On a normal day in provincial China, a teenager goes about his regular business, but he’s also planning the brutal murder of his only friend. He lures her over, strangles her, stuffs her body into the washing machine and flees town, whereupon a perilous game of cat-and-mouse begins.
A shocking investigation into the despair that traps the rural poor as well as a technically brilliant excursion into the claustrophobic realm of classic horror and suspense, A Perfect Crime is a thrilling and stylish novel about a motiveless murder that echoes Kafka’s absurdism, Camus’ nihilism and Dostoyevsky’s depravity. With exceptional tonal control, A Yi steadily reveals the psychological backstory that enables us to make sense of the story’s dramatic violence and provides chillingly apt insights into a country on the cusp of enormous social, political and economic change.
‘Doused in blood and gushing with ethical conundrums, A Yi’s A Perfect Crime is a disconcerting medley of misanthropy, escapism, and media monstrosities. Woven from tales garnered in the author’s previous career in law enforcement, Yi’s psychological insights are frequently bookended by realistic renditions of urban China’s legal processes. Where Anthony Burgess sought to conjure a world of abstract flair and inexplicable cruelty in A Clockwork Orange, Yi strikes a far deeper chord, delving into the mind of a youth whose lethal motivations are abundantly and undeniably troubling.’
– World Literature Today
‘A Yi's isolated narrator is equal parts calculating monster and forsaken victim: deserted, neglected and ignored, he finds that his only means of feeling alive is to engender death. This austere English PEN Award winner offers an exponentially more chilling alternative to the plethora of dystopic titles; fans of Mo Yan, Yu Hua, Fuminori Nakamura and even Keigo Higashino will surely find resonating, realistic terror here.
– Library Journal
‘Yi, a former police officer, is slowly rising to prominence on the literary scene in China, where this novel was published in 2011. A Perfect Crime is a commentary on both the culture and on the amorality and emotional detachment of one individual in it.’
‘Achieves something we haven’t seen in Chinese fiction for a while – a refreshingly non-verbose, verb-driven, first-person narrative of taut tension (reflected brilliantly in Anna Holmwood’s translation)…[the] writing is pared back, short, driven by pace, and very to the point…a rollercoaster read, so grip the seat, hang on, and be prepared only to relax when you’ve got to the end of the ride.’
– Los Angeles Review of Books
‘Tightly crafted…less a traditional catch-him-if-you-can crime caper and more a psychological probe into a pathological mind.’
– Wall Street Journal
‘Startling…sheds light on a country undergoing huge social, political and economic change…one of the most important voices to emerge from the People’s Republic in years.’
– Daily Express
‘An unlikely page-turner and provides a chilling insight into the mind of a psychopath.’
– Irish News
‘A Perfect Crime...shows A Yi to be one of the most important voices to emerge from the People's Republic in years.’
– International Express
‘Shimmering sentences and jolts of original thinking...break through the taut, descriptive prose like shafts of sunshine in a strip-lit room.’
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