When a young girl is found murdered wearing nothing but a torn red mandarin dress, it does not completely surprise Detective Yu. Possibly one of those material girls fallen foul of the triads or a dangerous Mr Big Bucks. Lying low after a corruption investigation that could have tainted him badly politically, Inspector Chen has taken on part-time college studies to improve his chances in the Party system, or to qualify him for an alternative career. But then a second victim, a nightclub entertainer, is found dead in a similar red dress. With the possibility of a serial killer in Shanghai waiting to strike again, Chen is pulled back to work. Struggling with a breakdown under the combined pressure of his academic deadlines and the case, he must try to stop the killer under the most unexpected circumstances.
Qiu Xiaolong was born in Shanghai. He was selected for membership of the Chinese Writers' Association and published poetry, translations and criticism in China. He has lived in the United States since 1989 and has an M.A. and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature awarded by Washington University. He has been the recipient of the Missouri Biennial Award, the Prairie Schooner Readers' Choice Award, a Yaddo and a Ford Foundation Fellowship.