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Paper Butterfly
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Two narratives drive Liang's absorbing second mystery to feature PI Wang Mei, who once worked for the ministry of public security (after 2008's The Eye of Jade): Mei's search for a missing pop singer, Kaili, and a subplot that begins nine years earlier with the imprisonment of a student, Lin, for participating in the student demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. Mei's investigation is slowed by the absence of her assistant, Gupin, but as she travels among many Beijing settings, including open-air markets, a big record company's offices, isolated construction areas and migrant workers' housing, the city's astonishing diversity and energy come alive. Fueled by innumerable tidbits about Chinese culture and daily life, the story is refreshingly low on Western-centric references. While the bias is clear, Liang, who left China after taking part in the Tiananmen Square protests, presents the politics with minimal dogma. A twist ending redeems a somewhat thin plot. (May) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

A high-ranking Beijing cop-turned-PI, Mei Wang (The Eye of Jade) is hired to find a missing singer. At the same time, a leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising is released from the prison camp where he has been brutalized for years. Memories of Mei's own traumatic past (her father died in a labor camp) return as she reads the letters found in the young singer's apartment. The author, who spent her childhood in a labor camp and escaped China in 1989 after taking part in the student uprising, uses recent Chinese history as a catalyst for a haunting mystery that leaves readers with an intense sadness. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 1/09.] Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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