Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mystery Book Review: Chinese Whispers by Peter May

Mysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, is publishing a new review of Chinese Whispers by Peter May. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Chinese Whispers by Peter May

by
A Li Yan and Margaret Campbell Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-608-5 (1590586085)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-608-2 (9781590586082)
Publication Date: October 2009
List Price: $24.95

Review: Is the ghost of Jack the Ripper stalking the young women on the streets of Beijing? Or is it the work of an earthly, demented mind? Peter May has written yet another page turner, Chinese Whispers, which is the sixth in his China Thriller Series. Note, The Runner is the fifth book in this series, but is not slated for release by Poisoned Pen Press until February of 2010.

Set in Beijing, China, we learn that Dr. Margaret Campbell and Li Yan are now the parents of an infant son, Li Jon. Margaret has gone from the cutting edge of being the Chief Medical Examiner of the third largest county in the United States to a frustrated, full-time stay at home mom. She is unable to perform autopsies since she is an American on Chinese soil. Her husband Li is now Section One Chief of Criminal Investigation in the Beijing Police Department. A “Jack the Ripper” copycat killer is on the loose, and Li must catch the Beijing Ripper before another innocent young woman dies. His only clue is the butt of a cheroot, left at the scene of each crime.

Professor Pan, an American, is the next victim, or so they think. The autopsy is done by Dr. Campbell, and the DNA found on the cheroot does not match the DNA found the cheroots left at the previous scenes. Then, his son Li Jon is briefly kidnapped, but found unharmed with a note from the Ripper addressed to Li. Li starts to feel that the Beijing Ripper has a personal vendetta against him. He also begins to suspect that someone in the police department is the killer, but he is fired from his job before he can finish his investigation. Who can Li trust? Will Li be able to catch the Beijing Ripper and save more women without the resources of the Beijing Police Department?

Chinese Whispers was a riveting mystery; it kept me in suspense until the end. This story focused on Li Yan and his role in the investigation while Dr. Campbell had less importance in the story. Her relegation to the background is just a metaphor for the frustration Margaret feels about her current role and purpose in life as a mother to Li Jon. However, she is called upon to do the autopsy of Dr. Pan, because both are American citizens. Margaret is also instrumental in helping Li catch the Ripper. I would give this mystery a 4½ out of 5 stars. My only complaint is that Margaret did not have more of a key role in the novel. I also recommend that you wait to read The Runner first, before reading Chinese Whispers.

Special thanks to Ruth Miller for contributing her review of Chinese Whispers and to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2009 — Ruth Miller — All Rights Reserved — Reprinted with Permission

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If you are interested in purchasing Chinese Whispers from Amazon.com, please click the button to the right.

Synopsis (from the publisher): His victims are young, beautiful and viciously mutilated. He calls himself the Beijing Ripper. The media and terror-sticken public are demanding the arrest of the Beijing Ripper and Li Yan, the head of Beijing's serious crime squad, has been put in the spotlight. American pathologist Margaret Campbell is invited to perform an autopsy on one of the victims and her results send shockwaves through the investigation. Then Li begins receiving personal letters from the killer, and his life and career start falling apart. The need to uncover the Ripper's identity becomes paramount if he is to save himself and his family. Peter May's terrifying new China thriller pits Li Yan and Margaret Campbell against an unscrupulous foe who could prove to be their deadliest enemy yet.

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