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When Red is Black

When Red is Black

Titel: When Red is Black
Autoren: Qiu Xiaolong
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Secretary Li could not find Chief Inspector Chen Cao, Yu’s boss on the special case squad, at this late hour. There was an urgent new case—a murder—so he was calling Yu.
    “Yin Lige,” Yu repeated the name of the murder victim after putting down the phone. Li had not explained much except that it was politically imperative to solve the case. Yin must have been well known, Yu assumed, or the case would not have been assigned to their squad, which dealt with crimes with political implications. However, he could not think of anything in association with that name. Yin was not a common Chinese surname, and if she had been famous, he should have heard of her.
    “Yin Lige!” Peiqin spoke for the first time, repeating Yu’s words.
    “Yes. Do you know anything about her?”
    “The author of Death of a Chinese Professor. The name of the professor was Yang Bing.” She added, drying her feet with the towel, “What happened to her?”
    “She was murdered in her home.”
    “Is the government involved?” Peiqin asked, cynically.
    He was taken aback by her response. “The bureau wants us to solve the case in the shortest time possible. Party Secretary Li said so.”
    “Everything may be political for your Party Secretary Li.”
    She might be referring to the way some investigations were conducted under Li, but also, possibly, to the withdrawn housing assignment. Peiqin suspected that the state-run corporation three-way-debt explanation Li had given was only as an excuse to take back the apartment. Yu had no political clout at the bureau.
    Yu himself had suspected this, but he did not want to discuss it now. “What was Yin’s book about?”
    “The book was based on her personal experience. It’s about an old professor falling in love during the Cultural Revolution. It received a lot of media attention, and was controversial for a while.” Peiqin got up, holding the basin in her hand. “Shortly after its publication, it was banned.”
    “Let me help you,” Yu said, carrying the basin out to the courtyard sink. She followed him outside in her slippers. “There are a lot of books about the Cultural Revolution. What made hers so special?”
    “People say that some descriptions in the book are too realistic, too full of bloody details for the Party authorities to swallow,” she said. “The novel attracted critical notice abroad, too. So the official critics called her a dissident.”
    “A dissident, I see. But the book is about the Cultural Revolution, about the past. If she’s not involved in today’s freedom-and-democracy movement, I cannot see why the government would have had to get rid of her.”
    “Well, you have not read the book.”
    Maybe Peiqin was still reluctant to talk, he thought, after this curt reply. Or maybe she didn’t want to talk to him about books. That was one difference between them. She read, he didn’t—usually.
    “I’ll read it,” he said.
    “What about Chief Inspector Chen?”
    “I don’t know. Li cannot find him.”
    “So you will investigate this case.”
    “I think so.”
    “If you have questions about Yang—sorry, about Yin—I may be able to help,” she offered. “I mean, if you want to know more about the book. I will have to read it again, I think.”
    He was surprised by this offer. As a rule, he did not discuss his cases at home, nor did she show much interest in them.
    This evening she was volunteering to help, after having said practically nothing to him for days. Well, it was progress.
    * * * *

Chapter 2
    n offer he can’t refuse.
    Chief Inspector Chen Cao, of the Shanghai Police Bureau, knew nothing about the case assignment Detective Yu had just been given by Party Secretary Li, when a line from The Godfather came into his mind. He was sitting in an elegant bar, opposite Gu, CEO of the Shanghai New World Group, a startup with both government and triad connections. Taking a leisurely sip of the French red wine in his glass, which scintillated under the dazzling crystal chandelier, he reflected on the irony of the situation. Their table by the window commanded a superb view of the Bund, the embankment that runs along the harbor south of the Customs House. The water of the river shimmered under the ceaselessly changing neon lights. At the table next to them sat a European man with a Chinese girl, talking in a language foreign to
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