Although this book takes place in modern China, there are enough references to the years of the Cultural Revolution to warrant its inclusion on this site. Plus, the author gives us an engaging young private detective, Mei Wang, who struggles to find her place in todays capitalist China. Forsaking her secure position in the prestigious Ministry for Public Security, Mei has asserted her independence but lessened her status by opening up a detective office and hiring a male secretary. One case leads to an investigation of a missing Han Dynasty jade piece. Could it have survived the Red Guards destruction of relics, the fate of many such cultural items? Memories of her own childhood with her father in one of Maos remote labor camps, and the secrets of older survivors of these years are uncovered in the process of her search. At the same time, Wei faces family displeasure by rejecting the accepted path of achieving status and potential influence and weath through whom you know (guansi), where you work, and whom you marry.
Author Wei Liang brings her own experience spending part of her childhood with her parents in a labor camp and being part of the Student Democracy Movement and protest in Tiananmen Square to the story. The books attention to uncovering the mystery surrounding the jade, however, is often submerged under the heroines family dramas and the fulsome, although interesting, descriptions of Beijings food, housing, and street life.
The first in the Mei Wang mystery series