Brian Klingborg’s Thief of Souls – A Review

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Klingborg’s Thief of Souls is an impressive detective novel set in modern day China. Besides the setting in a small provincial town the size of a hamlet where ordinarily the most serious crime is the theft of chickens, in Thief of Souls Klingborg develops the plot of catching a serial killer masquerading as a lone murder unconnected with several others in the larger town of Harbin. Klingborg does an excellent job in integrating ancient Chinese philosophy, customs, traditions, norms and vocabulary with the plot avoiding the dreaded background information dump usually given by characters on extended soliloquies or paragraph due to Klingborg’s excellent writing and ability to keep the plot moving keeping the narrative from stalling out in the middle.

Two things this reader would have liked to have seen was more development of Lu Fei (the main detective)’s character in terms of what has led him to his working in the village. Klingborg goes into somewhat but stops right when it gets interesting and why he lives alone and is unmarried. Lu Fei is looking for love (potentially in all the wrong places). Why hasn’t he found it until now? Is it because he’s too finicky or is he married to his job? Second, the brief glimpses of the mental impressions of the serial killer inserted into the beginning and middle parts of the narrative almost seemed like an afterthought,. The majority of the development of the serial killer is in the end of the narrative. Merging the two parts into one and spreading it more evenly throughout the narrative might have kept the glimpses from seeming like an afterthought.

Still, Thief of Souls was a good ride. This reader looks forward to more in the series.

** Copy provided by NetGalley