When Red Is Black is a mystery by Qiu Xiaolong, the 3rd book in the Inspector Chen series. I've read the first 2 and will continue to read the series. They are well-written with interesting and well-developed characters whose private lives are well-balanced within the context of the plots. The series is embedded in Chinese culture and history, and I feel like I'm getting an actual taste of a foreign land. Practicing Tai Chi in the park is one of the alibis used, and as I've begun learning Tai Chi at the senior center I think the chance to do Tai Chi with a group in the park every morning sounds absolutely delightful.
from the back of the book:
When the murder of a woman is reported to the Shanghai police while Inspector Chen is on vacation, Sergeant Yu is forced to take charge of the investigation. The victim, Yin Lige, a novelist known for her banned book, has been found dead in her tiny, humble room off the stairwell of a converted multi-family house. It seems that only a neighbor could have committed the crime, for the building is kept locked at night. But there is no apparent motive. Sergeant Yu tries to unravel the reclusive woman's past and begins to realize it may have larger political implications. The Cultural Revolution might be more than 10 years in the past, but its effects can still be felt at every level of Chinese society.Blog Critics calls it an "engaging novel" and says, "The narrative of When Red is Black is clean and achieves an authentic Chinese voice without having to resort to dialect. Descriptions of Shanghai are luminous. One could almost smell the pork buns steaming in the communal outdoor kitchen or feel claustrophobic in the overcrowded Shikumen dwellings..."
Kirkus Reviews has a positive review. The NYT has an informative article about the author. Publishers Weekly says, "Deftly depicting a China fractured along class and party lines even in matters of love, Qiu also dramatically demonstrates how the past affects the daily lives of Chinese people today."