Why did a remote police station, built to combat pirates, find itself at the centre of a murder-suicide after a constable went on the rampage? How did Chinese gangsters avoid conviction after serving a deadly dinner to Frenchtown’s elite? And why is the Foreign Office still withholding a key document to solving a murder that took place in the Gobi desert in 1935?
By delving deep into 12 of China’s most fascinating murder cases, Murders of Old China delivers a fast-paced journey through China’s early 20th-century history – including its criminal underbelly.
Uncovering previously unknown connections and exposing the lies, Paul French queries the verdict of some of China’s most controversial cases, interweaving true crime with China’s chaotic and complicated history of foreign occupation and Chinese rival factions.
I rarely feature non-fiction on Novel Kicks but when I was asked if I wanted to take part in the blog tour for Murders of Old China and read about the premise, I jumped at the chance.
Each chapter focuses on a different case and even though it’s non-fiction, it felt that I could have been reading a fictional murder mystery novel. Some of it was almost unbelievable.
The mystery and the twists and turns in these cases appealed to my love of puzzles and history.
This has made me want to know as much as possible about this era that I have previously not known anything about.
It’s a terrific insight into the justice system in China and the western influence on it, as well as the obvious prejudice toward the Chinese people and the unfairness in the outcomes; even as they looked at the first potential death penalty case, the man involved felt that the man he killed to be beneath him. It’s shocking.
If, like me, you’re a fan of podcasts like Serial and crime documentaries, this will be perfect. I found it very interesting, insightful and I am grateful for the chance to review it.
Paul French was born in Enfield, London and moved to Shanghai after studying Chinese at the City Literary Institute. Paul spent nearly twenty years living and working in China, splitting time between Shanghai and Beijing. During this time, he worked as a journalist and book reviewer for a number of publications, researching the early twentieth century history of both cities, particularly the foreign communities that lived there.
French is known for his true crime literary non-fiction set in twentieth century China. His book Midnight in Peking was a New York Times bestseller, and won a number of prestigious awards including the CWA Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction and the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime. Paul’s second literary non-fiction book City of Devils: A Shanghai Noir was a Kirkus Book of the Year.
Murders of Old China is an Audible Original. Click to view on Audible.co.uk
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