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

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Penguin Books, 2013 - History - 260 pages
22 Reviews
As 1936 gave way to 1937, the people of Peking waited nervously for the axe to fall. The encirclement by the Japanese army was tightening daily and troop skirmishes were on the rise. The Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek had fled south to Nanking, where some said he was ready to cut a deal with Tokyo and leave the people of Peking to their fate. In the opium dens of the notorious Badlands the partying was harder than usual, while the wealthy foreigners of the Legation Quarter were making the most of their final days of privilege. Each new day brought a racheting up of tension inside the city walls. On one of those walls, the ancient Tartar Wall, was a massive watchtower, built in the fifteenth century to keep out invaders. The locals believed the Fox Tower to be haunted at night by fox spirits that preyed upon innocent mortals. Then one bitterly cold January night, the body of an innocent mortal was dumped there. It belonged to English schoolgirl Pamela Werner, the daughter of a well-known Old China Hand and past British Consul. When the depraved nature of her murder became known, it was hard to fathom that any human could treat another in such a fashion. In a city more than usually prone to rumour and gossip, the killing of Pamela raised the panic to a whole new level.
 

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User Review  - ladycato - LibraryThing

French pieces together the events of a murder that scandalized Peking on the brink of a full Japanese invasion. Pamela Werner was days away from turning twenty when her body was found at the base of ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - bell7 - LibraryThing

January, 1937. Peking was on the verge of invasion by the Japanese; China was on the verge of a Communist revolution; the world was on the verge of war. One 19-year-old Englishwoman was found dead not ... Read full review

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Contents

The Approaching Storm
3
Wild Dogs and Diplomats
35
An Old China Hand
71
Cocktail Hour at the Wagons Lits
89
Into the Badlands
105
Of Rats and Men
119
Under Peking Earth
133
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About the author (2013)

Paul French lives in Shanghai, where he is a business advisor and analyst He frequently comments on China for the English-speaking press around the world. French studied history, economics, and Mandarin at university and has an M.Phil in economics from the University of Glasgow.

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