The Murder of Mr. Ma (Paperback)

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The Murder of Mr. Ma By SJ Rozan, John Shen Yen Nee Cover Image

The Murder of Mr. Ma (Paperback)


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For fans of Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes films, this stunning, swashbuckling series opener by a powerhouse duo of authors is at once comfortingly familiar and tantalizingly new.

Two unlikely allies race through the cobbled streets of 1920s London in search of a killer targeting Chinese immigrants.

London, 1924. When shy academic Lao She meets larger-than-life Judge Dee Ren Jie, his quiet life abruptly turns from books and lectures to daring chases and narrow escapes. Dee has come to London to investigate the murder of a man he’d known during World War I when serving with the Chinese Labour Corps. No sooner has Dee interviewed the grieving widow than another dead body turns up. Then another. All stabbed to death with a butterfly sword. Will Dee and Lao be able to connect the threads of the murders—or are they next in line as victims?

Blending traditional gong’an crime fiction with the most iconic aspects of the Sherlock Holmes canon, Dee and Lao’s first adventure is as thrilling and visual as an action film, as imaginative and transportive as a timeless classic.
John Shen Yen Nee is a half Chinese, half Scottish American media executive, producer and entrepreneur who was born in Knoxville, grew up in San Diego, and is now based in Los Angeles, with a penchant for very long run-on sentences. He has served as president of WildStorm Productions; senior vice president of DC Comics; publisher of Marvel Comics; CEO of Cryptozoic Entertainment; and cofounder of CCG Labs. You can read more about him at 

SJ Rozan is the best-selling author of twenty novels and over eighty short stories, and editor of three anthologies. Her multiple awards include the Edgar, Shamus, Anthony, Nero, Macavity; Japanese Maltese Falcon; and the Private Eye Writers of America Lifetime Achievement Award. She’s served on the national boards of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, and as president of Private Eye Writers of America. She was born in the Bronx and lives in Manhattan.

Product Details ISBN: 9781641296748
ISBN-10: 1641296747
Publisher: Soho Crime
Publication Date: March 4th, 2025
Pages: 312
Language: English
Praise for The Murder of Mr. Ma

An Amazon Best Book of the Year So Far

“A glorious mash up of fan fiction (with tips of the hat to Robert van Gulik and Arthur Conan Doyle), kung fu prowess (Dee could easily star in a martial arts movie) and droll social commentary (‘The British,’ Dee remarks early on, ‘are oddly vulnerable to charm’).”
The New York Times Book Review

“The vivid action scenes feel as visceral as a Chow Yun-fat circular kick with double forearm strike. A sparkling and thought-provoking debut of a fresh dynamic duo whose adventures I’ll be eager to follow.”
—Paula Woods, Los Angeles Times

“Co-authors Nee and Rozan offer an appealingly unusual, action-packed Sherlock Holmes pastiche with deep roots in both Chinese crime fiction and the history of early 20th-century England.”
The Washington Post

“Amid the whirl of crescent kicks, rooftop chases, and snappy dialogue, characters confront addiction, defy prejudice, and deliver justice. It’s a cinematic ride.”
The Christian Science Monitor

“A clever homage to Holmes . . . [Rozan & Nee] have launched a highly entertaining new series with The Murder of Mr. Ma.”
—Oline Cogdill, South Florida Sun Sentinel

The Murder of Mr. Ma is a refreshingly unique mystery featuring a Chinese detective and his somewhat unwitting partner in 1920s London, combining classic elements from both British and Chinese detective stories in a thrilling romp that doesn't shy away from the realities of life under colonial dynamics. Lao She and Dee Ren Jie are a hilarious and compelling duo to follow!”
—Xiran Jay Zhao, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Iron Widow

The Murder of Mr. Ma is a joy, with this Chinese Sherlock Holmes and his Watson bringing a thrilling, complex, and thought-provoking new take on 1920s London.”
—Laurie R. King, bestselling author of The Lantern’s Dance

“Fans of Sherlock Holmes, devotees of intricate crime, and lovers of historical London will thrill over The Murder of Mr. Ma, the new gift to mystery readers bestowed by John Shen Yen Nee and SJ Rozan. With a plot as clever as Chinese veteran of WWI turned independent investigator Dee, and pacing as light-footed as the martial artists engaged in the frequent fisticuffs, this case has it all—even romance and authentic food, if you can stomach such things. I'm only miffed because I don't know when the next in the series will land on my doorstep.”
—Lyndsay Faye, author of Dust and Shadow

