Now a BBC Radio 4 Drama Series. Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police Bureau is summoned by an official of the Party to lead a highly charged corruption investigation.
Tentacles have spread through the police force, the civil service, the vice trade and deep into the criminal underworld.
The principal figure and his family have long since fled to the United States, beyond the reach of the Chinese government.
But the network is still intact and it is only a matter of time before it becomes stronger than before.
Chen is charged - and it is a job he cannot refuse - with uncovering those responsible, and destroying the organisation from the top down to its roots.
In a twisting case that reunites him with his counterpart from the US Marshals service - Inspector Catherine Rohn - Chen must find a measure of justice in a corrupt, expedient world.