Almost everyone loves a good crime story or murder mystery, and the Chinese are no exception.
Zhou Haohui, a 41-year-old school teacher, has written a series of potboilers called “Death Notice.” In fact, American readers can get a taste of the books when Doubleday publishes the first of three of the novels later this year.
Set in Chengdu, which is known as the home of the Chinese pandas, “Death Notice” follows Capt. Pei Tao as he and other detectives attempt to track down a shadowy vigilante who sends letters, or death notices, to people he believes have gotten away with crimes.
One of those is a wealthy woman who ran over a roadside vendor with her BMW, killing him. But she escapes punishment because of her husband’s political connections.
The vigilante sends her a death notice and kills her.
The novel has some Chinese twists. For example, Pei seems to be a lone wolf in the early chapters of the book but falls into line when his maverick behavior is criticized by his commanding officer. Also, the investigative task force lives together in the same dormitory, a common practice for Chinese police on an important case.
But there are some real-life crime mysteries that have confounded police in China.
In 1995, a 19-year-old chemistry major at one of China’s top universities in Beijing was poisoned, leaving her blind and mentally impaired. Investigators determined that he was poisoned with thallium, a heavy metal used in Chinese rat poison. A culprit was never charged, although the chief suspect was her roommate, a student from a well-connected family. A few years later, Chinese suspected the roommate had secretly moved to the United States. An online petition demanded that President Obama have her arrested and sent back to China to face prosecution.
www.supchina.com, a favorite website among China watchers, have pieced together some of the most famous cases.
Among the most notorious was The Black Dahlia of Nanjing, a former capital of China.
Nanjing University student Diao Aiqing, 19, was cut up into more than 2,000 pieces, which were deposited in plastic bags around the campus. Diao had been just three months into her freshman year at the Adult Education College of Nanjing University when she’d gone missing.
As supchina put it: “Police were at a loss about what had happened after Diao had angrily left her dorm, saying she was going for a walk. She’d argued with her roommates over a petty infraction that university administrators had chosen to collectively punish the dorm for, but Diao’s fellow students had no serious motive nor explanation for how or why she would meet such a gruesome demise. And the remains, such were their piecemeal state, offered few clues.”
If you’re looking for some summer reading, see more at https://supchina.com/2018/05/30/china-unsolved-the-black-dahlia-of-nanjing/