Paul French is the Chief China Representative of Access Asia, a market research and business intelligence company specialising in China and North Asia's economics and markets. He was educated in London and at the University of Glasgow. He is the co-author of One Billion Shoppers - Accessing Asia's Consuming Passions(1998) and author of Carl Crow - A Tough Old China Hand: The Life, Times, and Adventures of an American in Shanghai (2006). He lives in Shanghai.
January 1937: Peking is a heady mix of privilege and scandal, lavish cocktail bars and opium dens, warlords and corruption, rumours and superstition - and the clock is ticking down on all of it.
In the exclusive Legation Quarter, the foreigners are jumpy. Japanese troops are poised to attack, and word has it the Chinese government is about to cut a deal with Tokyo, leaving Peking to its fate. Fear reigns inside the ancient city walls, on one of which, not far from the nefarious Badlands, is a massive watchtower. Locals believe it to be haunted by fox spirits that prey upon innocent mortals.
Then one bitterly cold night, the body of an innocent mortal is dumped there. It belongs to the daughter of a former British consul, and when the details of her death become known, people find it hard to credit that any human could treat another in such a fashion.