May, Peter - THE FOURTH SACRIFICE

THE FOURTH SACRIFICE (Police Procedural-Li Yan/Margaret Campbell-China-Cont) – Good
May, Peter – 2nd in series
Thomas Dunne Books, 1999, UK Hardcover- ISBN: 9780423364649

First Sentence: By now he knows he is going to die.

Chicago forensic pathologist is anxious to leave Beijing and the Chinese policeman with whom she fell in love but hasn’t heard from since their return to the city when she is asked by the American Ambassador to perform an autopsy on an American state department employee found beheaded. Detective Li Yan has been ordered not to contact Margaret or he could lose his job and is investigating the beheading death of two Chinese when he is thrown in contact with Margaret. In spite of he friction between them they need to find the killer before more people die.

May’s first book “The Firemaker,” was plot-driven and very suspenseful. This book, is character-driven and doesn’t work as well. The relationship problems are based on the cliché “big misunderstanding’ that five minutes of conversation could have resolved. There are rather large holes in the plot of information it’s hard to believe the protagonists wouldn’t have know. The villain was apparent very early in the story. What I did really enjoy about the book, and made it worth reading, is the incredible sense of place May provides the reader, cultural look at present day China and fascinating information on it’s history. In spite of its flaws, I enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in China.

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