Thief of Souls is the first book in a procedural series by Brian Klingborg. Released 4th May 2021 by Macmillan on their St. Martin's Press imprint, it's 288 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats; it makes finding phrases or passages so much easier when reading.
This is a well written modern police procedural set in rural China. I found the characters believable and well rendered, both from their internal motivations and their external interactions with one another and their environs. Despite graduating with honors from the top police university in China, Inspector Lu Fei has had a less than stellar career arc up to this point and has been transferred to a small rural town outside of a major metropolitan area in China. We do become privy to the reasons behind his transfer later in the book (no spoilers). His usual official duties include finding chickens and helping residents with their internet problems. The office is not prepared to deal with a serial killer, yet that's exactly what he's faced with. Soon the CIB (China's FBI equivalent) is called in to help and much of the book turns on the politics of inter-agency investigation and (lack of) cooperation.
Protagonist Lu Fei is both dogged and intelligent and begins to unravel the many layers of complexity tied up in the crimes surrounding the murders as well as uncovering information which powerful local government personnel would strongly prefer to remain hidden. The climax and denouement are satisfying and tensely written. I'm looking forward to future books with Inspector Lu Fei.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.