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Download Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China Audiobook, by Paul French Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,631 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Paul French Narrator: Erik Singer Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2012 ISBN: 9781101564431
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In the last days of old Peking, where anything goes, can a murderer escape justice?

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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Midnight in Peking is true-crime writing at its best, full of vivid characters, an exotic locale, secrets galore, and a truly bewildering mystery. The Christian Science Monitor
  • …A compulsively readable true crime work in the tradition of Devil in the White City. The Atlantic.com
  • Not only does Mr. French succeed in solving the crime, he resurrects a period that was filled with glitter as well as evil, but was never, as readers will appreciate, known for being dull. The Economist
  • An engrossing read Oprah.com
  • In today’s Beijing, French’s portrait feels surprisingly germane. The Los Angeles Times
  • Part historical docudrama, part tragic opera… [French] tells this sorry tale with the skill of an Agatha Christie. The Financial Times
  • “[A] fascinating thriller/true-crime story…There’s an unexpected pleasure that comes from knowing that after all these years, the truth has finally come to light.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • This is a good murder story, well told, with all the additional pleasures that a knowledgeable tour guide to old China can provide. Grateful readers could scarcely ask for more. Joseph Kanon, author of Istanbul Passage, in The Washington Post
  • Never less than fascinating… one of the best portraits of between-the-wars China that has yet been written. The Wall Street Journal
  • Midnight in Peking is both a detective story and a social history, and therefore – as it should – always keeps the hunt for Pamela’s killers somewhere near the center of the narrative. [Paul French] is a wonderfully dexterous guide Jonathan Spence in The New York Review of Books
  • A crime story set among sweeping events is reminiscent of Graham Greene, particularly The Third Man, while French's terse, tightly-focussed style has rightly been compared to Chandler. Midnight in Peking deserves a place alongside both these masters. The Independent
  • A page-turning and fascinating true crime book. This is a genre-breaker that captures the atmosphere of 1930s Peking. The Bookseller [selected as One to Watch]
  • …the most talked-about read in town this year. The New Yorker’s Page-Turner Blog
  • “A fascinating tale of life and death in a city on the brink of all-out war, a world of corruption, hubris, brutality, and madness…A deeply engrossing tale that offers fresh insights into pre-war Peking and a measure of justice for a young woman whose life was cut tragically short.”

    Time

  • “Engrossing…French’s account is never less than fascinating, and it is delivered at the unflagging pace of a rickshaw man’s fast trot…One of the best portraits of between-the-wars China that has yet been written.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Part historical docudrama, part tragic opera…[French] tells this sorry tale with the skill of an Agatha Christie.”

    Financial Times

  • “Not only does Mr. French succeed in solving the crime, he resurrects a period that was filled with glitter as well as evil, but was never, as readers will appreciate, known for being dull.”

    Economist

  • “Fascinating…French painstakingly reconstructs the crime and depicts the suspects—using Werner’s own independent research,  conducted after authorities refused to reopen his daughter’s case. Compelling evidence is coupled with a keen grasp of Chinese history in French’s worthy account.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Singer’s performance is evocative as he transports listeners to the setting of Old China, with its privileged expatriate community and its dignified legations, and its vice-ridden Badlands, rife with prostitution and opium dens…Singer allows the material to speak for itself, moving the story forward seamlessly and shedding light on a China of times past.”

    AudioFile

  • “French’s narrative keeps the reader tightly gripped by and emotionally involved with the dead daughter and her obstreperous but determined father, who, after officials closed the case unsolved, pressed for the truth in his own remarkable inquiry. A fine true-crime narrative with crossover appeal to mystery mavens.”

    Booklist

  • “Treating his subjects with expertise and compassion, French creates a riveting portrait of the complicated tensions that existed during wartime in a city on the brink of destruction. As he slowly unravels the clues, he reveals a crime more shocking than anyone had ever imagined. This is a difficult book to put down!”

