Qiu Xiaolong’s police procedural novels, featuring Shanghai police inspector Chen Cao, have gradually shifted from the earlier themes dealing with the deep wounds left by the insanity of the 1960s’ Cultural Revolution, and have more recently focused on social issues more relevant to present-day China. His previous work, “Don’t Cry, Tai Lake,” dealt with whistle-blowers trying to halt the industrial pollution of a famous scenic lake in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province.

“Enigma of China” begins with the suspicious death of Zhou Keng, director of the Shanghai Housing Development Committee, who was placed under “special detention,” called shuanggui, after an anonymous netizen posted a photo on one of China’s micro-blogs showing Zhou smoking a deluxe brand of cigarette — supposedly far beyond the budget of a mid-level public servant. Chen is called in after Zhou is found hanging in his room at the high-security hotel where he was detained.

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