A Book Spy Review: ‘Death Notice’ by Zhou Haohui

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Death notice.jpgSet in 2002, Captain Pei Tao of the provincial Longzhou Police Department has no choice but to re-open an eighteen-year-old cold case when Sergent Zheng Haoming is found murdered in his apartment shortly after claiming to have new evidence in regards to a case he worked in the mid-1980s. 

During their first years on the job together, Pei and Zheng worked together to find a killer who goes by the nickname Eumenides. Known in Greek mythology as the goddess of retribution, Eumenides, the killer, seeks just that — retribution for past misgivings, even going as far as to enlist help from the public to find their victims. While their efforts were fruitless the first time around, the duo had recently begun discussing the possibility that Eumenides has taken to killing again, but the unique circumstances surrounding the killer’s motives makes the case popular with the public, who do little to help unmask the mysterious avenger. 

The story ramps up when Eumenides begins sending out public death notices, taunting the police in the process, who then fail to protect those who’ve been named. Things take a turn when Eumenides hits up message boards, again asking people to give the names of those who deserve to die, setting off a police-fueled manhunt to find, and stop, the killer once and for all. 

A bestseller in China, this is the first of Zhou Haohui’s crime novels to be translated into English, and while the story holds up well, some of the writing itself leaves more to be desired. The plot, which bears shades of Se7en and J.D. Barker’s The Fourth Monkey, is entertaining and will keep readers guessing. But, every once in a while, a phrase here and there just feels off. That’s likely due to the translation and, while noticeable, doesn’t distract too much from the overall suspense of the story. Readers will be racing to figure out who Eumenides is, and Zhou does plenty to keep them guessing throughout.

Book Details

Author:  Zhou Haohui
Pages: 320 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0385543328
Publisher: Doubleday
Release Date: June 5, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 6.5/10

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Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

 

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