- Hardcover: 340 pages
- Publisher: Minotaur Books (5 February 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312364652
- ISBN-13: 978-0312364656
- Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 3 x 20.7 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 431 g
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
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The Killing Room Hardcover – 5 Feb 2008
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About the Author
Peter May has been a journalist and is the author of three major television series in Britain, one of them in Gaelic. With an extraordinary network of contacts, he has gained unprecedented access to the homicide and forensic science sections of the Beijing and Shanghai police forces. The Chinese Crime Writers Association named May an honorary member of their Beijing chapter, making him the only Westerner to receive this tribute. May lives in France.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Despite that, the plots are good and I recommend the series.
Beijing detective Li Yan is working on a case where a woman's body has been found. It appears the victim had undergone an autopsy while alive, organs removed and her body cut into pieces.
Now Yan is sent to Shanghai to oversee the investigation instigated by a mass grave being found there with the similar remains of 18 women. Yan, oblivious by the attentions of his female counterpart in Shanghai, sends for American pathologist Margaret Campbell, with whom he has worked before and with whom he is lovers. While the nightmare of the case escalates, so do the problems with their relationship.
There was definitely more to like about this book than not. I really enjoy learning about China of today and seeing it through the eyes of both a resident, albeit of Beijing who, himself, doesn't feel comfortable in Shanghai, and an American make the story particularly interesting. Yan is a very good policeman who is classically clueless as a male at times, while Margaret is an excellent pathologist who is almost overwhelming insecure as a woman. Those aspects make the characters very believable and human.
I also learned about pathology and science, but in a way that was clinical; not horrific or ever boring. There is suspense that does build nicely. Although I suspected one villain, I didn't see the other one coming.
The first book of the series, "The Firemaker," is still my favorite, but I shall definitely continue on with Margaret and Li.
Having visted Shanghai nine times in the past two years, I find the Chinese background and culture in this series and this mystery in particular are outstanding. Written in 2000 and just released in the USA, this highly charged mystery actually foretells some of Shanghai's modern 21st Century political history of local corruption. While other novelists may touch on the corruption in a lighter, more oblique way, May gets right to the point in demonstrating how the hierarchy works. He touches on the continuing power struggle between Beijing and Shanghai.
The other reviews cover the story line well. The setting of Shanghai is remarkably accurate, and the description of life and families is still quite relevant eight years after the book was authored. (Many things can change in Shanghai in eight years.) As I have Shanghai friends to explain many customs in modern China, I find that May captures them in very subtle ways. May distills the Chinese manners and details them into background throughout the novel.
If you are travelling to Shanghai and want to get an inside look into the city's life, this is a must read. Only you will find that Shanghai is a much safer place than what happens in the vicinity of Margaret and Li.