Thief of Souls is the first in a new mystery series featuring Inspector Lu Fei. Set in a backwater in contemporary northern China. Lu is a graduate from China’s best police college who could reasonably be expected to be much higher up and closer to the centers of power in Beijing. His assignment to such a small town is a sign that he ruffles feathers.
When a woman is murdered in his town, though, it attracts national interest because of the gruesome details. Some of her organs were removed and money to pay for her expenses in the afterlife was placed in her mouth. Naturally, a group of crime scene technicians, a medical examiner, and a someone officious higher ranked investigator were sent to run the investigation. They are eager to close the case and are thrilled to have a convenient neighbor that they can fit to the crime. Lu is not so sure and his continued investigation trods on more than a few toes.
I enjoyed Thief of Souls quite a bit. It was absolutely fair and for that reason, I knew who the murderer was long before Inspector Lu. There should have been a couple more viable suspects just to make it difficult. Of course, as a reader I had an advantage over Inspector Lu with interludes from the killer’s point of view. I really don’t think those interludes are necessary and they quickly made the killer obvious. When they reviewed two other cases, there was a detail that should have been investigated and it was not. I noted it as a reader and was surprised Inspector Lu missed it at first.
However, other than that, I enjoyed the book. It is a good procedural that is enhanced by the details about Chinese criminal justice practices. The characters are sufficiently complex, except for a couple oafish cops on the force. There is also a good sense of place, rich in context and social texture. I hope to read more in the series.
I received an e-galley of Thief of Souls from the publisher through NetGalley.