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The Inspector Chen Mysteries

A BBC Radio 4 Full-Cast Crime Series
Length: 8 hrs and 58 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (147 ratings)

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Summary

Nine BBC Radio full-cast dramatisations of the crime novels of Qiu Xiaolong, set in Shanghai. Starring Jamie Zubairi as Chief Inspector Chen Cao, an astute young policeman with twin passions for food and poetry.

Through thrilling crime drama, these nine mysteries paint a portrait of modern life in communist China, depicting traditional Shanghai life amidst the old alleyways and how it is rapidly changing with modernisation. 

Death of a Red Heroine: Shanghai, May 1990. The body of a national model worker is found in Baili Canal. Academic turned detective Chen Cao now heads up the Special Case Squad, an assignment that brings political scrutiny with every move. 

A Loyal Character Dancer: When a former dancer and party loyalist at the heart of a people smuggling operation to the USA goes missing, Inspector Chen is under political pressure to find her, tactfully host a young female US Marshall, and find the connection with a grisly Triad murder. 

When Red Is Black: When Chen agrees to do a translation job for a property developer, he is given a laptop, a 'little secretary' to provide for his every need, and medical care for his mother. There are, it seems, no strings attached...and then the murder of a dissident writer is reported. 

A Case of Two Cities: When the head of the Shanghai anti-corruption squad is found dead in compromising circumstances, Inspector Chen is drafted in as 'Special Envoy to the Emperor with an Imperial Sword'. 

Red Mandarin Dress: A serial killer is loose on the streets of Shanghai, but Chen is otherwise engaged on a high-level corruption case. With bodies appearing at the rate of one a week, the homicide team is in desperate need of help. 

The Mao Case: It's a dangerous and politically sensitive case for Inspector Chen when he is asked to investigate the sudden change of fortune of the granddaughter of Chairman Mao's mistress.

Don’t Cry, Tai Lake: Chen's lakeside holiday is interrupted by the violent death of the boss of the Wuxi Number One Chemical Company. Will his blossoming relationship with a young environmental engineer compromise his covert investigation? 

Enigma of China: Inspector Chen is called in to oversee the investigation into the death of the Director of The Shanghai Development Committee while under house arrest. He has to negotiate the power of the Party, an internet campaign and a new potential romance.

Shanghai Redempton: Inspector Chen finds himself 'promoted' sideways from the Shanghai Police Bureau, before narrowly escaping a nightclub trap and exposing a web of financial and sexual corruption. 

Dramatised by Joy Wilkinson and John Harvey.
Directed by David Hunter and Toby Swift.

©2018 BBC Worldwide Ltd (P)2018 BBC Worldwide Ltd

Critic reviews

"Witty and thrilling." (Daily Telegraph)

"A welcome alternative to Scandi-noir." (Observer)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Poetic Detection

Outstanding BBC full cast adaptation of Qiu Xiaolong’s thoughtful detective novels. Chen is up there with Maigret, Marlow and Yashim. Thinking detectives who inhabit a superbly depicted landscape of venality and corruption.

7 people found this helpful

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Excellent BBC full cast productions

Set in fast developing modern-day China, Inspector Chen is such a refreshingly original detective. Working for the one-party political regime he uses his poetic sensibility and strong, yet compassionate, moral compass to solve crimes of passion and intrigue that his party bosses would like to see disappear...

5 people found this helpful

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Better than I thought it would be

Liked the cover picture and love bbc dramas but this was better than I thought it would be. Food description mouthwatering

3 people found this helpful

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fantastic insight

Loved the stories and the commentary on Chinese life. Each story complete yet a series.

2 people found this helpful

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Interesting stories but weird dramatisation

The stories gave ann interesting and quite witty insight into contemporary China. But why choose such Britain voices for the dramatisation? Off putting

1 person found this helpful

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solid dramatisation

good listen, unique insight into a country on the move. sometimes the poetic nature of the stories seems a bit strained.

5 people found this helpful

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An unexpected delight.

The poetry and Confucius add insights into the Chinese psyche and culture. Chen is a complex man, who is at odds with the political machinations of the government.
Excellent dramatisation.

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Excellent

This has become one of my favourite audio books. Well written stories acted brilliantly kept my intetest throughout.

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surprisingly good!

I read some reviews about the poetry not quite fitting in and I didn't like the sample advertising the book....but I thought I'd give it ago....I really enjoyed all the short stories 30-40 minutes is perfect for me traveling to work. all in all very good even the poetry!

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Great fusion of orient and western life

Inspector Chen is an interesting mix of Communist Chinese life and western world. The detective stories are engrossing. Add on how Chen has to navigate the political world with powerful forces in the background