Review copy was received from NetGalley, Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Magistrate by Brian Klingborg
Narrator: PJ Ochlan
Series: Inspector Lu Fei #3
Published by Minotaur Books, Tantor Audio on May 2, 2023
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Length: 11 hours, 7 minutes
Format: Audiobook, eARC
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Amazon, Audible, Audiobook, Barnes & Noble, Apple
A brutal murder investigation with connections to corruption at the very highest level threatens not just the career but also the life of Inspector Lu Fei.
The Magistrate took a different turn in style of the story. We have punishments and brutal murders but they are of the corrupt in government, law enforcement and business. They use methods from a historical tale. Lu is called in by the forensic group to help with the investigation. The group of targets doesn’t want them there and keeps trying to cover up the crimes.
Lu is our main character throughout the Inspector Lu series. He is a person of integrity and works hard to find the actual criminals. He treats others with respect and compassion. He is not interested in power and politics which only make his job more difficult.
Lu is popular in the small town where he lives now. His relationship has developed with his care and he now plans to marry his bar owner girlfriend, the widow Yanyan. His trusted co-worker is also planning to marry (a misogynist) and leave the force to stay home and be a wife. Lu thinks it is a mistake and the fiance is a jerk. So he takes her with him on the crime task force.
These crimes are in the town where Lu worked 10 years ago and was sent out because basically, he was too honest and wouldn’t go along with the corruption. He knows the players somewhat and he works on solving the crimes without their surveillance. He uncovers the bigger plot and is framed for murder because of his discovery.
I enjoyed learning about China and its culture but the politics and corruption are brutal. There are so many dangers and severe consequences with few upsides available. Dictatorship with oligarchy has all downsides unless you are at the top. You either have to be born with the wealth or extremely ruthless. I’m not thinking one can work their way up. One could get favors maybe but those would be pretty limited and at anytime one could be cut off.
There are many “bad guys” here and even the good guys are walking a fine line. Lu has decisions to make which aren’t black or white either. He perseveres even with those trying to deter him or just outright kill him. I do worry that his police work might prove dangerous to family life. I look forward to seeing how Lu navigates it, although the small town is better, he keeps getting called in to bigger investigations.
The Magistrate is my first experience with narrator, PJ Ochlan. I read the first two in the series in ebook format. I enjoyed the narration with the emotional tones in the performance. The voices were differentiated enough to recognize main characters and the accents were comfortable. I am not knowledgeable enough to know if the accents were accurate. I listened at my usual 1.5x speed.
Listen to a clip: HERE
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