Ding Mo is one of the most successful internet c-novelists. She's one of the few who actually quit her day job to focus on writing. I have actually not read any of her other works because her plot synopsis has never really ever attracted me - they always seem to portend something ominous and dire. "He Has Come, Please Close Your Eyes" however has always stayed in my mind as a c-novel to read because I think it was one of the forerunners for combining crime/detective/criminal profiling and the genre of romance novels.
I was finally motivated to pick it up when I heard that it was going to be made into a chinese drama with Wallace Huo as the lead! Indeed, Wallace Huo's face is perfect for the male lead, although he definitely isn't as tall as what was envisioned in the novel.
If you don't like spoilers, then I suggest you not read my review. Haha. Stop here, knowing that this is a love story between a genius criminal profiler, Bo Jin Yan, and a simple but strong-minded english interpreter, Jian Yao, as they search for the truth in the most grisly and perverted of murders and the truth within themselves.
The book synopsis I translated:
When you have an intelligent, proud and loyal boyfriend......
When dating he says, "I have no interest in such things. But, if you give me a kiss every ten seconds, I can accompany you to do any boring thing."
When being jealous, he says, "Compared to me, this man has "stupid" written from his head to toes. The only place where he isn't stupid is that he also knows that you are a good woman."
When making love, he says, "Although I don't have experience, but my physical endowments and powers of comprehension are exceptional. I may also add that my skills of observation are very good."
When proposing, he says, "Words cannot express. If I must try to sum it up, it is this - I love you, with all my intelligence and life."
I brought him out of his lonely world into the bustling warm city.
But, he led me from my peaceful and ordinary life towards an exciting and reckless destiny.
You can click here for the shusheng link (someone has picked it up as a translation project!) or two different chinese links to read it from: one and two.
The story starts with Jian Yao heading into a villa in the mountains. It sounds very secluded and even a little haunted at the start. Jian Yao is looking to get a temporary job as an interpreter during her university break around her rural hometown. This is when Jian Yao first meets Fu Zi Yu - not the first male lead, but that perfect supporting character who always knows what to say and supports both the female and male lead towards each other. Fu Zi Yu is a playboy doctor (with a painful past, don't they always?) and the only friend of the reclusive genius criminal profiler, Bo Jin Yan. Jian Yao passes Bo Jin Yan's test and becomes his interpreter.
She is also really good at fishing and this gains Bo Jin Yan's interest since he really loves fish! A horrible case happens in the town and they actually suspect the reclusive Bo Jin Yan as the man who has been kidnapping random young boys. The police of course knows about Bo Jin Yan's illustrious reputation as the top criminal profiler and ropes him in for the case - which he grudgingly accepts after insisting Jian Yao becomes his assistant.
That is the set-up and a very effective one! Bo Jin Yan as someone who is extremely intelligent but with no desires to follow social conventions is a delight. Especially, when he cannot fathom why Jian Yao will not be falling at his feet to become his assistant and he even psycho-analyses Jian Yao at the start. Creepy much? But, Ding Mo is so good at making the strange beautiful and the creepy interesting. Like, when Jian Yao goes and wakes up Bo Jin Yan from his bedroom (he demands she follows him 24/7 while they crack the case) when the corpses are found... Bo Jin Yan accidentally takes her hand and kisses it, calling her Cheng Mo. She freezes thinking that he mistook her for an ex girlfriend, but then quickly realises that Cheng Mo is the name of his large turtle. It's these small subversive sleigh of hands that make this novel such fun to read.
Jian Yao of course falls for Bo Jin Yan - but keeps refusing to become his full-time assistant even as they share the same apartment - Bo Jin Yan stays on the first floor and she stays in the second. Jian Yao does it to protect herself, she knows she likes him but Bo Jin Yan kept saying things that suggest that he didn't like her back - so she retracts. Of course, Bo Jin Yan does like Jian Yao, but he simply hadn't fathomed that he loved her that way. When he does, he picks up really fast (as hinted from his exceptional powers of comprehension), and the couple's love once affirmed - never wavers.
This is a satisfying love story. The cases while interesting are probably less so. There are interesting twists and turns but the ultimate big bad does not get as much of a fleshing out as the case probably deserved. In fact, there are points of inconsistencies and suggested plot lines that seemed to have been dropped - which is why I took out half a star. The other deficiency is probably the lack of development on the female lead, even though she's immensely likeable.