    Library Journal

  • “French provides a wealth of historical detail about a vanished era in interwar Peking. A well-composed, engaging, lurid tale.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A 2012 Washington Post Best Book for Nonfiction
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A 2012 eMusic Best Audiobook of the Year
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • Winner of the 2013 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Fact Crime
  • A 2013 Macavity Award Nominee for Best Mystery Nonfiction

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rosanne Friedlander | 1/29/2014

    " Poor girl. Book had interesting history but didn't really hold my attention enough to give 4 stars. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Emily Klein | 1/6/2014

    " Although this reads more like a detective novel than history it paints a rich picture of Peking before ww ii (a time and place I knew little about). Couldn't put it down. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jacqueline | 1/6/2014

    " A good book for people who enjoy true crime cases. This one took place in 1937. A godd read "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christine | 1/5/2014

    " Not your typical true crime thriller. Incredible story since it is true and history of Peking very interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 H Wesselius | 1/2/2014

    " An engrossing true tale of true crime and history. Set in Peking during the decline of empires, both the western legations and China, with Japan on the doorstep, the author gives us the historical context needed to understand the murder and the subsequent investigation. An interesting quick read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 John Moeschler | 1/2/2014

    " Good story but reads like long non-fiction piece. Setting in pre WW2 China interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joy Verboncouer | 1/2/2014

    " So sad to realize how governments work to protect themselves rather than the truth. What a tribute to this father that he continued to pursue the truth. Good read! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rennie | 12/22/2013

    " I found the portrait of life in China as this time to be very interesting and extremely well researched. The mystery element was a bonus and it was poignant that the father who had been distant and disinterested was so determined to find out what had happened to his daughter. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sharon Larsen randall | 11/24/2013

    " Interesting historical book; read like a mystery. Gives a glimpse into the life of a foreigner living in Peking at the time prior to the Japanese invasion. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Greg | 11/6/2013

    " Pinyan! Wade-Giles! Choose a single form of transliteration! Narrating nightmare. But good book nonetheless. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patty | 10/7/2013

    " Cross cultural look at ex-pat living and the mysterious homicide of a woman coming of age. It reminded me that a dad's love is truly universal and never fades. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Suzanne | 9/15/2013

    " Liked it but didn't love it. I found the murder story really interesting and frustrating at the same time. I learned a lot about China in the 30s and 40s. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ruth Parkin | 8/2/2013

    " Well written, not too complex, focused, atmospheric and informative! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marie | 6/24/2013

    " This was an excellent book combining both history and culture of China during that time as well as a captivating crime story. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Ashley | 2/3/2013

    " I couldn't get in to this book the first chapter was so dry and factual that it was just not my style that i prefer to read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Beth666ann | 12/28/2012

    " Especially loved the endpapers. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nancy Roberts | 9/24/2012

    " Great book about a time place. Factual but reads well. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Aaron | 9/6/2012

    " Really good, especially if you like true crime stories / live in China. I live in Beijing and plan to go on the audio walk which you can download from the book's website. It takes you to many of the places in the book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda Frashure | 9/3/2012

    " This book is haunting. I just returned from a trip to China and read this book upon my return. The author really takes you there in the story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dalia | 8/25/2012

    " Very sad story, with lots of unanswered questions- eg did Werner have anything to do with the death of his wife from an overdose? Also, French should have mentioned in the text of the book- not just the bibliography- that another author covered much of the same material in a 1948 book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maribeth | 6/29/2012

    " Strange murder, intriguing mystery, fascinating place and time in history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeanette | 4/30/2012

    " Can't add much to what's been said. Very interesting. Crime in a country and time I know little about. Compelling. A bit frustrating because there really is no resolution (not giving away anything here). I wish the map on the endpapers had been less artsy and more helpful. "

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About the Author

Paul French lives in Shanghai, where he is a business adviser and analyst. He frequently comments on China for the English-speaking press around the world. He studied history, economics, and Mandarin while attending university and has a Master Philosophy in economics from the University of Glasgow.

About the Narrator

Erik Singer’s theatrical credits include the title role in The Hostage (off Broadway), A Life in the Theatre, Greetings!, and national tours of Othello and The Taming of the Shrew. He has also appeared on All My Children and As the World Turns, and was the voice of Vincent van Gogh in the A&E Biography about Van Gogh and Gauguin.