have purchased large estates with cash that they have managed to get out of China and need somewhere to hide to or launder it.

Chen recalls his father’s words when he has these doubts that a man must do what he must and goes forward with his investigation despite the fact that the tour interpreter is murdered because he is thought to be Chen when they are in St. Louis.

This brings Catherine back into his life and he shows for once that he does have a desire for a private life. He writes his doubts in this T.S. Eliot parody

Shall I go, shall I go

with my Chinese accent and a roast

Beijing duck, to her home

When the evening is spreading out

Like a gigantic invitation poster

against the clouds of doubt?

..Should I explain a Chinese joke

with the help of an English book

after baseball, chips and dips

and helpless tongue slips,

..what if she, kicking

off her sandals and trimming

her toenails, should say

“That is not it at all,

that is not what I meant at all.”

But he must go back to China to finish what he began and at the moment he is caught between the old China  of his father and the new China of his own generation and he understands both very well. He believes and hopes that the problems are not insurmountable.

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1 Response to Guest Post – A CASE OF TWO CITIES by Qiu Xiaolong

  1. Pingback: AUTHORS N – R | MURDER by TYPE

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