Book Report: Peking Duck by Roger L. Simon (1979)

On my second attempt, I made it through this book by blogger Roger L. Simon. Of course, the book was written in 1979, before blogs. As some of you long-time readers know, I bought a number of the Moses Wine iBooks reissues in November 2004 and I read the two books (The Big Fix and The Lost Coast) in the first week I owned them. Then I tried Peking Duck. And it took me over a year to try it again.

The book centers on a trip Moses Wine takes to China. A liberal by philosophy, Wine has some sympathy and reverence for the Chinese Communists and their noble ideals. As he’s belonged to a Chinese friendship society to please his aunt, he’s invited on her tour of China. While in China, a crime occurs, and he’s the one who has to solve the mystery and set the things aright, to make the world safe for Chinese communism.

One of my complaints with this book is the same as with The Big Fix: We get a complete enumeration of names and professions for the people on the trip with Moses Wine, but for the most part, they remain names and professions, and I couldn’t keep many of them straight. Which wasn’t too important, as they’re just scenery. The book goes at length to describe the trip to China, the Chinese cities, and the Chinese line on communism in the late 1970s. As a matter of fact, it reads more like a fictional, sympathetically political travelogue. On page 120 or so, the crime finally occurs, and I knew who did it immediately.

So the book didn’t really hold me in any suspense, nor did I really enjoy it all that much. However, I did make it through it this time. Roger L. Simon was nominated for an Academy Award for a screen play, and I think his strength must lie in that medium.

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