This book is the bizarre child of a history textbook and a police thriller. It starts as a detailed historical description of Peking just before WWII and then begins focusing on the more specific event of the ferocious murder of a young white woman, of the likes history has never seen before. In an unusual way of narration, the book meticulously progresses from the facts of the investigation, through the various players that participate to it and the facts that they uncover. The facts themselves seemed to have been drawn from the imagination of a fiction novelist but they are all true, but, at the same time, the book reads like a history book without any of the experiential narration that comes with novels.
To be honest, I would have preferred that the dramatization be more novel-like and the style can get dry and boring at times. The problem with the historical narration is that the author is extremely distant to what is happening and most of the psychological angle is entirely lost. But the research, and the facts themselves are, on their own, enough to capture the imagination.
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