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Writing wrongs in the name of justice

By Yang Yang | China Daily | Updated: 2018-06-10 10:06
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The English version of the trilogy's first book Death Notice has recently been released in both the United Kingdom and the United States, translated by Zac Haluza. The first US print run is 18,000 copies. [Photo provided to China Daily]

In many ways, Chinese suspense novel writer Zhou Haohui is a perfect exponent of the genre. A Scorpio, he speaks straightforwardly, with logical words; not too much, nor too little. Graduating from one of China's premier seats of higher education, Tsinghua University, with a master's degree in environmental engineering, Zhou has been a top student since a very young age, excelling at the sciences and a mastering logic.

When other people speak, he will observe and listen to them quietly and add some words if necessary. He says that when he reads news that appears "unreasonable", it is his habit to think more about it "than common readers possibly do".

Although he is regarded as one of the best suspense novel writers in China, with "a reader base of about 1 million" and the online TV play adaptation of his "An Hei Zhe" (Revenger In Darkness) trilogy viewed 2.4 billion times, there is barely any news online about him, other than a case in which he sued a notorious scriptwriter for plagiarism.

"I have sued two scriptwriters, winning one and losing the other. Even if I lost the case, I've given them the warning that I am not to be trifled with," Zhou says.

Son of a doctor and a teacher in East China's ancient city Yangzhou, a good pupil and a head boy at primary school, Zhou had never been a rebellious boy. Yet, beneath the veneer of superficial obedience beat the heart of a writer; one with the brains to create the most intricate criminal minds and plots, usually mixed with thrilling elements and, in the case of his best-selling trilogy, the extremely popular character Eumenides-the anonymous modern cavalier that seeks revenge for those who are treated unjustly.

Now the English version of the trilogy's first book Death Notice has recently been released in both the United Kingdom and the United States, translated by Zac Haluza. The first US print run is 18,000 copies.

In order to give English readers a touch of China's reality, the English version changes the unnamed place where the story was set to Southwest China's Chengdu, one of the most rapidly developing cities in the world, says Chen Feng, editor from China Educational Publications Import and Export Corporation Ltd. After the publisher successfully brought Liu Cixin's Three-Body Problem trilogy to the West, Zhou's trio of books was always their next choice for an international release.

A word of warning, though: the book is a real page turner and the intricately woven plot and the suspense of the story makes it nigh on impossible to put down. Be prepared to lose hours of your day without realizing it.

The story starts with the mysterious murder of a respected police officer, Sergeant Zheng Haoming, in Chengdu. A policeman from another city called Luo Fei, a heroic figure in many of Zhou's novels, appears at the murder scene, which reminds him of an unsolved case 18 years ago committed by the anonymous Eumenides-taken from the name of the Furies in Greek mythology. Zheng's death, however, turns out to be just the tip of the iceberg.

Eumenides is essentially a vigilante who collects the names of criminals who have managed to escape legal punishment for their crimes, tracks them down and exacts his revenge in the name of justice.

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