Bamboo and Blood
Bamboo and Blood
An Inspector O Novel
By James Church
Minotaur Books, Hardcover, 9780312372910, 304pp.
Publication Date: November 25, 2008
The critically acclaimed A Corpse in the Koryo brought readers into the enigmatic workings of North Korean intelligence with the introduction of a new kind of detective---the mysterious Inspector O. In the follow-up, Hidden Moon, O threaded his way through the minefield of North Korean ministries into a larger conspiracy he was never supposed to touch.
Now the inspector returns . . .
In the winter of 1997, trying to stay alive during a famine that has devastated much of North Korea, Inspector O is ordered to play host to an Israeli agent who appears in Pyongyang. When the wife of a North Korean diplomat in Pakistan dies under suspicious circumstances, O is told to investigate, with a curious proviso: Don’t look too closely at the details, and stay away from the question of missiles. O knows he can’t avoid finding out what he is supposed to ignore on a trail that leads him from the dark, chilly rooms of Pyongyang to an abandoned secret facility deep in the countryside, guarded by a lonely general; and from the streets of New York to a bench beneath a horse chestnut tree on the shores of Lake Geneva, where the Inspector discovers he is up to his ears in missiles---and worse. Stalked by the past and wary of the future, O is convinced there is no one he can trust, and no one he can’t suspect. Swiss intelligence wants him out of the country; someone else wants him dead.
Once again, James Church’s spare, lyrical prose guides readers through an unfamiliar landscape of whispered words and shadows, a world wrapped in a level of mystery and complexity that few outsiders have experienced. With Inspector O, noir has a new home in North Korea, and James Church holds the keys.
Critical Acclaim for the Inspector O Series
“[Hidden Moon] . . . is like nothing else I’ve ever read. . . . Church creates an utterly convincing, internally consistent world of the absurd where orders mean the opposite of what they say and paperwork routinely gets routed to oblivion.” ---Halle Ephron, The Boston Globe
“The book’s often sharp repartee is reminiscent of Raymond Chandler’s dialogue, while the corrupt North Korean bureaucracy provides an exotic but entirely convincing noir backdrop. . . . Like Marlowe and Spade before him, Inspector O navigates the shadows and, every now and then, finds truth in the half-light.” ---Marina Malenic, The Wall Street Journal
“Church uses his years of intelligence work to excellent advantage here, delivering one duplicitous plot twist after another. . . . The author’s affection for the landscape and people of Korea is abundantly evident. . . . A stunning conclusion.” ---The Washington Post
“Hidden Moon reads more like a spy novel by a Korean Kafka. Final word: fascinating.” ---Rocky Mountain News
“Church’s spartan prose is a perfect match for the sparseness of the North Korean landscape.” ---Charleston Gazette
“The real pleasure of Hidden Moon is its conversations, loaded down with layers of secrecy and suspicion that surface words are meaningless in the face of buried intention.” ---The Baltimore Sun
A Corpse in the Koryo
“A crackling good mystery novel, filled with unusual characters involved in a complex plot that keeps you guessing to the end.” ---The Washington Post
“An impressive debut that calls to mind such mystery thrillers as Martin Cruz Smith’s Gorky Park.” ---Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A new offering that reminds you of why you started reading mysteries and thrillers in the first place.” ---The Chicago Tribune
“Impressive . . . the author has crafted a complex character with rough charm to spare, and in eternally static North Korea, he has a setting that will fascinate readers for sequels to come.” ---Tim Morrison, Time magazine, Asia edition