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Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China | [Paul French]

Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China

Peking in 1937 is a heady mix of privilege and scandal, opulence and opium dens, rumors and superstition. The Japanese are encircling the city, and the discovery of Pamela Werner's body sends a shiver through already nervous Peking. Is it the work of a madman? One of the ruthless Japanese soldiers now surrounding the city? With the suspect list growing and clues sparse, two detectives - one British and one Chinese - race against the clock to solve the crime before the Japanese invade and Peking as they know it is gone forever.
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Publisher's Summary

In the last days of old Peking, where anything goes, can a murderer escape justice?

Peking in 1937 is a heady mix of privilege and scandal, opulence and opium dens, rumors and superstition. The Japanese are encircling the city, and the discovery of Pamela Werner's body sends a shiver through already nervous Peking. Is it the work of a madman? One of the ruthless Japanese soldiers now surrounding the city? Or perhaps the dreaded fox spirits?

With the suspect list growing and clues sparse, two detectives - one British and one Chinese - race against the clock to solve the crime before the Japanese invade and Peking as they know it is gone forever. Can they find the killer in time, before the Japanese invade?

Historian and China expert Paul French at last uncovers the truth behind this notorious murder, and offers a rare glimpse of the last days of colonial Peking.

©2012 Paul French (P)2012 Penguin Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (183 )
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4.1 (161 )
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 (79)
3 star
 (21)
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 (5)
Performance
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  •  
    Leonard Honolulu, HI 01-05-13
    Leonard Honolulu, HI 01-05-13 Member Since 2010

    Love to Bungee!!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    66
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    "Mystery Meets History"

    French's book is a splendid mystery set in the twilight days of the pre-WWII China. In addition to a great story, the listener is given a wonderful insight into life in Peking in the late 1930s. The narration is good, though at times clinical, but the story keeps you wanting to listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert des plaines, IL, United States 12-26-12
    Robert des plaines, IL, United States 12-26-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good mystery,fascinating look into a unique period"

    I bought this book as while I was working in China. For me the murder mystery is interesting but really a vehicle for a look into the unique world of 1930s China.

    A country where the money and power was split between a host of foreign nations all looking to get out before the heavy work of defending it from an aggressive neighbor came due. People divided by culture, wealth, beliefs, habits, politics, gender.

    China is an amazing study of contrasts and it is constantly shown that China's past was more confusing than the present.

    I would recommend reading this book just for the glimpse it gives into how China and the West have interacted in the past (and often continue to do so in the present).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    G. Chambers New Jersey 09-10-12
    G. Chambers New Jersey 09-10-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    2
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    Story
    "Midnight in Peking Disappoints"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    The story was tedious and repetitive and. although it was apparently nonfiction, the plot strained credibility at certain points.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    "The Good Earth" by Pearl Buck


    Which character – as performed by Erik Singer – was your favorite?

    Pamela's father was the most sympathetic character.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynne Arlington, VA, United States 08-17-12
    Lynne Arlington, VA, United States 08-17-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    "Worth a listen"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    This book has all the elements of a good mystery. It's shocking in places. Would have liked to have learned a little more history of what was going on in the country at that time.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    Probably.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marcela Mexico, Mexico 08-06-12
    Marcela Mexico, Mexico 08-06-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    1
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    "The second half just did not do it for me"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    The second half was written in a very different style from the beginning, as if read out of a police report, very little action. I totally lost interest in the intriguing story.


    What does Erik Singer bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Excellent performance. Couldn't have read it better.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maria Chicago, IL, United States 07-26-12
    Maria Chicago, IL, United States 07-26-12 Member Since 2010

    The Q :While I drive, on public transportation, when there is a need to tune everyone out and transport myself to another place, another time...

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    Story
    "Sad"
    Would you listen to Midnight in Peking again? Why?

    No, very rarely a repeat listener.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Sadness, a life interupted is always a sad and tragic moment. Those close to it can never recover.


    What three words best describe Erik Singer’s voice?

    Fit the mood


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    Peking - the Legation Quarter and how the foreign police had to work with the Chinese police.


    Any additional comments?

    This was an interesting story, and the author's description of the city, the spaces, and the people gives it a richness and brings the reader to the place, time and movements.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kay Seattle, WA, United States 07-03-12
    Kay Seattle, WA, United States 07-03-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    6
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    Story
    "A crime becomes a magnifying glass for history."
    If you could sum up Midnight in Peking in three words, what would they be?

    Captivating, sad and true


    What did you like best about this story?

    The suspense involved though the outcome was known


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The wealthy expats watching the war from the balcony


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    A poignant slice of history

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karin Aurora, CO, United States 06-11-12
    Karin Aurora, CO, United States 06-11-12 Member Since 2008
    ratings
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    19
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    Performance
    Story
    "Juicy murder-mystery and it's all true"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This was a really good listen. It had all the elements of a good murder-mystery - a young socialite victim, sex, violence, corruption - set in the exotic background of the foreign quarters of pre-World War 11 Peking. Hard to believe it's a true story except In addition to the story line there is the bonus of the social life of the ex-pats and the Japanese build-up to the war.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Kenmore, WA, United States 06-10-12
    John Kenmore, WA, United States 06-10-12 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
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    "A Time Forgotton"
    What made the experience of listening to Midnight in Peking the most enjoyable?

    Detailed knowledge of the life and experience living in Peking at that time.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Disappointment. Not neatly wrapped up for reader at the end. But this was true life. Life is not neat.


    Which character – as performed by Erik Singer – was your favorite?

    Not really attracted to any of the characters. More of an "arms length" experience. Watching from afar.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    The continued dread of Japanese invasion which held over Peking at the time. And the timid or cowardly actions of the historical figures, Chaing Kai Shiek and Mao Te Sung. Essentially out of sight, out of mind while Peking suffered.


    Any additional comments?

    Book reminded me very much of "Devil in the White City". Details in this book were at times graphic and gruesome. But the historical detail was excellent and made the experience enjoyable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    06-04-12
    06-04-12 Listener Since 2007
    ratings
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    1
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    Story
    "Mesmerizing story"
    Where does Midnight in Peking rank among all the audiobooks you???ve listened to so far?

    Midnight in Peking is a fascinating story about what was happening in Peking in the late 1930's and the story of a father's devotion to his daughter even in death. The horrible story of what happened to her possibly happened to others. Without his persistence, the killers would have gotten away with it. Because of his persistence, they had to stop their "sport" and disband. Wonderful story and mystery, but so sad because it was true.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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