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Bamboo and Blood

Bamboo and Blood Cover

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.

About the Author
JAMES CHURCH (a pseudonym) is a former Western intelligence officer with decades of experience in Asia.

Praise For Bamboo and Blood

Critical Acclaim for the Inspector O Series

"Church once again does a brilliant job of portraying the dysfunctional, paranoid society of modern North Korea in his third novel to feature Inspector O....While the espionage elements compel, the book's main strength, as with its predecessors, derives from the small details that enable the reader to imagine life in North Korea—and from O's struggles to maintain his principles and integrity." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Hidden Moon

“[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