The Slaughter Pavilion – Reviews

“The Slaughter Pavilion has an arresting opening: a man falls from the roof of a building in the business district of Beijing, leaving behind the frozen body of a child tied to an advertising boarding. Sampson’s private eye, a former cop called Song, feels impelled to investigate further because he ignored the man’s plea for help… Sampson moves deftly through urban and rural locations, conveying the pervasive sense of being watched that means only the most desperate dare challenge the lies of the state.”

– Joan Smith in The Sunday Times

… Private investigator Song Ren is not allowed to investigate crimes, but he gets involved in the tragic case of a man who throws himself off a building, leaving behind the frozen body of his murdered child. The ups and downs of his investigation make this not only an outstanding thriller, but also a powerfully informative read. Sampson, a former BBC and Times correspondent in Beijing, peels the lid off a putrid tale of murder and child abduction that is a growth industry in China. Tightly written and quite compelling.

– Matthew Lewin writing in The Guardian

An excellent murder mystery…. and a fascinating portrait of contemporary China.

The Literary Review

“Sampson strikes just the right note as she shows the nature of a society in which the disclosure of official corruption or incompetence is punishable for bringing shame on the government. This is not only an absorbing mystery, but a fascinating social commentary, and highly recommended.”

– Susanna Yager in the Sunday Telegraph

I’ve enjoyed Catherine Sampson’s three previous novels very much, but with THE SLAUGHTER PAVILION she truly comes into her own…This book is confident and fast-paced… One of the many pleasures of this excellent novel is the confidence with which China is presented, both from the point of view of the relatively sophisticated urban Song and Blue, and also from the view of the peasants, who have little access to the technology and knowledge of the modern age. The book is infused with local detail that can come only from someone who truly knows a country: the author has been Beijing correspondent for the Times and now lives in China; she makes good use of her knowledge of the country itself and of how its deprived people find and share information under the radar of officialdom. The book is neither a travelogue nor a political tract. It is a very good page-turner of a novel, with a great plot, convincing locales and superb characters. One could want nothing more – except the next in the series.

– Maxine Clarke, writing at