Chen Cao is an unlikely new Chief Inspector in the Shanghai Police in 1990, as he’s a poet, a scholar of T.S. Eliot, and a translator of English detective novels. In Death of a Red Heroine, a national model worker has been found murdered in a canal. The death is politically sensitive and Chen’s investigation leads him towards the son of a high-ranking cadre, which makes his position even more tenuous.
Qiu is as much concerned with the changes then happening in China—the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution and encroaching capitalism—as he is with the detective story.
Not your usual murder mystery.