A Corpse in the Koryo. James Church, Author. St. Martin’s Minotaur/Dunne $ (p) ISBN “On the surface, A Corpse in the Koryo is a crackling good mystery novel, filled with unusual characters involved in a complex plot that keeps you guessing to the. A review, and links to other information about and reviews of A Corpse in the Koryo by James Church.

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A Corpse In The Koryo Book Summary and Study Guide

Against the backdrop of a totalitarian North Koreaone man unwillingly uncovers the truth behind series of murders, and wagers his life in the process. Sit on a quiet hillside at dawn among the wildflowers; take a picture of a car coming up a deserted highway from the south. Simple orders for Inspector O, until he realizes they have led him far, far off his departme.

Simple x for Inspector O, until he realizes they have led him far, far off his department’s turf and into a maelstrom of betrayal and death. North Korea’s leaders are desperate to hunt down and eliminate anyone who knows too much about a series of decades-old kidnappings and murders–and Inspector O discovers too late he has been sent into the chaos. This is a world where nothing works as it should, where the crimes of the past haunt the present, and where even the shadows are real.

A corpse in Pyongyang’s main hotelthe Koryopulls Inspector O into a confrontation of bad choices between the devils he knows and those he doesn’t want to meet. A blue button on the floor of moryo hotel closet, an ice blue Finnish lake, and desperate efforts by the North Korean leadership koyro Inspector O on a journey to the edge of a reality he almost can’t survive.

Like Philip Kerr’s Berlin Noir trilogy and the Inspector Arkady Renko novels, A Corpse in the Koryo introduces another unfamiliar korgo, a perplexing universe seemingly so ckrpse that the rules are an enigma to the reader and even, sometimes, to Inspector O.

Author James Church weaves a story with beautifully spare prose and layered descriptions of a country and a people he knows by heart after decades as an intelligence officer. This is a chilling portrayal that, in the end, leaves us wondering if what at first seemed unknowable may simply be too familiar for comfort.

It evokes the gray milieu without ever overstepping its mark, allowing us to see it from the inside rather than the outside, wherein the humanity of all the characters, both good and evil, is apparent.

Inspector O is a particularly wonderful creation, a true mensch attempting to hold on to his humanity in a world where humanism is under constant attack.

Subtlety is the method, and the result is fantastic work that should mark the beginning of a brilliant career for James Church. James Church does a better job of describing the isolated, impoverished, corrupt, and out- of-touch life in the North than anything I have seen.

This novel is a must-read for anyone who would understand how precarious the dictatorship is. The laconic Inspector O follows in the traditions of Inspector Arkady Renko, operating in cropse world of complexity and danger we’re meeting here for the first time. O is an original. This is an expert take on a complex, brutal, and mystifying society.

Immerse yourself in it. Bloody and chilling, yet subtle in its psychological detail, with an amazing understanding of North Korea. He gives the North Korea setting a feeling of palpable reality, depicting the nature of daily life under a ioryo government not just with broad sociopolitical descriptions but also with specific everyday details. The writing is superb, too, well above the level usually associated with a first novel, richly layered and visually evocative.


Hardcoverpages. Published October 17th by Minotaur Books first published To see what your friends corpsr of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about A Corpse in the Koryoplease sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Corpse in the Koryo. Lists with This Book. Sep 07, Kemper rated it liked it Shelves: Read it quick before North Korea decides you can’t!

He was also reportedly an incredible golfer. According to the state newspaper, the first time he ever played, Kim finished 18 holes in just 34 shots. Which would be 25 shots lower than the best official round ever played and would mean that he hit multiple holes-in-one in a single round. With the whole country so completely l Read it quick before North Korea decides you can’t!

We tend to think of them as this oppressed but possibly brainwashed sea of korho that lives in a combination of fear and awe of Kim Jong-il. O is given a mysterious assignment to go outside Pyongyang and take a picture of a car that is supposed to drive by at a certain time.

Just trying to do a little honest police work is dangerous enough. James Church is supposedly the pseudonym of a former Western intelligence agent. The details of everyday life in North Korea ring true, and O is a fascinating character.

