Midnight In Peking: The Murder That Haunted The Last Days Of Old China
- Penguin Books Ltd
- Publication Date:
- 31 May 2012
Showing 1-4 out of 13 reviews. Previous | Next
Peking China in 1937 was in turmoil. Opium dens, prostitution, and superstitions were just the everyday concerns. The bigger reality was that the Japanese were gearing up to barge into the city and the citizens were on alert. The murder of Pamela Werner could not have come at a worse time. With very few clues and reluctant witnesses a Chinese and a British detective have very little time to solve the gruesome murder. I immediately became captivated by Pamela Werner’s story and was invested in learning the conclusion. All of the little details that went into explaining the problems surrounding those who lived in the city and all of the politics that went into suppressing evidence from investigators gave me insight into the frustration of Pamela’s case. The author worked hard to tell Pamela Werner’s story and it shows. It flowed well and never felt overwhelming leaving me with an interest in learning more about the history of that time and place. I recommend this to anyone, especially to those who enjoy true crime.
Excellent research and storytelling skills
I really enjoyed this book. Not only is it an absorbing account of a murder mystery but the author paints an evocative picture of colonial life in 1930's Beijing. I was shocked and saddened by the details of the murder and the probable solution, all the more so for it being a true story. I was inspired to check newspaper accounts of the time to see what had been reported. I also followed the author's suggestions as to further reading as I became quite entranced by the whole subject. One new trend, which I like, is that of the publisher setting up a whole website to sell the book. Thus, Penguin have a 'Murder in Peking' website that has video interviews with the author, maps and other resources relating to the book. I would urge anyone who has the slightest interest in China, the 1930's or true crime to give this book a go.
Midnight in Peking is a true-crime story based in Peking in 1937-38 during the impending Japanese occupation. A young British woman is brutally murdered and found at the base of the Fox tower in Peking on the morning after Russian Christmas, 1937. The victim, Pamela Werner, is the adopted daughter of a former British consul who lives outside the gates of the British legation and is a noted sinologist, university lecturer.The murder investigation is carried out by Han, a Chinese police detective, and the British liaison Inspector Dennis of Scotland Yard. The two detectives are unable to establish a motive for the murder and both are severely constrained by their superiors. Rumors, lies and obfuscation thwart the investigation and the case is abandoned as prewar tensions mount. Her father, E. T. C. Werner, hires his own investigators and uncovers what the detectives could not, or would not. He makes repeated attempts to obtain justice through the English bureaucratic hierarchy and is repeatedly thwarted. Following a lead from a footnote about Pamela's death in Edgar Snow's book Red Star Over China, Paul French tracks down E. T. C. Warner's investigative reports and provides the belated justice to the memory of Pamela that the British bureaucracy denied her and her father. The author does a thorough job of laying out the expatriate community in Peking including white Russians who fled the Bolshevik Revolution twenty years earlier, the European community, and some North Americans. The tensions between Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist party and Mao Tse Tung's Communist party are also covered. Though some may find this information tedious, it is information not well covered in general western education and is important to understanding the time and place of the murder.
Reviews provided by Librarything.
No reviews here.