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The Dragon Awakens is a series of four mystery novels set in China, featuring Inspector (Second Class) Bao Zheng, a man with a strong sense of justice and a knack for solving difficult cases.


The series is set in the 1990s, the decade that turned China from a booming but fragile economy to a potential global superpower. This was the decade that begun with the echoes of Tiananmen Square, and ended up with a consumer boom and hundreds of millions of people lifted out of poverty. It was also the decade that saw Hong Kong change from a British colony to being part of China (an event covered in the third book in the series).

‘Few authors since Robert van Gulik have been able to create such a wonderful picture of Chinese society.’

IRA ASHCROFT, Mystery Review.

In 2012, I was asked to contribute to an anthology of dark crime stories set in Cambodia. The result was The Streets of Phnom Penh - which I have recently published as a solo work (though do check out the anthology, Phnom Penh Noir...) 

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The Beijing Opera Murder

Inspector Bao Zheng's first case, a murder at a traditional Beijing Opera venue, takes place in a capital still fresh from the wounds of the Tiananmen massacre - an event which tested the Inspector's loyalty to breaking point.  Now he begins to suspect skulduggery at ever higher levels in the Party...  The book found audiences around the world - in Britain, America, Germany and Japan.


"Does for China what Gorky Park did for Russia."  Oline Cogdill, Florida Sun Sentinel


"The ambivalent morality of modern China is intelligently exposed, but not at the expense of a first-class crime story."  Marcel Berlins, The Times


"A perfect melding of character, plot and atmosphere.  My number one read for the year."

G. Miki Hayden, Mid-West Review.


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The Hungry Ghost Murder


The Inspector's second case takes him to rural Shandong Province, where a Party Secretary has been bludgeoned to death with a bust of Karl Marx.  As with the first novel, history is lurking in the background, in the form of Mao's surreal, vicious 'Cultural Revolution'.  Does the key to the mystery lie there, or is the answer in more timeless motives of greed or desire? 


"Not only an ingenious whodunit, but an inquest into the Cultural Revolution and the violence it did a generation.  Skilfully assembled, with people and places vividly rendered, and with history speeding through the narrative like adrenalin."

Philip Oakes, Literary Review.


"A wonderfully descriptive tale, which evokes a convincing picture of everyday life in the new China.  It is also a very good traditional mystery."   Deadly Pleasures

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The Red Mandarin Murder

This mystery is set in Hong Kong at a unique moment in its history, the eve of its transformation from British Colony to 'Special Autonomous Region' of China.  The body of an important official is found floating in Hong Kong harbour, with his wrists handcuffed behind his back. How did he get there?  Why? Bao Zheng is sent to investigate, and soon finds himself dealing with feuding governments and vicious Triads. Or is there another, stranger explanation for the man's death? 

‘If you can’t get to Hong Kong, buy this book instead!’

ALEX AUSWAKS, Jerusalem Post.


‘Well constructed and compelling.’

STEVE VINES, Far Eastern Economic Review.


‘A splendidly paced and structured narrative.’

Literary Review.

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The Heavenly Kingdom Murder
As the 1990s draw to a close, China's new consumerism clashes ever more with traditional values. When Rosina's niece joins a strange religious cult based on the nineteenth century Taiping rebels, what should her aunt and uncle do? Especially as the cult seems to be ever more obsessed with the millennium. And when the cult leader dies in mysterious circumstances...

‘A bang-up-to-date commentary on the dilemmas of modern China, where young and old are grappling with the change from ancient traditions and Marxism to consumer-crazy Westernization.’



‘Teasing and cunning, with lots of misleading clues.’



‘An exciting modern-day China police procedural.  The story line is fast-paced; Wang is a great character; and the supporting cast adds depth to the plot.’


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The Streets of Phnom Penh

The life of a leading politician has been threatened. Inspector Khinn Sovann, an experienced mid-ranking cop, is ordered to investigate. Who wants him dead? Why? As the inspector investigates, he finds himself getting closer to a dark secret.

This 5000 word story was first published in Phnom Penh Noir, an anthology of short crime stories set in the city, featuring works by Roland Joffe (The Killing Fields), Bopha Phorn, Christopher G Moore and others.

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