The writing is also very good, but the plot is pretty confusing. O spends a great deal of the book just blindly being sent to different places, and neither he nor the reader knows why until very late in he book. Maybe the later books in the series get into that more, but it seemed kind of random though.

Still, this was a well written thriller with an interesting main character in a setting that most of us outside of North Korea will never know. View all 34 comments. Mar 08, Jim rated it liked it Shelves: This was one of those books that starts out as a mystery and finishes Part police story and part spy drama, you never quite know what exactly is going on.

The protagonist, Inspector O, at least I can spell his name is ordered about from pillar to post on a series of investigative odd jobs. He seems as mystified as the reader regarding the deaths and corruption encountered during the course of his investigative meanderings. I’ll be the first to This was one of those books that starts out as a mystery and finishes I’ll be the first to admit that I know sweet diddly about North Korea, but I doubt that police and security agencies there gun each other down in the streets and office buildings on a regular basis.

Maybe that’s what the author was counting on It seemed odd to me; I understand inter-departmental rivalries, but this seemed to go too far. Mr Church didn’t make Inspector O work for me; he is portrayed as a thoughtful and sensitive man trying to function in a brutal and oppressive regime, but seems oddly detached when people close to him are bumped off along the way. Maybe that’s what Church was going for, but it didn’t work for me.

I didn’t believe the character and found the convoluted story line hard to follow. In fact, having read the book, I’m still not sure what the heck happened there. This book has some redeeming qualities.

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Church is a capable writer and has created some good descriptive passages and entertaining verbal exchanges, of which I will include a small sampling: Listening is the time to recoup, to gather your wits, to plan your attack. If you listen to anyone carefully enough, you’ll hear the slip that points to their vitals. It’s the compass on the killing map. People talk, but no one wants to say anything because someone might listen.

Ppg “Kang is an interesting character” “I thought so. The sun bounced off him in a thousand directions. Built up quite a list of enemies, as far as I could tell. How many karats would you say? Finally, a brief excerpt of a passage in which O is describing the Alps he has a thing for mountains: The peaks I saw clawed the sky, so that the dawn was wounded and the sunlight bled into the day.

In fact, the writing was just good enough to overcome a confusing story line and a protagonist who doesn’t seem to be fully developed. I liked it just enough to give the next Inspector O book a try sometime just to see if a different setting changes my opinion.

View all 7 comments. One of my coworkers is married to an editor for St. Martin’s, and he came to a company party one time with a bunch of free books. Among the stack, I saw A Corpse in the Koryo and the title made me give it a second glance. The fact that it was set in North Korea sold me — my sisters are adopted from South Korea, and I’ve had some interest in both countries for some time now. The book’s pacing is not particularly speedy, but it doesn’t ever get bogged down either.

The plot ticks away as more chara One of my coworkers is married to an editor for St. The plot ticks away as more characters are introduced, more information revealed, and more twists occur.

A Corpse in the Koryo (Inspector O, #1) by James Church

It’s sometimes hard to keep track of, but as the mystery wraps up at the end, you feel like everything made sense. I liked the main character, Inspector O – I enjoyed his cynicism and straightforwardness, along with his lack of interest in toeing the party line. He has a dry sense of humor and an interesting outlook on life informed by both his culture and his personal experience.

I enjoyed the book, but found myself wishing at times that it would delve more deeply into the world of North Korea. It gives little glimpses of things like the difficulties in acquiring basic supplies, and the unreliability of koro service, but there is not a lot of detail given on Korean culture or day to day life. Then again, perhaps a crime novel is not the right place for such.

I would recommend the book to those who enjoy realistic fiction, military thrillers, and mystery novels. It’s not normally the type of book I choose to read, but I enjoyed it.

Feb 24, Lisa Sansone added it. I agree with the general sentiments of most of the reviews on here. Corspe liked a lot of things about the book.

I thought the character of Inspector O was interesting and engaging, and I was particularly moved by his relationship with both his grandfather and with his boss, Pak.