The Danilov Series.


Unique and suspenseful - fantastic debut crime novel., 10 Sept. 2015

We’re taken to Shanghai in the 1920s - a multicultural vibrant city where 4 million people are policed by just 150 police officers across many languages and nationalities. Into the midst of this smog-filled city comes a brutal serial killer who is torturing and killing people, then marking their body with ancient Chinese symbols and leaving them on display.
Inspector Danilov, a Russian police officer who was turn from his family during the civil war, is a somewhat prickly, formal man who keeps to himself - making few friends amongst the average police officer. At night he smokes opium, struggling with his isolated life and missing family. Assisted by young constable Strachan who just wants to make his dead father proud and have a good meal every day, he must try to solve the clues and find the pattern to the killings, before a patsy is found to take the fall and more people die.

The chaos of Shanghai is a unique and vibrant setting, and the backdrop of the 1920s really made this book stand out. Whilst the writing is somewhat more formal than I’m used to - that fits perfectly with the characters and the time period. There are a lot of layers here, and miles of depth to the story, with the supporting cast all being well written characters in their own right. Very subtle, dry humour at points really brought the book to life for me as well.

I had a lot of empathy for Danilov by the end of the novel, and would love to find out what happens to him, his family and of course, the endearing and brave Strachan in the future. An outstanding debut crime novel from M.J.Lee - and I’m really happy to see that this will be a series!

Christy. Amazon Top 500 reviewer

"Death in Shanghai, 10 Sept. 2015
This is the first in the Inspector Pyotr Danilov series and is set in Shanghai, 1928. We first meet Danilov, of the Shanghai Municipal Police, when he is called to the discovery of a body on, ‘the Beach of Dead Babies.’ However, the blonde on the beach is not what she first appears and, before long, it becomes apparent that this violent murder is one of a series of brutal killings – becoming more frequent and more audacious.

Inspector Danilov originally comes from Minsk and, having lost his family, lives with the guilt and loneliness. He worked in London before carving out a career in Shanghai, but is resented, and disliked, by many of his colleagues and relies on opium to help him cope with his feelings of depression. When he suggests that a serial killer is stalking the streets of Shanhai, Chief Inspector Boyle is disbelieving. However, with the help of the young Detective Constable Strachan, Danilov sets out to discover who is to blame for the abduction and gruesome murders of a rising count of victims.

This is, at times, quite a violent book – although most of the scenes are imagined, rather than graphic. However, I applaud the author for giving the reader an unusual setting and a great cast of characters. I found Danilov extremely sympathetic and liked the half-Chinese Strachan; so desperate to live up to his dead father’s expectations and always, wisely, with his eye on the next meal. Along with the main characters are a great supporting cast; from the pathologist, Dr Fang, to Danilov’s bullying police colleagues. This is also a great portrait of Shanghai in the 1920’s and the city, at times, almost becomes a character in the story.

This is, hopefully, the start of a long running series featuring Inspector Danilov who, I feel, is also likely to become a favourite character of mine. An excellent, and very promising, mystery.

S. Riaz. Amazon Top 50 reviewer"

"An exciting read, dark and thrilling. Couldn’t put it down., 29 Sept. 2015

Shanghai in the 1920s and a killer is roaming the streets, committing particularly brutal and inventive murders. Danilov, a Russian immigrant to the city, now employed by the Police, has the job of tracking him down.

I bought this after reading the other reviews and wasn’t disappointed.

I loved the cosmopolitan flavour and the reflection of the Chinese culture with Russian, French and English characters in a multi-cultural Shanghai. All the classic elements are in place: multiple bodies, an atmospheric setting, world-weary characters, a vivid, gritty ambience, making an exciting read.

The ending took me by surprise and as the blurb promises that this is just the beginning of a series, I’m looking forward to the next one to find out what becomes of Danilov and his sidekick, Strachan. Well worth reading.

Dancing Diva. Blogger."

"The descriptive writing is fabulous., 18 Dec. 2015
1920’s Shanghai makes an interesting location for this debut novel by MJ Lee. Full of intrigue, eerily haunting, tense & atmospheric a fine story in which we are introduced to Danilov, a Russian police officer who is intent on finding the killer lurking in the city. Working alongside the younger Strachan they make a good team.

The bodies start amassing & it is imperative they piece the clues together to prevent any more deaths. Some of it is gruesome & made my stomach roll but the descriptive writing is fabulous. It kept me glued to the page & I wanted to keep reading ‘just a little bit more’ in order to find out what happens.

Danilov was forced to leave his family behind as he escaped Minsk & has no idea if they are still alive .. he struggles with his emotions & relies on opium. Strachan is determined to make his dead father proud so there is a basis on which to continue this series (hopefully) so we can delve more into their complex lives.

Plenty of colourful characters populate the storyline & it is clear life in that era was not easy for many of them .. all-in-all a highly enjoyable book.

Ali, the Dragon Slayer. Blogger."

"this brilliant thriller engages you from the start, 5 Oct. 2015

1920’s Shanghai is the setting where we meet for the first time Inspector Danilov.

When a blonde is washed up on the ‘Beach of Dead Babies’ brutally murdered, this brilliant thriller engages you from the start. Not one for nonsense and very set in his ways, the quirks of Danilov made him a likable character. He has an eye for detail and I imagine if you met him in a bar, he would be the quiet one in he corner just simply observing.

Death in Shanghai is an elegant read and richly descriptive. Our killer is classy, clever and not once did I guess who he was, in fact at one point I thought it was Miss Cavendish.

The reader really gets a feel for the location of this novel, the hawkers, the way of life right down to the smells of the cigarettes. I loved it. It is a cleverly plotted tale that beguiles, interests and most of all excites. Getting to know Danilov and the rest of the characters is really quite a thrill and M J Lee’s introduction of him is fascinating, and with THAT ending I for one can’t wait for the next instalment.
Postcard Reviews. Blogger."