A Book Club for Santa Fe College Students, Faculty & Staff
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Our next meeting will be Tuesday, August 26 at 2:00 pm in room Y-332.
The book for August is Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China by Paul French
From Publisher's Weekly: Historian French (Through the Looking Glass: China’s Foreign Journalists from Opium Wars to Mao) unravels a long-forgotten 1937 murder in this fascinating look at Peking (now Beijing) on the brink of Japanese occupation. The severely mutilated body of 19-year-old Pamela Werner—the adopted daughter of noted Sinologist and longtime Peking resident Edward Werner—was discovered, with many of her organs removed, near the border between the Badlands, a warren of alleyways full of brothels and opium dens, and the Legation Quarter, where Peking’s foreign set resided in luxury. A case immediately fraught with tension was made even trickier when the local detective, Col. Han Shih-ching, was made to work alongside Scotland Yard–trained Richard Dennis, based in Tientsin. The investigation soon stalled: the actual scene of Pamela’s murder could not be found, and leads fizzled out. As China’s attention turned to the looming Japanese occupation, the case was deemed “unsolved.” 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. (May)