One of China's top three suspense authors wrote Death Notice.

Zhou Haohui, author of Death Notice, is referred to in the biography at the end of the novel as “one of the top three suspense authors in China today.” The statement leaves me puzzled. Perhaps something’s been lost in the translation from the Chinese to English, but it’s hard to believe that this novel is one of the best that a country of 1.4 billion people could produce. Oh, it’s intricately plotted, and suspenseful. The author is clearly a professional writer. But the characters are wooden, their motivation sometimes hard to grasp, and the story is simply hard to believe in the final analysis.

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

The writer is said to be one of China’s top suspense authors

Death Notice might be characterized as a police procedural. But the intense distrust among the police officers who are the principals in this tale just doesn’t come across as credible. And the serial killer who is the bad guy here is impossibly competent. I can’t imagine how any killer, no matter how brilliant, could possibly pull off the series of crimes Zhou Haohui describes.

Too bad. I was hoping for much better from one of “China’s top three suspense authors.”

Death Notice by Zhou Haohui (2018) 303 pages ★★★☆☆

I’ve also reviewed a Chinese “detective” novel from the Ming Dynasty: The Chinese Maze Murders (Judge Dee #1) by Robert van Gulik. My review is at A fascinating Chinese detective novel. And you’ll find a list of 12 insightful books about China reviewed on this site.

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