I've read and enjoyed Qiu Xiaolong's novels, and I think he has a new one out that I haven't read yet. Recently an NPR interview with Qiu says that his novels "are gaining a faithful following, as much for their whodunit storylines as for their portrait of China in transition."
Another excerpt from the interview:
"Qiu's hero, the poetry-loving Chief Inspector Chen, pounds the pavement as he pursues murderers, triad members and corrupt officials.
Qiu is an accidental writer of thrillers. He originally made a name for himself translating T.S. Eliot's poetry and William Faulkner's novels. When he started writing his first Inspector Chen book, he didn't even realize he was writing a mystery until he'd finished."
His intention was to write a novel about contemporary China, a China in transition, and he certainly did, but the novel turned into a mystery with a detective who is caught in the midst of the changing attitudes. Qiu's own father was a victim of his own success when the Cultural Revolution was in full swing; now China celebrates business success. An irony that is not lost on Qiu who now lives in St. Louis, but who regularly visits Shanghai.
These mysteries are revealing and frightening. I simply cannot imagine the mental dexterity required in dealing with the changing political attitudes that China has undergone.