Wednesday, April 28, 2021

ARC Review: Thief of Souls by Brian Klingborg

Thief of Souls

Brian Klingborg
Series: Inspector Lu Fei Mysteries (Book 1)
Publication: Minotaur Books (May 4, 2021)

Description: In Brian Klingborg's Thief of Souls, the brutal murder of a young woman in a rural village in Northern China sends shockwaves all the way to Beijing―but seemingly only Inspector Lu Fei, living in exile in the small town, is interested in justice for the victim.

Lu Fei is a graduate of China’s top police college but he’s been assigned to a sleepy backwater town in northern China, where almost nothing happens and the theft of a few chickens represents a major crime wave. That is until a young woman is found dead, her organs removed, and joss paper stuffed in her mouth. The CID in Beijing―headed by a rising political star―is on the case but in an increasingly authoritarian China, prosperity and political stability are far more important than solving the murder of an insignificant village girl. As such, the CID head is interested in pinning the crime on the first available suspect rather than wading into uncomfortable truths, leaving Lu Fei on his own.

As Lu digs deeper into the gruesome murder, he finds himself facing old enemies and creating new ones in the form of local Communist Party bosses and corrupt business interests. Despite these rising obstacles, Lu remains determined to find the real killer, especially after he links the murder to other unsolved homicides. But the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery, the more he puts himself and his loved ones in danger.

My Thoughts: This murder mystery is set in modern day China and stars Lu Fen who is a graduate of China's top police college but he's been exiled to a small town in northern China. Crimes are usually small in the town until the body of a young woman is found. She's been strangled, assaulted, and cut open to remove her lungs, liver and heart.

The easiest suspect would be a young man who want to school with her and who has been stalking her but Lu Fen isn't convinced that he's the murderer. As he looks into Yen Fenfang's life he finds other possibilities including the sugar daddy who's been paying for her apartment in Harbin.

Things get even more complicated when it is discovered that Yen Fenfang is not the first woman who was murdered in a similar fashion. Chinese record keeping isn't the most accurate record keeping since failure to solve crimes could lead to serious loss of face.

Lu Fen isn't alone in his investigation. Higher ups from Beijing come to help begin the investigation bringing big city expertise and profiling to the case. However, they head for the next crime and leave Lu Feng to continue his investigation. 

I enjoyed the story and the glimpse into modern China. I liked that Lu Fen was determined to do his job to the best of his ability despite efforts of those with more power to divert his actions. I enjoyed the mystery which had a number of twists and turns. 

Fans of international mysteries will enjoy Lu Fen's first adventure and be looking forward to more.

Favorite Quote:
Sadly, after a thousand-plus years of corruption, abuse, and incompetence, your average Chinese citizen regards the institution of law enforcement as equivalent to a pit of quicksand. A hazard that is largely avoidable--but if you are careless enough to step in it, you're probably screwed.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

1 comment:

  1. I've not read a book with modern China as a background. Should be such a change of scene.


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