The Magistrate by Brian Klingsborg

July 12th, 2023 Kimberly Guest Post, Review 10 Comments

12th Jul

Sophia Rose is here with The Magistrate by Brian Klingsborg. Narrated by P.J. Ochlan this is third Inspector Lu Fei Mystery. Come see why it really got to her….

The Magistrate by Brian Klingsborg
The Magistrate
by Brian Klingborg
Series: Inspector Lu Fei Mystery #3
Narrator: P.J. Ochlan
Length: 11 hours and 7 minutes
Genres: Mystery
Source: Publisher
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
Narration: 4.5 cups Speed: 1.2x

A brutal murder investigation with connections to corruption at the very highest level threatens not just the career but also the life of Inspector Lu Fei in Brian Klingborg's latest mystery . . .

Sophia Rose’s Review

Deeper and darker than the previous installments with government corruption and human trafficking at the heart of this latest investigation for modern Chinese police Inspector Lu.  I stumbled upon the first book, but have since then eagerly anticipated each new release in a series that gives audio listeners a peek inside the Communist China world following straight arrow Inspector Lu’s detecting adventures.

The Magistrate is the third installment in the series.  The mystery is standalone, but the backdrop of the characters particularly Lu Fei have built from book one so I recommend these in order.

The Magistrate finds Inspector Lu facing his usual struggles in Raven Valley as a small city police detective with plans to marry a local barkeeper and concerns about one of his officers who plans to leave the force to marry a guy Lu Fey isn’t keen about.  Then he lands a case for a killing that isn’t the typical local crime and has all the earmarks of dragging Lu into something bigger and darker.  The trail leads back to his former city, Harbin, and to the police precinct he was forced to leave because of the corruption there he wasn’t willing to turn a blind eye to or join in on.  Because of his need to walk the straight and narrow and not having anyone with powerful clout protecting or backing him, his work is a constant tightrope balance.  Never more than this time around when his poking about and discovery that the killer, stylizing as The Magistrate, is part of a plot with massive ramifications and Lu faces a lethal threat personally when he is framed for murder in a judicial system where there is no ‘innocent until proven guilty’ or ‘fair trial’, but full of vice and often antiquated methods.

As I said, this one went darker than I anticipated.  It was too much for me at times.  North Koreans fleeing intolerable living conditions only to find that their misery got worse when they reached China into the hands of traffickers who work with corrupt officials to go about their filthy business.  The violence was gritty and what was going on was brutal at times.  No one, not even Inspector Lu comes through pristine.  This is old style noir in some ways.  And, this read more like a thriller- the second book had shades of this, too. 

I wasn’t expecting this to take that tone and I had to adjust from my thinking that I was going to get more straight up investigation.  My heart was broken by so much I was hearing, but I was really behind Lu Fey more than ever as he stands like a light standard in the dark (probably unrealistic in the climate he’s working, but I needed something bright and hopeful to grasp).

Speaking of something bright, I do love the way Lu takes protective care of his police team and his special down time with Yanyan. There is some amusing witting dialogue exchanges with him and others, too.

I’ve listened to the series on audio so I am used to and like PJ Ochlan’s narration work.  He is smooth through the cultural words and talented with the distinct members of the character cast.  He brought the storyline to life and kept me right in the moment.

All in all, I’m still reeling from this one and it will stick with me a bit after because of the darker content.  For most, the next book will be a must-listen/read, but I might have to wait and see if it’s one I can handle.  I definitely recommend this wonderful series that is strong on culture and feels authentic with a good twisting mystery and unique characters.

Amazon | Audible

About Brian Klingborg

Brian Klingborg is a graduate of Harvard's Regional Studies East Asia program, and spent many years living and working in Asia and Europe. In addition to his first novel, Kill Devil Falls, published in 2017, he's written widely on Chinese martial arts. His second novel, Thief of Souls, will be published by Minotaur Books

About P.J. Ochlan

P.J. Ochlan

P. J. Ochlan, an Audie Award–nominated and multiple AudioFile Earphones Award–winning narrator, has recorded close to 200 audiobooks. His acting career spans more than thirty years and has included Broadway, the New York Shakespeare Festival (under Joseph Papp), critically acclaimed feature films, and regular roles in television series. Along the way, he's worked with countless icons, including Jodie Foster, Clint Eastwood, Robin Williams, Al Pacino, and Garry Marshall.

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About Sophia Rose

Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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10 Responses to “The Magistrate by Brian Klingsborg”

    • Sophia Rose

      Yeah, I can do it, but then I have to read something sunny and light or wait until the right mood. It was really good and stirred me up about human trafficking abroad.

    • Sophia Rose

      Yeah, it hit me hard when I read it. In certain moods, I struggle to read it even in fiction. But, it was great to see him tackle them. 🙂

  1. Silvia

    Dark reads always have a special appeal that usually makes me devour a book, but I recognise that there are some that can make you want to take a break here and there because of the depth of the subject matter . . . Still, I’m glad to hear that this series is culturally strong and authentic, it sounds really interesting and deep.

    • Sophia Rose

      Yeah, I can read these darker elements, but I have to be in the right mind set and I wasn’t at the time. I think you’d love this one with the strong sense of culture throughout, Silvia.