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Publisher's Summary

A burned corpse is a disturbing mystery for Beijing detective Li Yan until he enlists forensic pathologist Margaret Campbell. Having abandoned a broken life in Chicago for her work, she's as determined as Li to ask difficult questions about the man's death. But some questions have answers they'd rather not hear - facts that others are desperate to conceal. 

The Firemaker is the first in the acclaimed China series from Peter May, author of Runaway, Entry Island and the internationally best-selling Lewis Trilogy. 

©1999 Peter May (P)2015 WF Howes

Critic Reviews

"Peter May is an author I'd follow to the ends of the earth." (New York Times)

What listeners say about The Firemaker

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Love story spoils an excellent crime story

Peter May disappointed me with the boring and predictable love story between the two main characters taking time away from an excellent plot.

2 people found this helpful

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WOW! Very different!! But most intriguing.

Really enjoyed going off on a different tangent. I felt it was well researched with a good plot.

1 person found this helpful

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Not good

A drawn out stick standard conspiracy plot intertwined with pre-pubescent mills and boon style romance. The reader did his best but there were times when I gasped out loud at the childish narrative.

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Descriptions take you to China

Beautifully written. Story line wonderful. So very well researched. The narrator’s voice is super. Another great Peter May novel.

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Brilliant and Frightening Concept

A fast paced, wild ride that is frightening in the close association to reality. A compelling read!

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Dubious but satisfied

my first experience of the author's writing in an Asian setting. was dubious at first but got drawn into the plot and characters fairly soon. even though the motivation behind the murders was obvious to me early on, I enjoyed watching the characters slowly catch on. already looking forward to the next book.

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Great Listen

Has it all! Unique in setting and characterisation, a story with mystery, humour, romance, unexpected plot twists and great narration. Well worth it.

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firecracker of a story

From beginning to end the story kept me enthralled. Had to stop eating during the autopsy it was so descriptive. The narrator is excellent and was downloading Book 2 before I reached the end of this one. A must read if you are interested in Chinese culture and murder mysteries.

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  • Jennet Paget
  • 06-05-2018

Sensational rubbish

The highly improbable behaviour of the female protagonist and the the gruesome descriptions of autopsies etc combine to outweigh the positives of this book. This is unfortunate as some of the other characters are very interesting as is the description of modern China with the many vestiges of its past well described. It is as though the author did not have enough confidence in his plot and ability to draw convincing characters and so added sensationalist elements to compensate. The narration was enjoyable with good differentiation of the people.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Joanne
  • 07-08-2015

Fantastic Listen

A really enjoyable listen. You knew how the plot was going but there were still many many twists and turns within it that I didn't see coming. Fascinating incite to Chinese life also...Well worth a listen.

18 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Kirsten Behrens
  • Kirsten Behrens
  • 17-08-2015

Great insight into the Chinese psyche and Beijing.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Having lived in Beijing from end 1994 to 2009, I was impressed with Peter May's insight into the North Chinese psyche and Beijing. His description of the culture clash between American and Chinese culture, and the growing understanding, is done with great understanding and respect.
It was with great nostalgia I read the book, partly because the Beijing described had more og less disappeared before I left in 2009, and partly because of the many good years I spent in Beijing.

What did you like best about this story?

The insight into the motives behind the actions of the characters, both villains and heroes.

Have you listened to any of Peter Forbes’s other performances? How does this one compare?

As always an excellent performance, only marked down by a slight mispronunciation of the Chinese words, which isn't fair to mark him down by. :D

Any additional comments?

A great listen, especially if you miss Beijing as it used to be.

26 people found this helpful

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  • aheathco
  • 05-12-2015

A clash of cultures

Would you listen to The Firemaker again? Why?

Yes I would listen again to The Fire Maker again to concentrate on the detailed descriptions of life in the new China. The interactions between a self-centered american pathologist and a newly promoted chines police detective open up to the reader the big gulf that still exists between an ancient culture and the brash modern US way of thinking

Any additional comments?

I'm looking forward to the next books in the series

7 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • G. Swift
  • 15-09-2020

The Chinese accent is borderline offensive

The male narrator, who sounds like he is British, maybe Scottish, actually has a very good voice for audiobooks. But for some bizarre reason he has been directed to do separate 'voices' for the protagonists, American and Chinese. The Chinese one is really distracting, to the point of being uncomfortable and offensive. Its sounds like Benny Hill, or Peter Sellers or Krusty Clown doing one of the old school 'Me so solly' sketches. In this day and age do we really need British narrators imitating a Chinese accent in such an old fashioned way. I was actually enjoying this book until the bad 'radio play' from the 1080s kicked in. Why can't narrators just narrate books, instead of being told to act them. Really wish I could get a refund as the sample of the audio you listen to before buying doesn't contain the bad acting in a 'Chinese' accent.

2 people found this helpful

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  • T. Dickson
  • 09-08-2017

disappointing and obvious

What an anticlimax, having read and enjoyed the Shetland trilogy, expecting another gripping storyline, I was disappointed in this book. I gave a second thought and purchased the second in the China series. I will not buy another.

2 people found this helpful

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  • dj
  • 07-08-2015

fascinating and intriguing.

an exciting combination of crime detective novels and interesting informative, fascinating description of Chinese culture.

11 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • alwayssmiling
  • 16-01-2017

interesting and easy listening

read very well again. it was interesting to gain an insight into China . I do like Peter May books. this was easy to get into and to listen to as usual but I felt the story was a little weak and unlikely. that said I will download the next one in the series.

9 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Miles
  • 26-10-2020

Could have been a good book

The love interest storyline quickly becomes cloying, and tedious. It overshadows what could have been an interesting thriller. Peter May is better than this.

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Caroline A
  • 30-09-2017

It just didn't grab me

So sloooooow. I enjoy Peter May's work but the first in this series of books disappointed. Gave up half way through.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mary-Anne
  • 17-09-2015

Tiresome Woman!

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Get Dr Margaret Campbell to buck her ideas up! I really can't imagine that a well educated woman would act so tiresomely

Who was your favorite character and why?

Li Yan - excellent characterisation of someone trying to break out of the straight jacket of bureaucracy, but not really sure whether he wants to!

Which character – as performed by Peter Forbes – was your favourite?

I like all of Peter Forbes reading and his characterisations of all are down well even the tiresome Dr Campbell.

Was The Firemaker worth the listening time?

I'm afraid I haven't finished the book, as I got so irritated with the female lead. But...I may come back to it later and in a different mood!

7 people found this helpful

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