Midnight in Peking

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Penguin Group Australia, Aug 23, 2011 - Fiction - 304 pages
421 Reviews

January, 1937: Peking is a heady mix of privilege and scandal, lavish cocktail bars and opium dens, warlords and corruption, rumours and superstition – and the clock is ticking down on all of it.

In the exclusive Legation Quarter, the foreign residents wait nervously for the axe to fall.  Japanese troops have already occupied Manchuria and are poised to advance south.  Word has it that Chiang Kai-shek and his shaky government, long since moved to Nanking, are ready to cut a deal with Tokyo and leave Peking to its fate.

Each day brings a ratcheting up of tension for Chinese and foreigners alike inside the ancient city walls.  On one of those walls, not far from the nefarious Badlands, is a massive watchtower – haunted, so the locals believe, by fox spirits that prey upon innocent mortals.

Then one bitterly cold night, the body of an innocent mortal is dumped there.  It belongs to Pamela Werner, the daughter of a former British consul to China, and when the details of her death become known, people find it hard to credit that any human could treat another in such a fashion.  Even as the Japanese noose on the city tightens, the killing of Pamela transfixes Peking.

Seventy-five years after these events, Paul French finally gives the case the resolution it was denied at the time. Midnight in Peking is the unputdownable true story of a murder that will make you hold your loved ones close, and also a sweepingly evocative account of the end of an era.

Midnight in Peking has won the 2013 CWA Dagger Award for Non-Fiction.


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Well researched and a total page turner. - Goodreads
I found the writing clunky & very, very repetitive. - Goodreads
Fascinating insight into pre-war China. - Goodreads
This map is stylized, so it makes it difficult to read. - Goodreads
Great read, well researched. - Goodreads
No happy ending here. - Goodreads

Review: Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China

User Review  - Michael - Goodreads

Loved every page of this book. Well researched, fascinating story, and EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT narrative. Love the way he writes Read full review

Review: Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China

User Review  - Ethan Cramer-Flood - Goodreads

By complete coincidence I read Midnight in Peking -- a true-crime/mystery retelling set primarily in 1937 Beijing -- immediately after reading News From Tartary, which also chronicles 1930s China. The ... Read full review

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About the author (2011)

Born in London and educated there and in Glasgow, Paul French has lived and worked in Shanghai for many years. He is a widely published analyst and commentator on China and has written a number of books, including a history of foreign correspondents in China and a biography of the legendary Shanghai adman, journalist and adventurer Carl Crow.

His book Midnight in Peking was a New York Times Bestseller, a BBC Radio 4
Book of the Week, and will be made into an international miniseries by Kudos Film and Television, the UK creators of Spooks and Life on Mars.

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