The editing will drive you a big buggy. The sentences are pretty rigid. The repetition will make you want to cry a bit. You will also know who the murderer is pretty quickly. With all that, The Untouched Crime by Zijin Chen was still a fun ride and an interesting look into investigations in China.
There is a murderer who has been killing people the same way- a jump rope, a cigarette in the mouth, and a sheet of paper that reads- "come and get me." These murders have been going on for 3 years and all done in the same way (although a few pages read 5 years, hence the editing comment). Try as they might, investigators cannot find who is committing these murders.
In another part of town, a noodle shop girl accidentally kills a local gangster with the help of her admirer who followed her to keep her safe. Luo Wen, also a noodle enthusiast, witnesses the whole thing and vows to keep the shop girl and her admirer safe. He covers up the crime for them and tells them what to say to the police.
What do these two, seemingly different, murders have in common? This is part of the fun of the book. When you find out, the book transfers from a who done it to a battle of wits.
I fear whenever someone sees a 3 star review the thought will be- this must not be any good. In this case, this is a good book with a series of problems, but it was still a fun ride and a solid 3 star book. It isn't mind blowing, it won't make you think about life, but it will entertain more than anything and keep you occupied for a few hours.
There are quite a few problems within this book, but I think it is because of translation to English from Chinese. I stated a few of them above, but there are also some regionalisms that get in the way in addition to the problems stated above. The sheer amount of repetition might be fit for a Chinese audience, based on Chinese movies I have seen, but it doesn't read well. For example, when Wen tells the plan to the noodle girl and her accomplice, he will state the plan, the girl will repeat it word for word with a question mark at the end- Wen- Lie to the police. Girl- You want me to lie to the police? Wen- Yes, lie to the police if you are comfortable doing so. Guy- You want us to lie to the police? That is not a direct quote, but there is a lot of dialog like that.
Even with all the problems, I kind of enjoyed the book and wanted to see how it played out. The killer isn't a Hannibal Lector genius, but he (or is it she?) is quite clever and you get into his head quite well (ok, it is a he).
I also enjoyed how people interacted with the police and how the police did their job from a Chinese perspective. I am not sure how well researched the book is, but police take people at their word and people don't lie to police. There was a type of dishonor to do the wrong thing from either side. There are also no giant shoot out scenes, as might have happened in an American book.
This is a solid 3 star book. It isn't great, but it isn't terrible either. It would be great for an airplane or a waiting room or something along those lines.
Here is your Amazon link- The Untouched Crime by Zijin Chen
*I wish to thank NetGalley and AmazonCrossing for the advanced copy. I received the book in exchange for an honest review.