• Title: Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China
  • Author: Paul French
  • ISBN: null
  • Page: 352
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Midnight in Peking How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China Peking in 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
    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 suspePeking 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.Winner of the both the Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime and the CWA Non Fiction Dagger

    One Reply to “Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China”

    1. If you've picked this book up expecting yet another true-crime novel filled with the titillating and tantalizing details that normally make these books sell well, forget it -- you've got the wrong book. By the very nature of the title, it should be very clear that there's going to be some historical component to this book, so don't be surprised. Part history, part cold-case mystery, Midnight in Peking began literally as a footnote the author happened to read in a biography of Edgar Snow, an Amer [...]

    2. I put this book in my "Global detective fiction" shelf, though let me say right away that it is not fiction. I enjoyed every minute of this book and it ended all too soon.The time is 1937 and the place is the area in and around the Foreign Legation quarters in old Peking. Politics all over the world are in turmoil with events leading to WWII taking place in Europe, and in China the brutal Japanese are invading and the already feeble nationalist government is on the ropes.A nearly-19 year old Eng [...]

    3. Peking, January, 1937, and the body of white teenager Pamela Werner is discovered in the early hours of the morning. Her body has been viciously mutilated, her face damaged nearly beyond recognition, and her heart cut out. The murder caused an enormous scandal across the Empire – who killed Pamela?I suppose “spoilers” - even though it’s recorded history! In Midnight in Peking, Paul French revisits this long-forgotten crime in an attempt to find answers to the unsolved cold case. The stor [...]

    4. This is a REALLY hard book to review. There is just so much meat there.It might be beyond my ability to actually convey the gist of this. It's that complex. It's not only a particular and very complicated (terrible, horrific- put 10 other grizzly adjectives here) murder case at all. It is an intricately researched and described window into the reality of 1937 Peking. Not only in the demographics, the politico, the varying class economics- but also and at the prime center is the Legislation Quart [...]

    5. Non lasciarmi solaMi piacciono moltissimo i libri che, partendo da avvenimenti veri, riescono a intrigare, avvincere e a restituire una realtà storica poco conosciuta.Questo libro di Paul French è uno di questi. L'ambiente, quello della Cina della fine anni trenta, viene descritto nei suoi minimi dettagli, con la sua povertà, il suo oppio, i suoi bordelli, i suoi stranieri colonialisti che, vivendo nel lusso, facevano impunemente il bello e il cattivo tempo riuscendo sempre a mettere a tacere [...]

    6. BOTW Dongbianmen (Tung Pien Men) Fox Tower - circa 1910 - photograph taken from the Tartar Wall. How it looks today. This is the site of the body. I have walked there! Pamela Werner at Tientsin Grammar School, 1936.By Paul French.Read by Crawford LoganC Blurberoonies: On a frozen night in January 1937, in the dying days of colonial Peking, the body of a young woman was found in the shadows of a haunted watchtower. It was Pamela Werner, the daughter of the city's former British consul Edward Wern [...]

    7. Chinese New Year will never be the same as author Paul French takes us back to Peking 1937. This is a true crime story about the shocking murder of a British teenager and the determined pursuit for justice that her Father failed to find in his lifetime.It is written by an historian Paul French; this isn't a stuffy text book though but a loving retelling of crime that captured his imagination. He uses all his skills in research to bring old Peking to life and explain the various forces at work th [...]

    8. As implied in the title, the central character of this book is Peking itself. Rather than the political and cultural center it is today, pre-war Peking was a depressed second tier city, particularly for the beached ex-patriot community of some three thousand residents. Tientsin, approximately 70 miles to the south, and far off Shanghai, over 600 miles south, were both more prosperous with their long history as commercial hubs and treaty ports. Peking, on the other hand, had been overrun by compe [...]

    9. Amazing! - Paul French is an excellent writer and with Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China has made an already very interesting story truly fascinating. The descriptions of life in Peking in the 1930s & 40s create a rich backdrop to this 'murder mystery' and I loved the way French slowly opened our eyes to the connections and interconnections between people of every class layer in this very small world. I also loved how the evidence w [...]

