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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
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

solid dramatisation

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

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • KiraNyres
  • 09-10-18

Interesting & entertaining Chinese mystery series produced by BBC radio

BBC full cast radio production of the Inspector Chen Mysteries, 9 mysteries to be exact, lived up to BBC radio standards & were a delightfully entertaining listen. Qiu Xiaolong's Inspector Chen Mystery book series was well interpreted for live radio & offers a unique rare glimpse of China's culture and local policing while following the standard English mystery book format. The Inspector Chen character reminds me of PD James Adam Dagliesh, only Inspector Chen's passion for poetry is constrained by Party Politics. I highly recommend this audiobook for mystery lovers for BBC radio production fans and anyone looking for something unique.

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  • Pam Hicks
  • 28-08-18

Very entertaining!

The poetry, as I understand, is published in a paper book. It is quite remarkable and adds to the ambiance. Small peeks into the communist party are informative, if not sad. I also enjoyed the mysteries. Highly recommend this as the narrator is marvelous.