Cover image of "A Drop of Chinese Blood," a disappointing murder mystery

Get this: the principal characters are named Bing, Ding, Jang, Wu, Hu, and O. Perhaps Chinese or Korean speakers can keep all these names straight, but I sure couldn’t. Of course, I might have found it easier if the plot were comprehensible. It was anything but. Even after reading through to the last page (for reasons that escape me now), I didn’t really understand what had happened. A Drop of Chinese Blood is that confusing.

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

A murder mystery for Inspector O to solve

In the fifth (and to date the last) novel in the Inspector O series, James Church introduces Inspector O’s nephew, Major Bing, the long-suffering chief of the Chinese Ministry of State Security operations on the border with North Korea. Uncle O himself plays a subordinate role. As we learned in the previous four novels, O was a highly unconventional policeman. He was often out of favor with key members of the North Korean regime. O survived for many years only because his grandfather had been a hero of the revolution. In the end, though, even that wasn’t enough. He was forced to flee to China, where he now lives with his nephew.

A Drop of Chinese Blood (Inspector O #5) by James Church ★★☆☆☆

Koreans, Chinese, and Mongolians

So far as I can tell, the story in A Drop of Chinese Blood revolves around a plot by the Chinese government to outmaneuver the South Koreans in obtaining coal and iron ore from Mongolia. Police officers and intelligence officials from all three countries get involved somehow. So does “the most beautiful woman in the world,” a beauty queen who has ties to the underworld. There are a great many crooks on the scene as well. The action unfolds in a small town in northeast China near the North Korean border, in and around Ulan Bator, Mongolia, and, briefly, in North Korea as well. What happens in all these places, much less why, is a mystery.

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