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Summary

A burned corpse is a disturbing mystery for Beijing detective Li Yan until he enlists forensic pathologist Margaret Campbell. Having abandoned a broken life in Chicago for her work, she's as determined as Li to ask difficult questions about the man's death. But some questions have answers they'd rather not hear - facts that others are desperate to conceal. The Firemaker is the first in the acclaimed China series from Peter May, author of Runaway, Entry Island and the internationally best-selling Lewis Trilogy. 

©1999 Peter May (P)2015 WF Howes

Critic reviews

"Peter May is an author I'd follow to the ends of the earth." (New York Times)

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic Listen

A really enjoyable listen. You knew how the plot was going but there were still many many twists and turns within it that I didn't see coming. Fascinating incite to Chinese life also...Well worth a listen.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great insight into the Chinese psyche and Beijing.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Having lived in Beijing from end 1994 to 2009, I was impressed with Peter May's insight into the North Chinese psyche and Beijing. His description of the culture clash between American and Chinese culture, and the growing understanding, is done with great understanding and respect.
It was with great nostalgia I read the book, partly because the Beijing described had more og less disappeared before I left in 2009, and partly because of the many good years I spent in Beijing.

What did you like best about this story?

The insight into the motives behind the actions of the characters, both villains and heroes.

Have you listened to any of Peter Forbes’s other performances? How does this one compare?

As always an excellent performance, only marked down by a slight mispronunciation of the Chinese words, which isn't fair to mark him down by. :D

Any additional comments?

A great listen, especially if you miss Beijing as it used to be.

20 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A clash of cultures

Would you listen to The Firemaker again? Why?

Yes I would listen again to The Fire Maker again to concentrate on the detailed descriptions of life in the new China. The interactions between a self-centered american pathologist and a newly promoted chines police detective open up to the reader the big gulf that still exists between an ancient culture and the brash modern US way of thinking

Any additional comments?

I'm looking forward to the next books in the series

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • dj
  • 07-08-15

fascinating and intriguing.

an exciting combination of crime detective novels and interesting informative, fascinating description of Chinese culture.

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

interesting and easy listening

read very well again. it was interesting to gain an insight into China . I do like Peter May books. this was easy to get into and to listen to as usual but I felt the story was a little weak and unlikely. that said I will download the next one in the series.

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Finding the dragon in DNA

A good summer read, a thriller that develops well with good characters and China as a place for a modern detective team, with lots of background on the Chinese way, and the idiosyncrasies of the communist party capitalist ways.

Entertaining and with lots of twists and surprises to keep the plot moving. Much more I can not reveal because it would spoil the fun and fun it is.

11 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Roderic
  • Victoria Park, Australia
  • 09-10-15

Standard fare: good enough but no better

The main plus in this book is the attempt to describe aspects of modern China. However, Peter May's series set in the Outer Hebrides was much better at such exposition.

The characterisation in this book is not strong, the development is too predictable, and the plotting not sufficient to compensate for its other failings.

12 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent thriller

I would highly recommend this thriller. The characters were very human and believable. The storyline was also very believable. The narrator was excellent as well. I don't speak mandarin or Cantonese so obviously I can't comment on the how accurate the way street names etc were read but it sounded good to me. I will be getting the next in the series.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Tiresome Woman!

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Get Dr Margaret Campbell to buck her ideas up! I really can't imagine that a well educated woman would act so tiresomely

Who was your favorite character and why?

Li Yan - excellent characterisation of someone trying to break out of the straight jacket of bureaucracy, but not really sure whether he wants to!

Which character – as performed by Peter Forbes – was your favourite?

I like all of Peter Forbes reading and his characterisations of all are down well even the tiresome Dr Campbell.

Was The Firemaker worth the listening time?

I'm afraid I haven't finished the book, as I got so irritated with the female lead. But...I may come back to it later and in a different mood!

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant story

loved it ... could listen to the narrator forever. scary storyline as very likely to happen one day

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Jennifer Lefroy
  • 06-05-18

Sensational rubbish

The highly improbable behaviour of the female protagonist and the the gruesome descriptions of autopsies etc combine to outweigh the positives of this book. This is unfortunate as some of the other characters are very interesting as is the description of modern China with the many vestiges of its past well described. It is as though the author did not have enough confidence in his plot and ability to draw convincing characters and so added sensationalist elements to compensate. The narration was enjoyable with good differentiation of the people.