Skinner's Box

Skinner's Box

Fang Mu Series (Eastern Crimes) Book 2 |Mystery & Thriller

Translator: Gabriel Ascher
Available on Amazon: Kindle US   Kindle UK   Paperback


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 stand amid the labyrinth of death, watching the blood spreading everywhere. Can the good and the evil be really educated? I enjoy the feeling of being the God, while pushing my own children into the abyss more horrible than death.

Deep within an underground labyrinth, a man is found electrocuted to death; high on the top shelf of a department store’s stuffed animal display wall, a giant teddy bear suddenly begins to drip blood; a man’s corpse is discovered, castrated, and with his arms around a sex doll whose clothing is completely intact…. Are they all part of a group of injured guinea pigs? Or are they themselves cruel, perverted killers? Is this an age-old theater, a purging remedy for redemption, or some sort of fiendish ritual? Fang Mu is once again pulled into a vortex of massacre. Does he allow this to happen out of a sense of duty? Or is there something else inside him, guiding him against his will?


Author Lei Mi has been called the king of the Chinese crime novel. Employed at China Criminal Police University as a teacher of criminal psychology, he has a clear insight into all sorts of criminal behavior. Early in 2007, with the publishing of the Psychological Criminals series (which, along with the prequel The Seven Readers, has been called the Fang Mu series by readers), this book’s performance was no more than mediocre at first in a Chinese marketplace that had grown accustomed to European and American crime novels. Still, a small number of readers became deeply fascinated by it.

Before they were formally published, the second book, Skinner’s Box, and the third book, Blade of Silence, had already gained 600,000 fans by word of mouth alone. By December 2012, City Lights, the fourth book in the Psychological Criminals series, was hot off the press and had climbed straight to fifth place in Amazon China’s new release rankings list in the suspense category. In this series of novels, you will read about an unprecedented new master sleuth.

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.


Skinner's Box : Part 1

The city was still shrouded in afternoon smog. Particles of an indistinct texture seemed to drift through the air, frivolous yet quite real. On the roads that slashed the metropolis into disarray, an armada of cars oozed along like a slow flood of steel as if they, too, were feeling overwhelmed by the oppressive atmosphere. It was the most languid part of the day in this heavily polluted city of industry.

A drop of the flood’s water deviated from its original direction of travel, following an overpass to wind steeply downward. After passing over a spider’s web of tangled streets, it stopped in front of an old-fashioned three-story building.

Below it, a van door on which was printed Changhong City TV: ‘Make Your Dreams Come True’ Production Team abruptly slid open and a few people jumped out of the vehicle, their bodies bustling with nimble activity.

One of them, a rather pretty young woman, ran her fingers through her hair and addressed the driver. “You’re sure this is the right place?” When he gave an affirmative answer, she turned to the director nearby. “What time did you arrange the meeting with Teacher Qin?”

“Two o’clock.” The director was browsing through the recording schedule in his hands. “The old lady said she had to tidy up a bit so the place wouldn’t be so messy.”

The young woman glanced at her watch. “Hmm. Close enough. Hey, what about Little Luo?” She looked around and then walked to the front of the vehicle and knocked on the passenger-side window.

“Oy, get out. What are you doing staring off into space like that?”

A young man wearing a gloomy expression was sitting inside the van, gazing steadily at the three-story building. Upon hearing the woman shout at him, he took a deep breath, gathered a bouquet of yellow chrysanthemums from the backseat, and got out of the van.

The woman had already struck a pose in front of the building with a microphone in her hand and was chattering through her lines in preparation. When she saw Little Luo still standing there not moving, she impatiently waved him over to take a spot next to her.

As soon as the director signaled to start recording, the woman’s face broke into a professional smile.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I’m Guan Li, program host for ‘Make Your Dreams Come True.’ We are now standing right downstairs from the home of Little Luo’s homeroom teacher from high school, Teacher Qin. In a moment we will take Little Luo to visit Teacher Qin, whom he has looked forward to seeing for a very long time.” She positioned the microphone in front of Little Luo.
“Little Luo, it’s Teachers’ Day today; if you don’t mind my asking, are you excited to be seeing your mentor on such a special day as this? The teacher who once so profoundly changed your destiny?”