In terms of creepiness and bloodlust, I think the overall story is probably more romantic than gruesome. The last third is both difficult and captivating to read. What can I say? This novel is not perfect, but does get into your heart in an unshakeable way.
I'm going to translate this really cute scene where Bo Jin Yan has tried to make Jian Yao his full time assistant again but it kind of backfires because Jian Yao refuses and hasn't spoken to Bo Jin Yan in days (trying to escape from her own feelings from him). So this scene starts when Bo Jin Yan asks Fu Zi Yu for a meal, which Fu Zi Yu finds strange since Bo Jin Yan has been rejecting eating with Fu Zi Yu when Jian Yao only cooks for two... Actually, this is so cute I translated practically the whole of chapter 33:
When he entered the house, he saw Bo Jin Yan seating elegantly in a suit on the sofa. He was coolly reading a book. Hearing a sound, he lightly lifted his head and gave him a glance, and then resumed reading his book.
From external appearances, everything seemed fine.
Fu Zi Yu sat opposite him and asked casually, "Where shall we eat?"
Fu Zi Yu poured a cup of tea for himself and continued to ask lightly, "Shall I call Jian Yao?"
Bo Jin Yan flips a page in his book, his head did not even lift up, "Anything."
Since Fu Zi Yu hasn't seen Jian Yao for a while, he did miss her. So he stood up and decided to find her upstairs.
As he reached the lift, he heard steady and familiar foot steps behind him.
He turned around and saw Bo Jin Yan's cold handsome face next to him, also waiting for the lift.
Fu Zi Yu: "Why have you followed?"
"Can't I get some air?"
In the lift, Fu Zi Yu watched the rising number in the lift and then turned to watch the calm Bo Jin Yan at the side - to run to a girl's house to catch some air, what a good idea.
Two tall men stood in front of the door.
Fu Zi Yu pressed the door bell again but there was no answer.
He turned to look at Bo Jin Yan, "Since the princess isn't at home. Let's give her a call."
Bo Jin Yan's eyes were still looking through the eye of the door, his tone was disdainful, "Don't you know how to call yourself?"
Looking at Bo Jin Yan's expression, Fu Zi Yu felt a sudden glimmer of light flash through his brain, "The two of you... are in a cold war?"
Bo Jin Yan's colouring slightly changed. He coldly looked at Fu Zi Yu but did not make a sound.
Seeing Bo Jin Yan being defeated made Fu Zi Yu's mood improve tremendously.
In a moment, there was laughter between his brows as he took out his handphone to call Jian Yao: "Beauty Yao, where are you? Ah, you are taking graduation photographs in school......"
As Fu Zi Yu drove, he also mercilessly interrogated.
"So... she hasn't seen you in two days?"
Bo Jin Yan sat in the left passenger seat, his expression even darker than before. Only a low sound of "嗯" came from his throat signalling yes.
Fu Zi Yu was delighted: "She didn't give you a call? Didn't come to find you?"
"She declined your invitation to eat? She has been ignoring you?"
“哼。” [a disgruntled sound]
Fu Zi Yu's smile became wider and even his driving became smoother. Bo Jin Yan saw Fu Zi Yu's gleeful expression and coldly rebutted, "Childish!"
Fu Zi Yu did not hesitate in retorting, "Let's be clear - who is the childish one? Jian Yao's good temper has no equal on earth. If even she no longer bothers about you, then you must have made a mistake. What are you still thinking of? Quickly go and apologise!"
Bo Jin Yan fell silent.
Fu Zi Yu thought for a moment and asked, "Don't tell me you don't even know why she is angry?
Bo Jin Yan gave him a look of disgust, "Of course I know. She's a blank sheet in front of me."
Fu Zi Yu softened his laughter and asked seriously, "Then what is the matter?"
Bo Jin Yan placed his hand on the car door, his long fingers lightly knocking. After a long sigh, he answered, "She doesn't want to see me because she is making a choice between me and Yin Zi Qi*." [*Yin Zi Qi is the CEO of the company Jian Yao works for and Jin Yan's half sister - basically choosing to continue her job or become Jin Yan's full time assistant.]
He briefly described the job offer from Yin Zi Qi. Suddenly, Fu Zi Yu understood, "So it is like this."
Bo Jin Yan lightly laughed, "Clearly, this woman has felt pressure in her heart because of this and is throwing a tantrum at me."
