When Chief Inspector Chen Cao is offered a week's break at a luxurious resort near Lake Tai, he accepts immediately. Increasingly worn out by the politics of his job, the opportunity to relax and recover sounds like heaven. But the beautiful lake he remembers is much changed: covered by algae, its waters have been polluted by waste from local manufacturing plants. Even the local food is dangerous to eat. Is this the cost of progress in the new China? Then his holiday is fatally disturbed: the boss of one of the most polluting businesses has been murdered and the leader of a local ecological group is the prime suspect. Inspector Chen must tread carefully if he is to uncover the truth behind the death and find justice for both the victim and the accused.
Qiu Xiaolong (pronounced 'Joe Shau-long') was born in Shanghai. The Cultural Revolution began in his last year of elementary school, and out of school, out of job, he studied English by himself in a local park. In 1977, he began his studies at East China Normal University in Shanghai, and then the Chinese Academy of Social Science in Beijing. After graduation, he worked at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences as an associate research professor, published poems, translations and criticism, and became a member of the Chinese Writers' Association. In 1988, he came to Washington University in St. Louis, U.S. as a Ford foundation fellow to do a project on Eliot, but after the Tiananmen tragedy of 1989, he decided to stay on. He then obtained a Ph.D. in comparative literature at Washington University and taught there. Having won several awards for his poetry in English, he moved on to write a novel about contemporary Chinese society in transition, which developed into the critically acclaimed, award-winning Inspector Chen series. The series has been translated into sixteen languages. In addition, Qiu Xiaolong has published a poetry collection, several poetry translations, and a collection of linked stories (also serialized in Le Monde). He lives in St. Louis with his wife and daughter.