The Interior: A Red Princess Mystery (The Red Princess Mysteries)
2 journalers for this copy...
Liu Hulan receives a letter from a friend she hasn't seen in years. Hulan is an investigator so her friend asks her to look into the death of her daughter, whom she believes was murdered. Hulan takes the opportunity to travel from Beijing to the interior of China, where her peasant friend lives, to see her again and to find out what happened.
Meanwhile, David Stark, prosecuting attorney, is persuaded to rejoin his own law firm and to open an office in Beijing. The first order of business is to finish up the sale of a toy factory to a major conglomerate. He accepts the offer in large part because it will give him an opportunity to be with Hulan again. The two have had a relationship for some time, but haven't been able to stay in the same place for long.
As it happens, the toy factory is in the small village near where Hulan's friend lives, and is where her daughter worked before she died. Thus David and Hulan are both interested in that factory.
The investigation by the two of them has a rocky start, with David not really tuning in to what Hulan has discovered and believes. Over time he frees himself of some of his prejudices and is ready to listen. But voices come from many places: Hulan, the toy manufacturer and his son, the conglomerate, and the governor of the district, who has been helpful to the toy manufacturer over the years. And not least, the law partner who persuaded David to go to China.
Having read biographical and travel books on China during Mao's reign and beyond, I appreciated the details here, underscoring the difficulties during those years. I further appreciated the careful rendering of differences in law between the U.S. and China, and the differences in customs. At first the story seemed to be leaning toward Chinese mysticism (for want of another term), a topic explored by some Chinese and Chinese-American writers I have read, and I was happy to find that this theme did not dominate the book.
It's a beautifully written book that provides entertainment but also a great deal of truth.
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