I'm becoming softer with age. My initial reaction when I started reading this book was: What is this shit??
First of all it was a thriller and NOTHING happened. Xiaolong went on instead about the main character's Literature Paper. IN DETAIL. Eventually Chinese literature archetypes were linked to the murder case, and geez, wasn't that far-fetched. Trying to find the murderer by studying literature...you're not Umberto Eco, you know.
Now, you think if the author is so literature literate, the book will be beautifully written. Not your usual cheapness of thrillers. Ha, no, you're wrong, my friend. Qiu Xiaolong decided to introduce us to all things Chinese through the mouths of his characters. So all these poor guys and girls have to endlessly elaborate on China and Chinese culture confirming with each other random general truths. Ridiculous.
Another thing I learnt from this book is that all Chinese people constantly quote Confucius and traditional Chinese poems. And I mean - CONSTANTLY. On every page. Everybody, especially prostitutes and doormen. I have one Chinese friend, and she never quotes anything so I feel cheated. She is probably not even really Chinese. Probably from Birmingham.
Another thing was that the book was so painfully predictable, I was at least 70 pages ahead of Chief Inspector Chen and wanted to slap him on many occasions.
So why three starts, you ask? Ah, like I said. I am becoming soft.