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Don't Cry, Tai Lake: An Inspector Chen Novel    by Qiu Xiaolong order for
Don't Cry, Tai Lake
by Qiu Xiaolong
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2013 (2012)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Author Qiu Xiaolong dedicates his novel Don't Cry, Tai Lake to 'the polluted lakes and rivers in China.' While making a statement with this book about the industrial pollution that is occurring in his home country, he weaves a mystery into the pages also. A darn good one.

Chief Inspector Chen Coa of the Shanghai Police Department has a week's vacation bestowed upon him at the party's private resort in Wuxi, near Lake Tai. Not sure why he is favored with this, he nevertheless arrives, expecting seven days of relaxation by the beautiful water, eating the lake's fish, boating and possibly swimming.

The best laid plans sure do go astray. He finds the lake polluted by industrial waste from a chemical company that has almost literally killed the lake and its inhabitants. The managing director is struck a blow with the fabled blunt instrument and killed. Chen starts to investigate, but is doing it undercover with a local policeman.

He meets a young woman who warrants his attentions. A middle-aged bachelor, he doesn't see himself involved in a romantic liaison. But she is hard to resist. Working as an environmentalist, she has approached the chemical company to stop polluting. But their bottom line is more important and it costs them less to dump their waste into the lake.

Don't Cry, Tai Lake is masterly written, with an intriguing plot, well-fleshed out characters, as well as insight to a culture I know little about. A real delight.

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