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Red Mandarin Dress

by Qiu Xiaolong

Meet the Morse and Lewis of Shanghai in an unusual whodunit. Clever, arty, neurotic Inspector Chen and his practical, down-to-earth sidekick Yu make engaging heroes. I'm not usually a big fan of crime but this is a cracker, full of fascinating insights into Shanghai life. I got a real sense of the characters' lives: where they live, what they wear and, especially, what they eat - both droolingly delicious and gruesomely disgusting.

Extract

About twenty minutes later, he found himself walking in under the familiar entrance arch of the Old City God’s Temple Market.
For most Shanghainese, the temple represented not so much of an attraction in itself, but simply a name for the surrounding market of local snacks and products – originally booths and stalls for the temple festivals. For Chen, the attraction came from those eateries, whose offerings were inexpensive yet unique in their flavors, such as chicken and duck blood soup, soup buns in small steamers, radish-shred cakes, shrimp and meat dumplings, beef soup noodles, fried tofu and vermicelli …. All these he had liked so much, in the days when society was still an egalitarian one, in which everyone made little money and enjoyed simple meals.

Parallels

The Eye of Jade by Diane Wei Liang
Inspector Morse - TV series
 

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