Midnight In Peking, Murder In Beijing

I highly recommend Paul French‘s book “Midnight In Peking” about the 1937 murder of a young British woman.

There have been far too many reviews for me to have anything interesting to add so I will just recommend this one from USA Today. “Midnight In Peking” has made the New York Times bestseller list and the production company behind Spooks has bought the TV rights.

So what is the book about? From the blurb:

Peking in 1937 is a heady mix of privilege and scandal, opulence and opium dens, rumors and superstition. The Japanese are encircling the city, and the discovery of Pamela Werner’s body sends a shiver through already nervous Peking. Is it the work of a madman? One of the ruthless Japanese soldiers now surrounding the city? Or perhaps the dreaded fox spirits? With the suspect list growing and clues sparse, two detectives—one British and one Chinese—race against the clock to solve the crime before the Japanese invade and Peking as they know it is gone forever.

Can they find the killer in time, before the Japanese invade? Historian and China expert Paul French at last uncovers the truth behind this notorious murder, and offers a rare glimpse of the last days of colonial Peking.

While I was reading “Midnight In Peking” I vaguely remembered reading about the 2006 murder of a beautiful young Italian woman in Beijing.

Paola Sandri, a 28 year old graduate student on a short-term teaching assignment in Beijing, was brutally killed just south of Chaoyang Park, near the gate of the Beijing Art Academy (北京画院; Map), in the early morning hours of July 25. There were rumors of darker forces involved in the crime, and at least one Chinese Internet post claims Chinese men driving a Mercedes may have been involved.

The Beijing police have not solved the case and it appears that her parents have been unable to pursue justice, unlike Pamela Werner’s father.

Perhaps Paul French wants to write a sequel and can turn his prodigious investigative skills to the Sandri case and help bring closure to this tragedy?

In the meantime, “Midnight In Peking” is well worth a read.

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  • justinchina

    despite our misplaced feelings of security…i feel like there are murders of foreigners and foreign families that makes small headlines every few years. 

    • what other ones?

      • justinchina

        also…i seem to recall a Russian was knifed in SanLiTun a few years ago, too.  Not that i obsess on these things… 

      • Pete

        There was a model who was murdered in Shanghai in 2008. http://www.usatoday.com/life/people/2008-07-11-obrienmurder_N.htm

      • Cam

        There is the case of Daniel Russell, who many believe was murdered in Guangzhou.  His mother is still trying to find out exactly what happened: 

        • Cam

          Sorry, should be Darren Russell, not Daniel.

  • Huanglisha

    the italian girl is my friend’s classmate in france. my friend met her parents in beijing when they came to handle their daughter’s issue. they asked my friend to tell chinese police if one day the murderer was found, they don’t want the guy to be sentenced to death. so sad. 

  • Rosemary G

    Has anyone actually examined Paul French’s research material?

    • why?

      • Guest

        Oops, I posted in the wrong spot. Why? Because there are errors and discrepancies – too much supposition.

  • Guest

    Because there are errors and discrepancies – too much suppostion.

  • Freespirit

    Peking has been labelled as the place of unsolved murders….who knows the guy who believes being the witness of Paola’ s murder? Why doesn’t he address to the Chinese police or to Paola’ s family? Can you Bishop come into contact with the post you linked “Chinese men driving Mercedes”?