Zhong Fong, convicted killer and former head of Special Investigations in Shanghai, had been exiled to an impoverished area beyond the Great Wall. After years with no communications allowed, he receives a warning telegram from a former colleague in Shanghai. Then he is picked up, brutalised and thrown into the trunk of a car by two equally viscious men: one a thugish lump of a man, one a cruel politico.
Although he is continuously tortured, infected with typhoid and cruelly beaten, it becomes clear to him (because they do not attempt to kill him) that he is "needed" for some purpose.
He finds out that the Chinese government wants him to use his investigative skills to solve an unusually hideous crime that involves the murder of 17 foreigners during a celebration on a "slut" boat on Lake Ching. By solving the murders, Fong can earn his way back from exile and back to his beloved Shanghai.
Demanding and getting his two former helpers from Shanghai: Lily a forensics expert and "Grandpa" a coroner; he sets about questioning the three brothers, inhabitants of a very inbred group of people from an island in the middle of Lake Ching, who have been accused of the crime.
Fong suspects that the killings were arranged by someone in a powerful political office in Beijing and that he has been brought up, not to find the killers, but to find the "rogue" polititian who ordered the murders. But the gruesome nature of the crime speaks of a horrid vengeance.
He finds an old cormorant fisherman who relates a tale of romantic intrigue and archaeological treasures involving a beautiful young girl from the island. Slowly he pieces together a story of infidelity and money lust which caused a convergence of motives.
This report prepared by Mildred Diamant
Four and a half years ago, Zhong Fong headed up the Special Investigations, Shanghai District. He fell from grace convicted as a political felon and spent two years in Prison. Upon release from the detention facility, Zhong was exiled beyond the Wall where he serves as a police officer in a village. Zhong is unable to step beyond the two-mile perimeter of the village and has no access to phones or computers. Instead, his only outside communication is receiving telegrams though he is not allowed to reply. Except for his hidden works of Shakespeare (stained with urine) that serves as his only reminder of his beloved deceased wife, Zhong is alone shunned by all as befitting a traitor.
A politico and a thug abduct Zhong. Though they obviously need his help, they abuse him as suiting his station in life. Soon Zhong meets Captain Chen and learns that they want the sleuth to investigate the murders of seventeen foreigners on Lake Ching. As Zhong leads the inquiries, he knows that his own life is forfeit if he fails to uncover what happened.
THE LAKE CHING MURDERS is an appealing unique police procedural that focuses on law enforcement in a land where political expediency supersedes justice. The who-done-it takes a back seat to the fascinating insight into modern day China through the characters. Zhong is a wonderful lead protagonist and the support cast augments the tale by their varying behavior toward the hero and his fall from grace status. David Rotenberg provides the audience with a fine who-done-it enhanced by a deep character study.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner