Inspector Chen of the Shanghai police is given a special mandate by
the Central Party Discipline Committee to investigate the connections
of a shady businessman who has fled to the United States. But some of
the figures he interviews turn up dead, while others try to intimidate
him by threatening his aging mother. And then, mid-way through the
investigation, Chen, who is also a published poet, is appointed to head
a delegation of writers to the United States.
There is no detail of police procedure in A Case of Two Cities, in
contrast to the writers' conferences, where Qiu Xiaolong is clearly
on more familiar territory. And it's entertaining when Chen and his
friends quote Tang poetry at each other and trade aphorisms, but that
doesn't seem entirely realistic.
The plot and the setting are good enough to carry the story, however,
despite a lack of emotional tension or engagement. A Case of Two Cities
is an easy and pleasant read.
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