Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Thief of Souls by Brian Klingborg
Series: Inspector Lu Fei #1
Published by Minotaur Books on May 4, 2021
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
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Lu Fei is a graduate of China's top police college but he's been assigned to a sleepy backwater town in northern China, where almost nothing happens and the theft of a few chickens represents a major crime wave. That is until a young woman is found dead, her organs removed, and joss paper stuffed in her mouth. The CID in Beijing--headed by a rising political star--is on the case but in an increasingly authoritarian China, prosperity and political stability are far more important than solving the murder of an insignificant village girl. As such, the CID head is interested in pinning the crime on the first available suspect rather than wading into uncomfortable truths, leaving Lu Fei on his own.
As Lu digs deeper into the gruesome murder, he finds himself facing old enemies and creating new ones in the form of local Communist Party bosses and corrupt business interests. Despite these rising obstacles, Lu remains determined to find the real killer, especially after he links the murder to other unsolved homicides. But the closer he gets to the heart of the mystery, the more he puts himself and his loved ones in danger.
I’m a fan of police procedurals and investigations and settings in countries other than the United States. Thief of Souls was unexpected, being set in China. I enjoyed the unfamiliar country, culture and politics. I’m not knowledgeable enough to know if things are accurate, but they didn’t seem unbelievable.
Inspector Lu Fei is our main character, and his point of view is our storyteller. He is an upstanding guy with integrity and little interest in power and politics, other than wanting to do his job and solve cases. He cares about people and treats them with respect. He’s the number 2 in the hierarchy in his remote village town. His disinterest in using his position of power makes him unusual.
Of course, there is a sensational murder and while some want to convict the first easy suspect, Lu wants to find the real criminal. To the displeasure of some in power, he investigates with meticulous efforts, slowly progressing to the truth. Truth can be a dangerous thing, but he perseveres. More than one person tries to disable him to stop him from finding the murderer and uncover unsavory truths. He links it to old cases and continues to progress, upsetting old enemies and making new ones.
I really liked Lu and rooted for him. His moral compass is solid gold and luckily his skills are too. Thankfully, he does have a few friends. I enjoyed a new world and culture with some diversity. I look forward to more in the Inspector Lu series.
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