    10. Tuttavia si tratta solo di un’illusione, poiché in realtà tutto è cambiato e nulla rimane come prima.Ottimo libro. Qualcuno lo ha già detto e descritto meglio di quanto possa fare io. Si tratta di una storia vera: l'efferato omicidio di una ragazza bianca in Cina, sul finire degli anni trenta. L'indagine è accompagnata da un escursus storico- culturale molto interessante e approfondito riguardante la Cina, in particolare Pechino e dintorni, dall' inizio del XX secolo alla seconda guerra m [...]

    11. Crossposted at BooklikesSometimes you read a book and wonder why the hell it won all the acclaim listed on the cover. This is not one of those books.French’s work details the investigation of a murder of a young English in Peking just before the onslaught of the Japanese. To say that the book is engrossing would be an understatement, and to say that the whole book is engrossing would also be wrong. It does start off very slow but picks up around page 40. French keeps the reader’s attention b [...]

    12. Bloody brillant true crime book. This Paul French fellow knows how to write an awesome non-fiction tale to satisfy my personal tastes.Full review to come later.

    13. Pamela Werner lived in the storied Chinese city of Peking, on a street called Armour Factory Alley, with her father E.T. C. Werner, a retired consul and noted expert on Chinese language, history, and culture. In 1911, Werner had married Gladys Nina Ravenshaw, “a girl of the British Empire.” She was 22; he was 45.In 1919, they adopted Pamela. Gladys lived a mere three years longer, dying at age 35 and leaving her three-year-old daughter in the care of her husband and various servants of the h [...]

    14. ‘The evil that men do lives after them’ This is a fascinating story of a true-life crime committed in the last days of old Peking as the threat of invasion, war and revolution spread fear amongst the Chinese and foreign inhabitants of the city. Author Paul French has researched the murder of 19-year-old Pamela Werner thoroughly and tells the tale well. Was Pamela an innocent schoolgirl or an independent and rebellious young woman bent on sampling some of the excitements Peking could offer? W [...]

    15. This sounds like an Agatha Christie novel but it is, in actuality, the true story of the particularly horrific murder of a young English woman in Peking. Things were changing in China in 1937Chiang Kai- shek was holding power in part of the country, the Communists were fighting for primacy, and the Japanese were already on the ground taking town after town. The huge country was in turmoil and many of the non-Chinese, feeling safe in their Legations in the Port Treaty cities were feeling safe and [...]

    16. All the traditional elements of a great murder mystery are here: exotic locale in 1930s Peking, West vs East, a dead young woman who was a bit of a rebel, corrupt or ineffective police, cover-ups, an obsessive father, seamy underbelly of Peking populated by thugs, slimy rich guys, pimps and working girls. A story that could easily have been shifted overseas and written up as fiction by Ian Rankin. ARC from Penguin via giveaway.

    17. Midnight in Peking is an intriguing book which looks at the gruesome murder of Pamela Werner at the same time as the Japanese were poised to invade ChinaC Werner was Pamela’s adoptive father, a retired Consul who was an academic of Chinese with a particular interest in mythology and language. When his daughter Pamela failed to come home that cold winter’s evening in 1937 he searched for her, sadly her mutilated body was found at the bottom of Fox Tower with her heart and other organs removed [...]

    18. This is a really interesting and evocative true crime novel, set in Peking as it is poised on the brink of WWII. On a bleak January morning in 1937, the body of a young girl is found at the bottom of Fox Tower, a looming watchtower rumoured to be haunted by spirits. The girl is nineteen year old Pamela Werner and the motive is not robbery, as her expensive watch has stopped near midnight. The murder shocks the foreign inhabitants of Peking, who are already nervous about the possibility of invasi [...]

    19. Early in the afternoon of January 7, 1937, Pamela Werner, nineteen year old daughter of the former British Consul in Peking, told her father that she was going out to meet a friend and go ice skating. The rink was located in the area of Peking that was inhabited exclusively by diplomats and ex pats from various countries. The next morning Pamela's horrifically mutilated body was found at the foot of the mysterious Fox Tower. Two detectives -- one Chinese and one British were assigned to the case [...]

    20. I loved this book because of the very human story it told. The author brought every puzzle piece, every emotion & every motive of all involved so close & i really gained an understanding of what might have been in the midst of this city with the big historical events as a backdrop. To be able to report on the big picture as well as the little picture is no small feat. To hear about a father never giving up his search for the killers of his daughter, against all odds, was inspiring. Pamel [...]

