Minotaur Books | 4 May 2021 | 288 pgs
Set in a rural village in Northern China (near Harbin which is well-known for its bitterly cold winters and ice-sculptures festival), a young woman named Yang Fenfang was brutally murdered. Her mouth stuffed with "hell notes" and a few of her organs (heart, lungs and liver) removed, the police had initially speculated it might be a case of organ trafficking and that the stuffed hell notes was more of a religious angle as to make offerings to the dead. Yang was first discovered by her neighbour after her dog couldn't seem to stop barking, leading them to explore her house and thus found her body in the bathroom.
Lu Fei was graduated from a top police college but was later exiled to work in the rural village as Deputy Chief of the local Public Security Bureau station after a fallout with his superior from the Harbin headquarters due to a clash of personalities and most of all, their different views on principles and morality. Despite the exile and demotion, Lu Fei has gradually gotten accustomed to the laid-back rural living and the small station under the leadership of Chief Liang. Since there's hardly any major case in the village, Yang's murder is considered a rare and a high profile case so Superintendent Song, Deputy Director of the Criminal Investigation Bureau in Beijing is assigned to look into the case together with Chief Liang's team. Their initial investigation leads to a local man who works as a butcher and had had an infatuation with Yang, but Lu Fei dismisses him as a suspect due to his simple mindedness and a lack of valid evidence. With political games and an authoritarian system within the governmental bureau hierarchy, Lu Fei realises that he has to dig further into the case on his own even if he has to face old enemies and creating new ones in the form of local Communist Party bosses and corrupt business interests.
Brian Klingborg's Thief of Souls was a refreshing read apart from my usual reads of the psychological suspense genre. With a likeable character like Lu Fei and an intriguing setting with authoritarianism and politics as part of the elements, this book was a compelling read right from the beginning till the end. The characters development was great (there were a few interesting secondary characters too and I hope to see them in the next book, Wild Prey) and most of all, I enjoyed reading about the complicated relationship between Lu Fei and Song from their clashing personalities to their gradual trust and respect of each other as the story progresses. Aside from these, I also liked it that the author input various quotes from the Chinese history, poetry, philosophy, customs and beliefs into narratives (in particularly Lu Fei) which add some depth to the story. The description of the Chinese government bureaucracy was well defined too so overall a very engaging read. Recommended.
© 2021 Melody's Reading Corner (https://mel-reading-corner.blogspot.sg/), All Rights Reserved. If you are reading this post from other site(s), please take note that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.