“I was blown away by this exuberant, fun, cinematic tale of two Chinese immigrants—kung-fu fighting Judge Dee and his unlikely sidekick, academic Lao She—making like Holmes and Watson in the mean streets of 1920’s London.”
—Vannessa Cronin, Amazon Editors’ Pick

“Mash-ups, genre-benders, unexpected fusion . . . I like mystery books that bring something new to the same old game, and, this time, the game is afoot wearing an entirely different shoe. The Murder of Mr. Ma is a rollicking, fast-paced adventure that weaves the grand tradition of a Sherlock Holmesan homage into traditional Chinese gong’an crime fiction with explosive results . . . Anyone with a need for a quick read that keeps you on your toes will love this one.”
Des Moines Cityview

“A diverting and fresh combination of a whodunnit with a swashbuckling romp through London’s Chinese communities in the 1920s . . . [The authors’] literary influences are proudly on display: the Sherlock Holmes stories and the British penny dreadfuls of the 19th century, alongside the 16th and 17th century ‘crime-case’ fiction of China. There’s more than a hint of the earliest adventures of The Batman, too.”
Morning Star

“The team-up of the great detective Judge Dee with Lao as his ‘Watson’ is ingenious.”
Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

“From rooftops to back alleys, the book offers insights into British class at the time, postwar changes in culture, and anti-Chinese sentiment and maneuvers, seasoned with lively adventures and abundant humor.”
Historical Novels Review

“The compelling plot moves along swiftly. Further, it’s filled with booby-trapped buildings, masterful disguises (including Springheel Jack), the click of mah-jongg tiles, and the awful prejudice that pervaded the times in which the novel is set. Forget the time anomaly: take a journey back a hundred years with a 1,300-year-old character. You won’t regret it.”
Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine

“Jump into this absurd and charming period mystery for the wild scenes of threat, battle, rescue, and humor, and make the most of the fun involved.”
—New York Journal of Books

“Unique and special . . . Rozan and Nee will educate readers as they entertain them . . . Fans—and you will be a fan—can look forward to the next adventure that blends logical investigation with kick-ass action in a way that crime fiction readers rarely encounter.”
—BOLO Books

“A superb action adventure mystery.”
—Gumshoe Review

“Fans of Sherlock Holmes will recognize the format, a brilliant, addicted sleuth accompanied by an admiring assistant. But, the authors put their own spin on it as the two men are Chinese, trying to help their fellow Chinese in a London that sees them as lesser beings. The Murder of Mr. Ma is unrelenting in its pace, a wonderful tale of adventure and derring-do.”
—Lesa’s Book Critiques

“A bewitching series kickoff . . . The intricate plot, which is bolstered by vivid period detail and playfully riffs on real-life figures in Chinese history (including Lao), is enhanced by healthy doses of humor and well-orchestrated action. Readers will be clamoring for a sequel.”
Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“Rozan and comics exec Nee create a distinct sense of time and place in this brisk adventure . . . Lao narrates their adventures as Dee impersonates a street legend, ‘Springheel Jack, the Terror of London,’ swinging from lampposts and launching himself across rooftops in search of a killer. Fans of the Sherlock Holmes canon will appreciate this fast-paced, exciting novel.”
Library Journal, Starred Review

“Probably the best homage to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic pairing of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson . . . The Murder of Mr. Ma is a masterpiece.”

“A high-energy, rambunctious tale . . . The authors do a wonderful job of depicting the bustling London of the ‘20s, the Chinese community and the relentless racism and stereotypes it is a victim of, and absolutely fabulous displays of martial arts. There’s word that Dr. Dee may be returning to solve another case; here’s hoping he does!” 
—First Clue Reviews

“Judge Dee, though fighting his addiction to opium, manages to come up with a plausible reason why so many members of the battalion have met sudden deaths and to excel in the bouts of martial arts in which so many scenes of conflict end . . . First of a series that’s acutely attuned to British racism between the two world wars.”
Kirkus Reviews

“The plot is extremely clever, and for much of it, we are led astray by cunningly placed red herrings. But the clues are there, and the final unveiling of the villain is perfectly planned and executed . . . Perhaps the best part is that we know there will be more mysteries to solve with these two intriguing characters.”