When Red is Black: Inspector Chen Mystery

This book has interesting information on architecture, as well as traditional Chinese literature and language.  Evidently shikumen  – or traditional Chinese dwellings developed initially for one family – when adapted for mulit-family use converted a tiny room on a landing to a room called a tinzijian.  Some writers  – being in need of cheap places to stay – are linked to this common humble space.   Urban renewal and the class, writing and literature, and even plagiarism emerge as themes of the story.  The rise of the “little secretary” and the moral ambiguity therein also adds some titilating spice to the novel about the death of an author.

Qiu mentions Twain and London, who apparently are OK with communist ideology.  That surprised me.

He also uses the phrase, “no good deed goes unpunished” which entered my lexicon long ago, and now I wonder if I got it from living in Taiwan, or if it’s in the American idiom as well.

See plot summary here on wikipedia, and buy the book on Amazon cheap – also available for Kindle.