A forced-to-be detective, and a gang of talented criminals who can only be caught by him.A perfect mix between Chinese versions of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Silence of the Lambs.
I use blade, blood and cases of criminology to paint on the terrified faces. Before the masterpiece is completed, who can deduce the Death’s next step? Who have the chance to enjoy the art of death? Is it you?
Three young women are found dead one after another in Jiangbin City, each horribly murdered and disemboweled in her home. Police investigations reveal that the killer is a monster who likes to mix milk together with human blood—and then drink it. Is he some kind of immortal vampire, straight out of legend? A series of four rape and murder cases surface in Changhong City. All of the victims are white-collar workers between the ages of twenty-five and thirty. A graduate student at the top of his class suddenly goes mad and begins attacking his friends and fellow classmates.
After a succession of seemingly unrelated homicides occurring not far from the city, the police are still completely at a loss. A television viewer sends in a letter with a sketch of what he claims is the murderer’s face. Intrigued, the chief of the Public Security Bureau seeks out the author of the letter, and to his surprise it is a reticent, anti-social university student—Fang Mu.
After the killer is executed, however, another spate of homicides begins to crop up. Was Fang Mu mistaken? Following deductive reasoning, he realizes that the ultimate victim will be Fang Mu himself. Can he “profile” this monster and discover his true identity before it’s too late?
Fang Mu. He is sensitive, fragile, and deeply afraid of death, but has been blessed with innate skill and an intuition that allows him to solve crimes with almost miraculous proficiency. His instinctual process of elimination causes him to be drawn inexorably down into a cruel whirlpool of murder cases, and during a constant battle of wits with the killers, Fang Mu begins to discover that he has his own dark side, deep within his psyche. He seems to be no different from them; his blood flows with all sorts of insane but somehow superlative criminal thoughts. At the same time that he uncovers the identity of a killer, he also reveals his own indecisiveness and loss of self-control.
Using a deft pen planted firmly in the foundations of realism, a heavy flavor of the aesthetics of crime, trains of thought and reasoning that are totally different from what ordinary people might be used to, and reflections on ethics that are truly thought-provoking, the author has provided readers with a new perspective from which to understand a realistic version of China society.
They came for me again last night.
As before, they quietly surrounded my bed, not saying a word. As before, I lay frozen in place, staring wide-eyed at their scorched and headless bodies. And as before, he leaned in close and whispered into my ear: “Actually, you and I are the same.”
By then I was used to meeting them in the night. And yet, I was still dripping with sweat.
At last they left without a word, and I could once more hear the sound of Du Yu breathing peacefully on the bed across the room.
A cold shaft of moonlight streamed through the window. The flames had disappeared. The air was a little cool.
I heaved myself onto my stomach and reached for the military dagger hidden beneath my pillow. As I grasped its scarred handle, my breathing grew calm.
Soon I was once more fast asleep.
Occasionally I still visit the old teacher’s college. I sit amid the flowerbeds on a bench that faces the door to Men’s Dormitory 2. An ancient scholar tree once stood there, but now there are flowers of all colors and sizes, their names unknown to me. They wave coquettishly in the faint breeze without a care in the world. Often I will stare at the building before me, a modern, seven-story student apartment block, and do my best to remember how it used to look: faded red brick, tottering wooden window frames, paint peeling from the iron outer door.
And I will see the faces of the young students who once lived here.
Without warning, my heart will seize with pain, as if struck by a sudden sadness. And in this moment of distraction, the floodgates to my memory will quietly slide open, unleashing an endless torrent.
If you knew me, you’d probably think I was a loner. Most of the time, I make an effort to keep to myself. I eat alone, I walk alone. Even when I’m in class, I avoid sitting with anyone else.
Stay away. That’s what the look in my eyes says to anyone who tries to understand me. But while people keep their distance, I still know all about them; their behavior, their temperaments, their daily habits. So if you’re in class, in the cafeteria, or walking around campus, and you see a pale, carelessly-dressed young man who’s sizing-up everyone around him, that’s me.
I live in Room 313, Building B of Dormitory 5 at Jiangbin City University. My roommate is named Du Yu, a post-grad studying for his Master’s in Jurisprudence. Seeing as we live together and are both at the law school, he’s one of the few people I talk to on a regular basis. He’s a sweet-natured guy, and is always trying to get me to hang out so I won’t “seem so lonely all the time”—not that I care, of course. Still, I don’t mind chatting with him from time to time, nor with Zhang Yao, his slightly over-the-top-delicate girlfriend.
“Hey, let’s eat together.”
I was eating a bowl of hand-cut noodles slathered in chili paste and focusing intently on my computer screen, which was displaying several photographs and their accompanying descriptions. I hadn’t noticed Du Yu and his girlfriend came in.
They were barbecued lamb skewers that seemed to have just gotten out of the fire. The meat was sprinkled with chili and cumin powder and dripped with yellow grease. Du Yu held one out for me. A scorched odor flooded my nostrils.
In an instant my face must have turned whiter than the wall behind me. I stared blankly at the outstretched kabob. Then my stomach burbled, I retched, and vomited a mouthful of half-chewed noodles back into my bowl.
Covering my mouth, I grabbed the bowl—now filled to the brim with the still-steaming contents of my stomach—and rushed out of the room. Behind me I could hear Zhang Yao cry out in surprise, “What’s wrong with him?”
Drained, I leaned over the bathroom sink and scrubbed my face with water. When I looked up, the dirty mirror on the wall reflected a pale face, dripping with water and cold sweat. A dull look was in its eyes and traces of vomit stuck to the corners of its mouth.
Again I bent over and retched, but I could feel my stomach was empty. There was nothing left to expel. So I climbed shakily to my feet, put my face under the tap, and gulped several mouthfuls of cold water. I swished it around in my mouth and then spat it back out.
Tossing the bowl in the trash, I stumbled back to my room.
The place was a mess. Zhang Yao was sitting on Du Yu’s bed, her head between her knees. A big pool of vomit covered the floor before her and an acidic odor filled the room. Holding his nose, Du Yu tossed a washbasin in front of his girlfriend.
Seeing me enter, Zhang Yao looked up. Her face was soaked with tears and sweat. Pointing at me, she tried to say something, but was racked by another fierce bout of vomiting.
Du Yu gave me an awkward look. “Yaoyao was curious what was up with you just now, so she went to look at your computer screen. She only glanced at it for a second before…”
I ignored him and walked straight to my computer. The monitor still showed the web page I had been browsing. On it were several photographs. One was of a rotted skull, the skin of its face and neck already peeled away. The other three were of the victim’s limbless torso and of her left and right hands. These pictures were from the scene of a murder committed in Wisconsin in the year 2000. After downloading them to my hard drive, I saved them in a folder titled: “Excessive Damage”.
When I was done, I stood up and walked over to Zhang Yao. I bent down beside her. “You all right?” I asked.
Zhang Yao was so weak from throwing up that she was practically limp. When she saw me, she looked terrified and tried to back away. “Don’t come near me!” she cried.
Trembling, she raised one arm, pointed at the computer, and then pointed at me. For a moment, her lips quivered. At last, through clenched teeth, she spat out a single word: “Freak!”
“Yaoyao!” yelled Du Yu, giving me an uneasy look.
I grinned at him to show I didn’t mind.
After all, I really didn’t. I am a freak. I know.
My name is Fang Mu. Two years ago, something terrible happened, and I was the only survivor.