Midnight in Peking

Paul French

Midnight in Peking

On a frozen night in January 1937, in the dying days of colonial Peking, a body was found under the haunted watchtower. It was Pamela Werner, the teenage daughter of the city's former British consul Edward Werner. Her heart had been removed. A horrified world followed the hunt for Pamela's killer, with a Chinese-British detective team pursuing suspects including a blood-soaked rickshaw puller, the Triads, and a lascivious grammar school headmaster. But the case was soon forgotten amid the carnage of the Japanese invasion... by all but Edward Werner. With a network of private investigators and informers, he followed the trail deep into Peking's notorious Badlands and back to the gilded hotels of the colonial Quarter. Some 75 years later, deep in the Scotland Yard archives, British historian Paul French accidentally came across the lost case file prepared by Edward Werner. Unveiling an undercover sex cult, heroin addicts and disappearing brothels, the truth behind the crime can now be told - and is more disturbing than anyone could imagine. 4.2 out of 5 based on 7 reviews
Midnight in Peking

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre True Crime
Format Paperback
Pages 272
RRP
Date of Publication May 2012
ISBN 978-0670921072
Publisher Viking
 

On a frozen night in January 1937, in the dying days of colonial Peking, a body was found under the haunted watchtower. It was Pamela Werner, the teenage daughter of the city's former British consul Edward Werner. Her heart had been removed. A horrified world followed the hunt for Pamela's killer, with a Chinese-British detective team pursuing suspects including a blood-soaked rickshaw puller, the Triads, and a lascivious grammar school headmaster. But the case was soon forgotten amid the carnage of the Japanese invasion... by all but Edward Werner. With a network of private investigators and informers, he followed the trail deep into Peking's notorious Badlands and back to the gilded hotels of the colonial Quarter. Some 75 years later, deep in the Scotland Yard archives, British historian Paul French accidentally came across the lost case file prepared by Edward Werner. Unveiling an undercover sex cult, heroin addicts and disappearing brothels, the truth behind the crime can now be told - and is more disturbing than anyone could imagine.

Read an extract from the book | Daily Mail

Reviews

The Daily Express

Michelle Davies

The shocking true tale combined with the author’s ability to write prose you can’t drag yourself away from, makes Midnight In Peking a work of non-fiction as compulsive as any bestselling crime novel. It also brings justice at last for a young woman whose murder nearly went unsolved.

27/05/2012

Read Full Review


The Literary Review

Jonathan Mirsky

At last! A thriller-diller that thrills. A whodunnit that puzzles. And it’s true, too. After over seventeen years in China, Paul French can fairly be called an old China hand. Although he lives in Shanghai, he knows Peking — now Beijing — and its sometimes dark history, and has a style worthy of Raymond Chandler: he uses ‘muscle’ for bodyguards in just the right way. And in his extensive research French, almost by luck — but luck favours the keen — uncovered a real-life septuagenarian sleuth who out-Holmesed Holmes.

01/05/2012

Read Full Review


The Scotsman

Gavin Bowd

[A] brilliant book … It is to French’s immense credit that he has managed not only to tell a gripping tale, but, with genuine human sympathy, rescued from oblivion one of the countless victims of the cruelty of history.

03/06/2012

Read Full Review


The Financial Times

Rahul Jacob

Midnight in Peking is part historical docudrama, part tragic opera. Reading Werner’s plaintive requests to the British authorities for action on leads he had uncovered, it is hard not to be reminded of the pathos of Rigoletto seeking to avenge his daughter in Verdi’s opera ... French...tells this sorry tale with the skill of an Agatha Christie.

02/06/2012

Read Full Review


The Economist

The Economist

Not only does Mr French succeed in solving the crime, he resurrects a period that was filled with glitter as well as evil, but was never, as readers will appreciate, known for being dull.

19/05/2012

Read Full Review


The Sunday Times

Andrew Holgate

French agrees with Werner’s reasoning on the murder, and makes out a convincing and gripping case for his conclusions. He is good at marshalling the evidence gathered from the archives, and particularly skilful at evoking the atmosphere of prewar Peking, with its gossip, its edginess and the bizarre and wholly unrealistic life of privilege lived by many in the expat community. Where he falls down is on style — he can’t quite escape a slightly regimented tone — and human insight. Many of the characters (particularly Werner, a man rich in dramatic possibilities) fail to ignite fully on the page. For all this, though, the book is a terrific read, and one with a remarkable coda.

27/05/2012

Read Full Review


The Sunday Telegraph

Lilian Pizzichini

French has an easy-going prose style not best suited to sustaining suspense. The machinations of bureaucracy clog up the tension but French succeeds in exposing the manoeuvrings of the elite concerned to preserve its position. In the last few chapters, which are drawn from more personal source material, we come close to the chilling truth. The unfolding events provide a thrilling momentum.

30/05/2012

Read Full Review


©2013 The Omnivore