Chinese writer Ying’s first appearance in English challenges the Y District Criminal Division to uncover the disturbing motive for the murder of a real estate tycoon.
At first the death of Hu Guohao looks like an accidental drowning. The CEO of Landmark Properties was known to enjoy long-distance swimming, and it’s not such a stretch to think he would have begun his very last swim near the Seaview Hotel in Greater Meisha and washed up several miles away in Lesser Meisha. But when medical examiner Tian Qing realizes Hu’s lungs are full of algae that flourished in the red tide of Nan’ao, even further away, Detective Cui Dajun and his colleagues realize Hu’s corpse must have been moved from the place he died. In the meantime, Hu’s killer hasn’t been idle; Hong Yiming, the General Manager of Big East Realty, whose company had been dueling Hu’s for the purchase of Tiandongba, a potentially lucrative tract of land, is found poisoned, and Feng Xueying, Hu’s assistant, is killed by a hit-and-run driver soon after the police learn she’s illegally hired a firm of private detectives to shadow Zhu Meifeng, Hu’s beautician wife. With the persistent, if initially unwelcome, help of journalist Nie Feng, the officers of Y District slowly and painstakingly tie the murders to the shameful deaths 28 years ago of 10 young women of the Yunnan Construction Corps. Since the connection is portended as early as the story’s title, none of this is very surprising, but it’s cumulatively powerful.
Rooting contemporary crimes in government-sanctioned corruption is nothing new for American writers, but Ying’s tale marks something new and welcome in Chinese fiction.