A Jack the Ripper wannabe stalks Beijing.
Li Yan, head of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Beijing Municipal Police, is appalled when four prostitutes are murdered in a manner exactly replicating that of the Ripper 120 years ago. The mastermind even sends him precisely worded taunts indicating his next venture. Then Lynn Pann, the professor running a supposedly foolproof lie-detection technique called the Mermer program, is murdered in a manner indicating even more similarities to the Ripper’s work. Is a copycat killer on the loose, or is the perp one of the volunteer subjects Pann examined with Mermer? Further complicating matters, Li’s questioning of several subjects, all higher-ups in the Beijing political hierarchy, has explosive results. His American lover Margaret’s attempt to renew her visa is denied. Their son is abducted. Li’s sister is jailed on charges of cocaine trafficking. Li himself is ousted from his position in the Municipal Police. Equally troubling, a polygraph expert trying to decipher Pann’s notes takes a header out his apartment window. Working unofficially, Li concentrates on inconsistencies revealed by Mermer in order to zero in on the most likely suspects. Margaret will be seriously endangered before a final knife thrust ends the search.
The repeat tour of the Ripper’s dissections is just plain grisly. But the interesting locale and May’s ongoing study of the difficulties in conducting Chinese-American romances (The Runner, 2003, etc.) are likely to interest a broader range of readers.