Peter May introduces The China Thrillers

Ahead of the release of the first of Peter May's China thrillers, Peter introduces us to the series.

Posted on April 15, 2016 in Behind the Scenes
Tags: Crime, Peter May, blog, china thriller, crime fiction

In 1997, I began research on what was to become The Firemaker, the first book in my China Thriller series. I knew what my story would be, and that my two central characters would be a Beijing cop and an American female pathologist.


During all my subsequent visits to China, right up until 2004, I bore witness to the transformation of a country, from the closed, almost mediaeval world of Mao Zedong, to the vision of modern China set in train by Deng Xioaping. Those changes are reflected in the six books of The China Thrillers, which span probably the greatest and fastest period of change in Chinese history.


As I look back now, I can see the books as bearing witness to that change.

From six empty ring roads to nine ring roads jammed end to end with private and commercial vehicles. From rivers of bicycles to the merest trickle of cyclists. From the Mongolian siheyuan courtyards which had been the traditional home of Beijingers for centuries, to high-rise modern apartment blocks.


It was a breathtaking transformation, reflected in each of the books.


I feel privileged to have experienced Beijing and China as it had once been, and to have borne witness to its metamorphosis. The China Thrillers could hardly have been set at a time of greater change. They tell us not only about the evolution in the relationship between Deputy Section Chief Li Yan and American pathologist Margaret Campbell, but bear testament to one of the most astonishing cultural transformations in recent history.


An approximate time scale of the series is as follows:


The Firemaker – Summer of 1999

The Fourth Sacrifice – Summer into autumn of 1999

The Killing Room – Winter of 2000

Snakehead – Summer of 2001

The Runner – Winter of 2003

Chinese Whispers – Autumn into winter of 2004





Peter May, Spring 2016

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