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Publisher's Summary

Li Yan and Margaret Campbell return in a new story, years after the dramatic conclusion of Chinese Whispers.

'I saw your missing girl at a ghost wedding last week. She was the bride.'

It has been a whirlwind few years for Li Yan and Margaret Campbell. Nowadays, both are busy juggling their huge professional workloads - Li as the newly promoted chief of Beijing's serious crime squad and Campbell as lecturer at the University of Public Security - with the day-to-day raising of their young son, Li Jon.

When a desperate mother appeals to Campbell's own maternal instincts, Li agrees to look into the disappearance of a 17-year-old Beijing girl, Jiang Meilin. Yet Li's investigation soon turns from a favour into a full-scale murder enquiry. And when he receives an anonymous note, he learns Jiang Meilin's death is tied to a dangerous underground trade and a dark marital rite from China's past.

©2017 Peter May (P)2017 Quercus Editions Limited

What members say

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  • Story
  • joy
  • 04-08-17

Too short

Pity so short and no further development of key characters. Really enjoyed the background info on Chinese history, culture and belief systems in the series.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • JWH
  • 04-17-17

Ghost marriage

I loved this book as I did with this whole series, now waiting for a longer one to come out.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • ChrisH
  • 05-31-17

more if a short story

good story line and well read but more of a short story than a full novel

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • MR
  • 05-04-17

Too short

Good little story, but not worth a credit or £22. Way over priced. Performance good as always though.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr Alan Jelly
  • 04-12-17

1hour 9mins - feels like I've been cheated!

Have enjoyed listening to others in the series, but couldn't believe it when this one ended. Thought there must have been a mistake, but no, it really is that short!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Wras
  • 04-03-17

Cultural practices Investigated

A good novella that lives you wanting more, and amuse-bouche, with no main course a good story with and abrupt ending.

8 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • e
  • 01-19-18

Ghost marriage

So good but so short. I hope there is going to be more of the China thriller coming our way one day or maybe it’s time to move on.

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  • Judy Lovelock
  • 10-24-17

Great storyline

Both Peter's have done it again, although it was a short story it was to the great standards we have come to expect

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  • FictionFan
  • 05-25-17

Take this woman...

Any additional comments?

This short novella is a new follow-up to Peter May's China Thrillers. This was the series that originally turned me into a May fan, long before the Lewis trilogy made him a major star in the firmament of crime fiction. So it was a pleasure to revisit Margaret, the American forensic pathologist, and her Chinese partner, Li Yan of the Beijing police.

Margaret and Li Yan are still living together, now with the addition of their young son, when Margaret is approached by an elderly woman who tells her that her granddaughter has gone missing, and begs Margaret to use her influence with Li Yan to get him to investigate. As Li Yan gradually finds out what happened to the girl, the story takes us into a mysterious and macabre aspect of Chinese tradition, and into the secrets and lies that can exist in families.

Because the story is so short, I won't say any more about the plot for fear of spoiling it. What has always attracted me most to May's writing is that he chooses interesting settings for his crimes and his impeccable research allows him to create a great sense of place. This was always particularly true of the China thrillers, especially since he began the series way back when the idea of visiting China still seemed like an exotic dream for most of us. The length of this one doesn't allow for much description of Beijing itself, but the plot gives an insight into some of the strange superstitions and rituals that still exist in the country, while also touching on some of the issues thrown up by China's long-standing but now abandoned one-child policy.

With Margaret being a pathologist, the China thrillers also contained some rather gruesome autopsy scenes, and that tradition continues in this one. There isn't room for a huge amount of detection – really we just see the story unfold along with Li Yan as he gradually uncovers the truth. I enjoyed it as a way to catch up with two characters who feel like old friends, but I think it would work equally well as a brief introduction to the style of the series for people who haven't tried it yet. There was never much doubt that Margaret and Li Yan would stay together as a couple so although this takes place after the other books, it's otherwise spoiler free.

I listened to the Audible audiobook version, narrated by Peter Forbes who, I believe, has been the narrator for May's books for a long time now. I thought his narration was very good – I have no way of knowing whether his pronunciations of Chinese words and names is accurate, but I certainly found them convincing. The decision to give the Chinese characters Chinese accents didn't really work for me, I admit – I feel that if characters are supposed to be speaking their own language, then they shouldn't be made to sound 'foreign'. I listened to a Maigret novel immediately following this, where the narrator gave all the French characters English accents appropriate to their class and position in society, and I must say that felt much more natural and authentic. However, it's a debatable point, and some people may prefer the 'foreign'-sounding accents.

Overall, a short but enjoyable return to the world of Beijing. I'm now wondering whether this is a kind of coda to the series, or whether it's to whet our appetites for a future new novel? I hope it's the latter...

NB This audiobook was provided for review by Audible UK via MidasPR.

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  • Linda
  • 05-12-17

Beware I'd not realised this was only a 'novella'

Stupidly I thought this was a new China book - and was gutted when it turned out otherwise. I cannot see the point of this at all - it;s not a particularly clever short story and will I am sure leave all listeners, like me, feeling completely bemused. Absolutely no point in purchase.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful