Death Notice by Zhou Haohui
PUBLISHED BY DOUBLEDAY
REVIEW BY VERONICA LAKE
Set in China, in the city of Chengdu, this fast paced novel – the first of a trilogy – presents its story at a helter skelter pace with old murders, new murders, betrayals, corruption and hard core action all the way.
It is part of the new wave of crime fiction growing popular in China. The translation from Mandarin is well done, the English is fluent and Western audiences will slide easily into the narrative.
The story opens with reference to a murder committed eighteen years ago and the legendary Detective Zheng on the trail. The name Eumenides is the alias employed by the killer. Eumenides is a fury, a mythological Greek creature that would hunt down its quarry until retribution is achieved. They were ruthless and effective creatures of destruction. The murders in the text were committed as acts of judgement on individuals who have had their bad deeds itemised and received an execution notice before being killed.
Detective Zheng believes the killer has resurfaced after eighteen years and is close to tracking him/her down. Pei Tao, an outsider, is a secondary investigator who is also involved, and who picks up the action even though the local police force is far from supportive.
This narrative unfolds very quickly, with scene after scene of confrontation, revelation, flashbacks and explanation. Eumenides has plenty of scope for meting out punishment in a bizarre kind of justice as the police force is riddled with corrupt individuals and it is hard to work out who is good and who is bad. Somehow, Eumenides knows and acts accordingly.
The novel ends with an unveiling of the original murderer, but leaves many threads of the story unresolved and ready for the next instalment. A new Eumenides has been groomed to carry on his role as a nemesis for those unpunished and Pei Tao vows to track him down.
If you like fast-paced detective crime, this is the novel for you. It has plenty of energy and lots of twists in the tale.
Find this novel in store at Planet Books. Ask the friendly staff for guidance too, and they’ll be more than happy to order you in a copy if it’s already sold out.