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Beijing / China Thriller Books In Order

Publication Order of Beijing/China Thriller Books

The Firemaker (1999) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Fourth Sacrifice (2000) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Killing Room (2000) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Snakehead (2002) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Runner (2003) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Chinese Whispers (2004) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Ghost Marriage (2010) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

The “Beijing series” also known as the “China Thrillers” are a series of novels by Peter May the award-winning Scottish author known for his detective thrillers. The lead protagonists of the novels are a down on her luck American pathologist Margaret Campbell, who pairs up with Li Yan a Chinese detective. The series debuted with “The Firemaker”, a critically acclaimed novel that introduced the lead characters and spawned six more titles culminating in the “Ghost Marriage” that was published in 2010. In addition to the “Beijing Serie”s he is also the author of the “Lewis Trilogy” set in the Scottish Outer Hebrides, the “Enzo Files” about Enzo Macleod a Scottish forensic scientist, and several freestanding novels. May was born in Scotland and published her first novel “The Blackhouse” of the Lewis Trilogy in 2009, after years being turned away by almost all the big publishers of the UK. The novel that “L’Humanite” hailed as a masterpiece won several awards and became one of the most popular novels in France winning the “Prix Cezam”. The novel was published in English by Quercus and became an award-winning international bestseller making the shortlist for the Macavity and Barry Awards. Before he became an award-winning author, Peter May was a very successful producer, creator, and television script writer in Britain and Scotland. As a script writer, he made his name writing three of the biggest and highest rated TV dramas in the UK before she quit to pursue her first love, writing fiction.

Peter May’s interest in China goes back to when he went to the PRC to research a book, only to find Shenzen so enticing that he decided to write a novel about China. The year was 1983 just after the Cultural Revolution, and the old ladies in the bound feet, the blue Mao suits, open air markets, and the streets full of bicycles made such a huge impression on the fledgling writer. He had an extraordinary sense of having arrived in a medieval and aspic society that was a throwback to the 1940s, and immediately knew he had to write about it. He spent much of the following eight years reading anything he could get his hands on about China including its cuisine, culture, politics and history. Returning in 1991, he spent his days exploring the city getting a sense of place, talking to people, and exploring Beijing night and day. He was interested in writing a detective novel but got nowhere until he was introduced to American criminologist and former detective Richard Ward. Ward had formed the Office of the International Criminal Justice and through his connections and contacts, got him into contact with the higher ups in the Chinese police force. One of the first Westerners to get that kind of access he made the most of the time learning about oriental policing methods that combined the traditional and ancient methods and the very latest of modern computing and international forensic techniques. Seven years of privileged access to interrogation rooms, detective offices, holding cells, police stations, pathology and forensic facilities in Shanghai and Beijing made it possible to authoritatively write the realistic stories of the “Beijing Series” of novels.

The lead characters of the “Beijing Series” are Chicago forensic pathologist Margaret Campbell who is in Beijing China on the invitation of the Chinese government. She teaches forensic pathology at the Beijing Police University though she only took the job out of desperation and frustration with life in the United States. She teams up with a newly promoted detective named Li Yan with whom she immediately has cultural and personal differences. However, they need to bury their differences and work together to solve a range of criminal acts including terrorism, fraud, and murder among others. In addition to the lead characters Margaret and Li, the novels have a range of interesting characters and great insights into Chinese culture of policing that make the stories come alive. The novels also have several intriguing subplots that includes a developing romantic relationship between Li and Margaret that makes for quite the delicious sub-story. Over the course of the novels, Campbell falls in love with Li Yan and even as she desperately wants to leave Beijing, she finds it difficult to leave him or the interesting cases which keep popping up behind. Their personal and working relationship gets even more complicated when Li is instructed not to contact the American pathologist anymore if he wanted to keep his job.

“The Firemaker” is the first novel of the Beijing Series by Peter May that introduces Chicago forensic pathologist Margaret Campbell. She has taken a high paying six-week job at Beijing Police University though she has misgivings about it, but wants to get away from a desperate situation in the United States. She arrives in Beijing with virtually nothing to declare on her forms, though she thinks she should have written a wasted life and broken heart none of which is a contagion risk. She embarks on her Chinese assignment on the wrong footing when she knocks Li Yan a senior detective with the Beijing Police force off of his bicycle. He dresses her down in perfect English throwing her off balance. But soon Li finds himself having to work with Margaret on a case when his superiors introduce her as the perfect candidate to help him resolve a mysterious case of a badly burnt corpse. Forced together by circumstances, Li and Margaret need to bury the hatchet and work to investigate a conspiracy that turns out to be a threat not only to their lives, but also to those of millions others.

“The Fourth Sacrifice”, the second novel of the series is an excellent novel that showcases May’s proficiency in writing captivating characters in the dangerous and vibrant setting of Beijing.` Margaret just made the decision to leave the man she had fallen in love with and the city of Beijing and go back to the US. She came to Beijing to give a six-week-long seminar on forensic pathology but found herself thrust into the search for a killer. She had met and fallen in love with the unlikeliest of men in Li Yan. Despite their initial enmity and differences in culture and personality, they developed an intense attraction until personal tragedies put a stop to any hopes of a happy ending. Now four men are dead and the police need answers to the bizarre murders. The four men look live victims of ritual murders and Margaret is invited into the investigation by the American ambassador since one of the men was an American citizen. She puts her pain aside and reunites with Li Yan to investigate the case. But the closer they come to resolving the murders the closer they become, even as their romance is threatened by an American archaeologist interested in Margaret.

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