Little Luo stared woodenly at the camera lens for a long while before a single word squeezed past his teeth: “Yep.”

Guan Li felt extremely vexed at his lack of expression, but a smile still beamed across her own face. She gave a small laugh.
“Little Luo’s classmates must be so excited. I don’t think anyone would be able to describe in words how it must feel to be moments away from meeting a mentor you haven’t seen in years. So okay, I’ll just ask our viewing friends to please follow our camera with us as we go pay a visit to this kindly and venerable old teacher.”

As soon as the director said “Cut,” the smile on Guan Li’s face disappeared. Knitting her brows, she barked at Little Luo.
“Little Luo, your face just now was too rigid. You need to show an expression that says you are so excited you can’t wait. Don’t be nervous; loosen up a bit.”

Little Luo did not answer. He just stood there stiffly, holding the bouquet and staring at the building, not moving.

“And these flowers, yellow chrysanthemums…” Guan Li’s mouth twitched. “Never mind; there’s no time to get something different.” She wrung her hands. “Okay, let’s go upstairs.”

After passing through a grimy narrow corridor on the third floor, the file of people stopped in front of a metal door set into the left wall. The director signaled that they should shoot a scene of everyone entering the apartment. When everything was ready, Guan Li’s face recovered its smile as she raised her hand to knock, and the camera went into action.

“Who’s there?” an aged female voice sounded from the other side of the door.

“We’re from the TV network. If you please, is Teacher Qin home?”

The door opened to reveal a thin, withered woman standing in the door frame. The smile that appeared on her face seemed a bit forced and from time to time she glanced at the camera out of the corner of her eye.

“Please, come in; please, come in.”

It was an old-fashioned two-bedroom apartment. The furniture in the room was old but had all been neatly arranged. Everyone stood in the living room, making what had already been an extremely narrow space feel suddenly overcrowded. Teacher Qin, upon seeing the smiling Guan Li and the video camera with its flashing red lights, appeared quite overwhelmed.

Guan Li took Teacher Qin by the hand and spoke to the camera in a sweet voice. “Teacher Qin, first of all, happy Teachers’ Day to you! In celebration of this day, we’ve brought you a special present.” She pointed a finger at the crowd of people. “A student who has come all the way here just to see you.”

Little Luo walked out from behind the cameraman, still holding the bouquet of yellow chrysanthemums in his hands. He stood in front of Teacher Qin and looked her up and down in silence.

Guan Li glared hard at Little Luo and gestured with her hands for him to advance. Hadn’t it been agreed in advance that he should embrace the teacher warmly?

Little Luo paid no attention to her. Suddenly he opened his mouth and asked, “Are you Teacher Qin Yumei?”

Teacher Qin seemed puzzled by his behavior. “Yes. Ah, you…”

“From the high school attended by children of people working at the paper?”

“That’s right. What year did you graduate?”

Little Luo’s expression suddenly relaxed. He even smiled. “No, I wasn’t a student of yours. Do you know Shen Xiang?”

Teacher Qin’s brows wrinkled slightly, as if struggling to find a long-forgotten name in the depths of her memory. “Shen Xiang… Shen Xiang…” Her eyes widened. “You… you’re…”

Without answering, Little Luo extended the bouquet of flowers toward her. Absently, Teacher Qin reached out to accept them, but before her fingers touched the stems, Little Luo had drawn a knife out from behind the bouquet.

She immediately felt an icy cold object pierce her abdomen.


Lei Mi

Lei Mi, formerly known as Liu Peng, a teacher of criminal psychology at China Criminal Police University, is well versed in both criminal psychology and forensic science. His career has given him insight into all sorts of crime, perhaps more so than most people learn in a lifetime. Having become known across the internet for psychological thrillers such as his Criminal Minds series, he has attracted countless fans. His major works include The Seven Readers (published as a serial novel from July to September 2006 in Legends from Today and Ancient Times: End of the Month Stories, and won their prize for best suspense story of 2006), Profiler, Skinner's Box, Blade of Silence, and City Lights. Lei Mi currently teaches in Shenyang.

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