Paul French joined us Wednesday, September 14th at The Bookworm for a thrilling discussion about his latest book, Midnight in Peking. Midnight details the murder of 19-year-old Pamela Werner at the end of an era: Peking, 1937, the city is a heady mix of privilege and scandal, lavish cocktail bars and opium dens, warlords and corruption, rumours and superstition. Seventy-five years after Pamela’s brutal murder and the subsequent investigation and cover-up, French finally gives the case the resolution it was denied at the time.
We chatted with French before his talk to ask some questions about crime writing, what he’s reading now and the age old question, Beijing or Shanghai.
What’s the first crime book you’ve read?
Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock
What’s your favorite occupation (if not writing)?
Researcher. I like spending time in archives, going through some old stuff.
Which talent would you most like to have?
Charm!? Funny, handsome yes, but not charming. (Yeah?)
Shanghai or Beijing?
Shanghai. One is livable, the other is not.
Do you have a favorite period in Chinese history that you like to write about?
The Republican Era between 1912 to 1945. Everything was possible then.
What book is on your night stand?
Selected essays by Christopher Hichens. His heroes are my heroes.
Midnight in Peking is available now at The Bookworm.
For more on the story behind the story, China Daily interviews French here.