Death of a Red Heroine Summary & Study Guide

Qiu Xiaolong
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Death of a Red Heroine Summary & Study Guide Description

Death of a Red Heroine Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

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Death of a Red Heroine by Qiu Xiaolong is a murder mystery infused with politics and poetry. It is set in Shanghai, China in the early 1990s. Chief Inspector Chen is an honorable police officer tasked with solving the murder of a national celebrity. When the chief suspect turns out to be an influential figure in the Communist Party, Chen must negotiate the dangerous waters of party politics in order to bring the killer to justice. Death of a Red Heroine mixes the traditional elements of a mystery into a political thriller and ties everything together with poetry and romance. It is an English language novel from a Chinese writer who grew up in Shanghai before moving to the United States.

When the body of Guan Hongying is pulled from a canal, her murder case is assigned to Chief Inspector Chen of the Shanghai special case squad. Chen is an unusual police officer, promoted because of Communist Party politics and seemingly more interested in poetry than police work. At first the case seems to have no leads and Chen is willing to pass it on to another department, but when the identity of the victim is confirmed, Chen takes the case. Guan was a national celebrity and the case has political ramifications.

Chen becomes consumed with the case. His personal life suffers and a budding romance falls apart when his girlfriend decides to return to her husband. He has to fight against the interference of Party representatives in order to progress in the case. His investigation leads towards Wu Xiaoming, the son of an important Party leader and an influential man in his own right. Wu, though married, had been having a covert affair with Guan. The identity of the suspect and his high connections as well as an ongoing feud with his Party adviser leaves Chen vulnerable to political attack.

Unable to find a compelling motive, Chen is taken off the case and himself put under investigation for his unorthodox investigation methods. With the backing of a close group of friends and the help of an old girlfriend with whom he reunites, he continues the investigation surreptitiously and discovers that Guan had been blackmailing Wu in an effort to get him to leave his wife. Her actions jeopardized Wu's promising political career, so he killed her.

When Chen takes his evidence to his mentor, Party Secretary Li, the killer is seemingly brought to justice. Wu is arrested, tried, and executed for corrupt and immoral behavior. The Communist Party hierarchy uses him as an example to launch a campaign against Western immoral behavior. Chen is discouraged by this turn of events but realizes that he can best serve himself and his country by acting as a conscientious police officer regardless of party politics.

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This section contains 467 words
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