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Extended Audio Sample A Corpse in the Koryo Audiobook, by James Church Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (532 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: James Church Narrator: Feodor Chin Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Inspector O Novels Release Date: June 2011 ISBN: 9781470802165
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Sit on a quiet hillside at dawn among the wildflowers; take a picture of a car coming up a deserted highway from the south.

These seen simple orders for Inspector O, until he realizes they have led him far, far off his department’s turf and into a maelstrom of betrayal and death. North Korea’s leaders are desperate to hunt down and eliminate anyone who knows too much about a series of decades-old kidnappings and murders—and Inspector O discovers too late that he has been sent into the chaos. This is a world where nothing works as it should, where the crimes of the past haunt the present, and where even the shadows are real.

Author James Church weaves a story with beautifully spare prose and layered descriptions of a country and a people he knows by heart after decades as an intelligence officer.

Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “James Church does a better job of describing the isolated, impoverished, corrupt, and out-of-touch life in the North than anything I have seen.”

    Newt Gingrich

  • “This is a fine, intelligent, and exciting story that takes us into the netherworld of contemporary North Korean communism. Inspector O is a particularly wonderful creation, a true mensch attempting to hold onto his humanity in a world where humanism is under constant attack. Subtlety is the method, and the result is a fantastic work that should mark the beginning of a brilliant career for James Church.”

    Olen Steinhauer, New YorkTimes bestselling author

  • “A gripping story of mystery and intrigue. The laconic Inspector O follows in the traditions of Inspector Arkady Renko, operating in a world of complexity and danger we’re meeting here for the first time.”

    Don Oberdorfer, author of Tet!

  • “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.”

    Time magazine, Asia edition

  • “A crackling good mystery novel, filled with unusual characters involved in a complex plot that keeps you guessing to the end.”

    Washington Post 

  • “A new offering that reminds you of why you started reading mysteries and thrillers in the first place.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “An impressive debut that calls to mind such mystery thrillers as Martin Cruz Smith’s Gorky Park…Hammett and Chandler would have had no problem appreciating this hard-boiled narrative.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “An outstanding crime novel…A not-to-be-missed reading experience.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “Inspector O is completely believable and sympathetic…The writing is superb, too…richly layered and visually evocative.”           

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Gripping…The pseudonymous Church, himself a former intelligence officer…is an admirable stylist.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A Publishers Weekly Top 100 Book of 2006

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrew | 2/20/2014

    " In mysterious North Korea, Inspector O has to work almost as hard to find a cup of tea as he does to solve the mystery of the dead body of Finn that turns up in a hotel. Church's insights into the machinations of a paranoid regime are fascinating, but what makes this book a real winner is how he conveys his characters' love for the Korean landscape. Truly enjoyable. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Susan | 2/19/2014

    " The story takes place in North Korea. To be honest, I had a hard time sticking to the book because the story line is impossible to follow. I never understood who was who and what they were up to. But maybe that is the point? One living in a totalitarian society doesn't have all the information and doesn't know who to trust. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary | 2/4/2014

    " This is a first person narrative by police Inspector O, which is as much about how things work in North Korea as about the crime itself. I read this as a quick followup to The Orphan Master's Son because of an interest in North Korea. It is fast-paced, but I will have to say that a lot of the elements of who done it and why seem to be too subtle for me to grasp. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Beth | 1/21/2014

    " This book did not appeal to me as much as I thought it would...a bit dry, redundant, and whiny! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Errol | 1/21/2014

    " Really great detective novel about life in North Korea. A few small plot holes but they are smoothed over by great characters and excellent dialogue. The first in a four part series. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 E.H. | 1/18/2014

    " A fascinating mystery with a witty detective, complex plot, and great local (North Korean) color. That it has a nice, literary underpinning in the writing style and some poetic ideas about the way the world works is icing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Peggy | 1/17/2014

    " Very interesting and I really liked the slow pace and what some have called the passivity of the narrative. How does one describe that which must be hidden, sometimes even from oneself? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 B. Factor | 12/8/2013

    " A decent detective story that is interesting mostly for its putatively accurate insight into the daily life of North Korea. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kate | 11/14/2013

    " A fascinating glimpse into life in North Korea, as well as a good mystery. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Thomas | 9/17/2013

    " Interesting. Didn't love it, but the sheer originality of a cop story set in North Korea is enough for me to give his next novel a chance. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 B | 8/12/2013

    " One of the few novels to take place in North Korea, this very dark and mysterious novel is challenging to understand but compelling in its frightening description of paranoid life in North Korea, esp. because the author used to live there.. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shawn | 5/14/2013

    " This read was compelling, interesting, and intriguing from beginning to the end. Church wasted no time getting to the meat of the story while still being able to create engaging characters that I actually cared about. This definitely wasn't a literary masterpiece, but it was still fun to read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Josh | 4/2/2013

    " Three or four stars here. The conceit of setting a novel in a totalitarian state definitely works for me. The unspoken menace and fear of the consequences from the misspoken word in any conversation. Great characters. Looking forward to the next one. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jill | 3/25/2013

    " A terrific look at the totalitarian rule in North Korea through the lens of a brilliant mystery/police/detective/story of international politics. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Aharon | 12/15/2012

    " A whole lotta moonlight and tea. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Erin | 1/13/2012

    " A fantastic glimpse into North Korea. I loved the detail in this book and the mystery was artfully told. I will read every book in this series. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jane | 11/7/2011

    " I'm reading this for my mystery book group, but am not enjoying it. I may not finish it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kathryn | 7/25/2011

    " I am in the market for a new mystery series because so many of my favorite authors -- Grimes, James, Rendell -- are hitting their 80s and updating their wills. Church's Inspector O, unfortunately, did not click with me so I will have to look elsewhere. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Katrina | 5/28/2011

    " This went all over the place.
    Not quite sure if that was the intention.
    Not a bad read, but not something I might go for again. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Thomas | 1/24/2011

    " Interesting. Didn't love it, but the sheer originality of a cop story set in North Korea is enough for me to give his next novel a chance. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Aharon | 10/15/2010

    " A whole lotta moonlight and tea. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Wendy | 9/18/2010

    " Interesting Police procedural set in North Korea. The author is clearly influenced by Raymond Chandler but the resolution (or lack there of) isn't very satisfying. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Errol | 9/7/2010

    " Really great detective novel about life in North Korea. A few small plot holes but they are smoothed over by great characters and excellent dialogue. The first in a four part series. "

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About the Author

James Church is the pseudonym of a former Western intelligence officer with decades of experience in Asia. He has wandered through Korea for years. No matter what hat he wore, Church says, he ran across Inspector O many times.

About the Narrator

Feodor Chin is a two-time winner of the AudioFile EArphones Award. He is an actor classically trained at the American Conservatory Theater and UCLA. His acting career includes numerous credits in film, television, theater, and voice-over. For more information please visit FeodorChin.com.