    21. “Midnight in Peking” by Paul French, published by Penguin Books.Category – True CrimeThis is an excellent look at true crime and a way of life that has ceased and will never be seen again. It is amazing that Paul French was able to go back and reconstruct this story that takes place in Peking, China in 1937. When reading this book it is imperative that the reader be aware of the political situation at the time and the mindset of the different cultures involved.Pamela Werner was a beautiful [...]

    22. Once I started Midnight in Peking, I had a difficult time putting it down. The murder takes place in 1937 and that time period peaked my interest in the story. I knew that the Japanese were making aggressive moves into China, but for some reason I thought the incursions were mostly made by aircraft. Probably because the bombing of Pearl Harbor is what comes to mind when I think of Japanese aggression. Anyway, I know now just how little I really paid attention in school. The Japanese invaded Chin [...]

    23. I have read several nonfiction books recently and they really intrigued me into checking this genre out more. That is why I wanted to check out Midnight in Peking. I thought the unsolved murder of a young Pamela Werner sounded intriguing. I was not the only one as Mr. French was also intrigued by Pamela’s story and felt that he wanted to research her story himself and see if he could once again give Pamela a voice. Pamela was the daughter of E.T.C. Werner, a former British consul at Foochow. B [...]

    24. French pieces together the events of a murder that scandalized Peking on the brink of a full Japanese invasion. Pamela Werner was days away from turning twenty when her body was found at the base of the Fox Tower. Her father, a disgraced and eccentric British man, looked to the joint investigation of Chinese and British officials to bring justice to his only child's death. However, those officials are undermined by various governments and internal political issues and no conclusion was reached. [...]

    25. It's an odd coincidence that this book forms such a perfect companion piece to Erik Larson's In the Garden of Beasts. Although I'm sure the publishers recognized a good popular history when they saw one, French tells us in the end how he came upon this tale, and I think it was the fact that it was an intriguing story more than any immediate sense of commercial possibilities that drove him on.Both books are set in roughly the same period, this one beginning in 1937, Garden of Beasts in 1933. Both [...]

    26. It starts out like a slow-moving episode of SVU: Instead of "donk donk" and a cut to the relevant part of a new interview, we get a full summary, even when multiple witnesses report the same fact (e.g. the murdered girl was expected home at 7:30). Although the slow storytelling is dull, it gives the reader opportunities to notice red flags that the investigators miss (for instance, Why is that man repainting his apartment in the middle of winter?). My main complaint is that no single person in t [...]

    27. i don't think you should start this book if you have anything else to do in your life, as it may occupy you until you finish it. Peking in 1937 is a most fascinating character - replete with invading Japanese, Chinese from all over, (escaping the Communists, joining the Communists, displaced by Chiang-Kai Shek, etc) White Russians - now stateless and broke, a few American marines, & smatterings of the dying colonial powers - Portuguese, French and of course, the British. The author found pri [...]

    28. Paul French's true crime story combines the tale of the cold case murder of the teen-age daughter of a former British consul in Peking in 1937 with a historical discussion of the Japanese invasion of China during the same time period. While the history helps set the context it at times seems extraneous; it often doesn't add to or explain what we know about Pamela's murder or those who committed the crime. There is also a drag in the middle of the book as the official investigation closes, and he [...]

    29. Midnight in Peking tells the horrific story of the murder of a beautiful intelligent young woman, Pamela Werner, on the eve of war in Peking. The investigation by both Chinese and British police officers was abandoned as the war and the Japanese approached but Pamela's elderly stepfather refused to abandon the search for the truth. That truth he unravelled but his evidence lay mouldering in the national archives in Kew for 70 years when incredibly the author, who had already become interested in [...]

    30. This was fascinating and sad, with a feeling of a gray autumn morning before the first snow. The last days of Old China before the Communists arrived – you know nothing was going to end well for anyone, except for maybe a few guys (mostly Westerners) who managed to get away. It was a shame about Pamela’s death, but I cared even more for some other people involved – the servants from her household who seemed to genuinely have liked her, for Peggy and Marie, the working girls Werner asked fo [...]

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