3 March 2010

Review: THE RUNNER, Peter May

published originally 2003, pub. in USA 2010 by Poisoned Pen Press
read on my Kindle, review copy suppplied by publisher
ISBN 9781590587119
250 pages

THE RUNNER is fifth in Peter May's Chinese thriller series featuring Beijing detective Li Yan, Section chief of the Serious Crime Squad, and his lover American pathologist Margaret Campbell.

China is preparing for the 2008 Olympics, and a competition in a variety of sports against the USA on home soil suffers a serious setback when their top swimmer is found hanging from the diving board at the aquatic centre. Apparently he has committed suicide.

A second death occurs when a young weight lifter dies of a heart attack during sex with the wife of a Beijing Olympic Committee official. There seems no evidence to indicate other than natural causes. Should the death get out though, it will cause create embarrassment to the Olympic Committee struggling to get China ready for the coming Beijing Olympics.

In fact Beijing appears to be in the grip of a crime wave. Li realises there have now been 6 deaths involving top level athletes, and begins to look for connecting threads.

Life is not a bed of roses either in the continuing story of Li Yan and Margaret Campbell. They are expecting a baby in four weeeks, and it is not government policy to allow a senior police officer to remain in office after marrying a foreign national. Margaret believes his marriage will entitle Li to married men's quarters. Li's father and Margare's mother will both arrrive soon for the wedding.

I have only read the first in the series, THE FIREMAKER, in this series and have always promised myself I will read more. THE RUNNER did not disappoint, and I think you could read it quite well as a stand-alone. What adds to the enjoyment of THE RUNNER is the way Peter May blends details of Chinese culture, descriptions of how Beijing is preparing for the Olympics, with forensic details related to the deaths of the athletes.

I read THE RUNNER both as a review book on my Kindle, as well as part of the 2010 Global Reading Challenge.

My rating 4.6


Other books (from Fantastic Fiction)
Beijing series
1. The Firemaker (1999)
2. The Fourth Sacrifice (2000)
3. The Killing Room (2000)
4. Snakehead (2002)
5. The Runner (2003)
6. Chinese Whispers (2004)

Enzo series
1. Extraordinary People (2006)
2. The Critic (2007)
3. Blacklight Blue (2008)
4. Freeze Frame (2010)

Other novels
The Reporter (1978)
Fallen Hero (1979)
Hidden Faces (1981)
     aka The Man With No Face
The Noble Path (1992)
Virtually Dead (2010)

2 comments:

Mason Canyon said...

This sounds like an interesting book. I haven't read any of the books in this series. I'll have to add these to my wish list. Thanks.

Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - Thanks very much for this review, as always. You make such a good point about how it can add to a book's interest if the author integrates some information on the culture of a place. To me, that can pull the reader in.

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