A Chinese State Security officer follows a tantalizing trail to neutralize a devastating menace.
The town of Yanji is hit with a bizarre rash of noodle shop poisonings, seven in one day. To Maj. Bing Zong-yuan, the eloquent narrator, it’s a clear if bizarre case of multiple murders. But the mayor, who’s recently gotten an earful from Beijing, is convinced that this is an act of terrorism and presses the unflappable Bing to investigate. He dutifully visits the restaurants and consults his uncle, the legendary retired Inspector O (A Drop of Chinese Blood, 2012, etc.), who now has his own detective agency just across the border in North Korea. Indeed, O is two steps ahead of his nephew with news that a dangerous ex-triad chief known as Mike is back in the city and that the blonde wife of the owner of a huge local manufacturing plant was one of the victims. After learning Mike’s recent whereabouts, Bing follows up on his instinct about Beijing bigwigs by visiting the houses of prostitution on Dooran Street, where the tea is regularly spilled. Meanwhile, in his subtle way, Inspector O continues to ferret out significant evidence, like a Portuguese connection to the crimes, while Bing’s contact takes him to Barcelona. Layer upon worldwide layer must be unpeeled to reach the solution.
The sixth outing for Church’s wise inspector creates an intriguing synergy, with many insights into international culture and a complex plot.