Fu Zi Yu nodded, "You can't blame her. She has studied for so many years to work in this line - it's very difficult for her to make the choice of leaving it. Plus, your job is bloody and tiring, any ordinary girl would never be able to take it. If it's me, I would definitely choose Yin Zi Qi. Is there a better option than being able to choose any department I want?"
At this main point, Bo Jin Yan fell silent. He remembered how Jian Yao was that day in Yin Zi Qi's office. She was smiling but her tone was distant, "Sorry, but I don't think I am your person."
She didn't clearly choose him!
Fu Zi Yu stretched his hand and patted his shoulder, "Do you know what you should do now?"
"What should I do?"
"You need to coax women. If you don't want your assistant to run away, you have to give in to her for everything these few days. She's the greatest. Women are emotional creatures - once they are touched, she will choose you."
It was in the deep of summer. Under the radiant sun rays, the white school walls, the jade green grass, all seemed to be covered in a golden glaze. Because it was graduation season, everywhere people were dressed in scholar robes and the four-cornered caps, happily taking pictures to commemorate the occasion with their fellow students.
Fu Zi Yu stopped his car in a sheltered tree-lined lane. He leaned on the car with Bo Jin Yan and looked at the girls on the grass grounds.
The foreign language department lived up to its name - there were beauties all around. Jian Yao could not be considered the most beautiful. But, her long glistening hair, her fair white complexion, her jet black eyes, still made her striking.
Right now, Jian Yao and a girl were leaning on each other's backs, their chest raised and their chins lifted. They were imitating model poses in a magazine and making all kinds of alluring and seductive expressions for their classmates to take photographs of. The sun light fell on her unblemished porcelain face, her curved lashes, her smile so sweet like a pool of clean spring water.
The two men had never seen such a playful side of her. Fu Zi Yu laughed, "Ah, it reminds me of the beautiful memories of university." He turned aside and saw that there was also a smile on Bo Jin Yan's face.
Fu Zi Yu was dazed - this was super abnormal.
He asked, "Don't you dislike women posing the most?" There were many hot girls in university who tried to gain Bo Jin Yan's attention by pushing out their chests and showing off their figures. Later, when these girls asked him out, Bo Jin Yan always refused clearly - I hate women who keep posing.
Facing Fu Zi Yu's question, Bo Jin Yan answered candidly, "Is this considered posing? She's very natural." He gave him a glance, "If you have time, please raise your standard of appreciating beauty."
Fu Zi Yu was a man who had dated the world's supermodels. Just as he wanted to rebut, he saw the light smile flowing through Bo Jin Yan's gaze.
Fu Zi Yu was slightly shocked as he followed Bo Jin Yan's gaze and turned to look at Jian Yao in the distance.
Very quickly, the girls dispersed. The weather was hot and Jian Yao started to take off the robes with the other girls.
Fu Zi Yu neatened his clothes and looked at Bo Jin Yan, "You go and sit inside first."
Bo Jin Yan: "Why?"
"What if she is scared away by you? She doesn't want to see you now."
Bo Jin Yan stared at him for a few seconds then went to open the car door without a sound and sat in the left passenger seat.
"Close the windows!" Fu Zi Yu continued to order. Ah, he really wants to laugh.
Seeing Bo Jin Yan close the windows with a frosty expression, Fu Zi Yu finally turned and called out, "Jian Yao!"
Jian Yao let her classmates leave first then turned to walk towards Fu Zi Yu. After a few steps, she saw that there appeared to be a person sitting in the car behind him.
She pretended not to see and smilingly greeted Fu Zi Yu.
Actually, in the last few days, she had not entirely intended to hide from Bo Jin Yan. It just happened to be graduation and she was busy eating meals to commemorate this with her classmates.
But, it was true that she did not want to see him.
"Let's go eat," Fu Zi Yu opened the back door of the car and bowed down, "You don't know how much I have missed you!"
Jian Yao paused for a moment, gave him a smile and sat in the car.
There was very little traffic in the afternoon and the car travelled smoothly.
There was soft and gentle music playing in the car. As Fu Zi Yu hummed along to the melody, he would occasionally speak to Jian Yao. Jian Yao also asked about his job at the hospital and the mood seemed companionable.
Except for Bo Jin Yan silently in a corner - it was not clear what he was thinking about.
After a while, