We gave it a B+
In Peter May’s The Fourth Sacrifice, reeling from their state-squashed romance in 2005’s The Firemaker, American forensic pathologist Margaret Campbell and Chinese detective Li Yan begrudgingly investigate a string of serial murders in Beijing. Four 51-year-old men, linked by a nasty history, have been drugged and beheaded with precision. For a novel set in the present, it doesn’t seem very here-and-now. Did I mention that nearly every character smokes? Still, May exposes Beijing’s dirty charm in a country grappling with modernity. The fast-paced second half is strongest, but the love-hate tension of the romance captivates throughout.