How much of history is a blurb in a book or document and never investigated further? How much history gets lost that would actually open the doors of the past up further? Paul French explores this through his book, Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China.
This is the story of Pamela Werner who goes out skating with friends only to be found in the wee hours of them morning as a dismembered corpse. The investigation into her death becomes complicated. Doubts arise as to who is telling the truth with the many cultures involved. The past of everyone comes out and begins to make the already murky waters even muddier. It becomes the story of the investigation and all the parties involved in the crime. This makes it a very intricate story that will keep the reader hooked to the very last page.
The book starts off as a fiction book, or at least that is I was reading it. It was only after most see the case as unsolvable that the tone switches to more of a non-fiction investigative piece. There are several graphic scenes as the state of the body is described and can be unsettling for anyone with weak stomachs. I was borderline sick reading it though it could have been from the fact that some human actually carried out such an act.
The various cultures are explored which adds a very interesting depth to this book. I am very ignorant of Asian history so the presence of these cultures was a surprise. Involved in the investigation of Miss Werner are native Chinese, British subjects, Americans, and Russians. Each play a part in the history of the period and the murder.
This is a very good book. It sparked a deeper interest in this period of history for me and a desire to learn more. If you enjoy history and mystery, I think this is a book you will enjoy. Once again, there are scenes that are rather gruesome.
I reviewed an advance kindle copy that contained formatting issues. These should have been resolved in the final copy. Even with these issues, the read was not affected.
Make this one of your summer reads. You won’t regret it.
Note: This book was provided to me by the publisher with no expectation of a positive review.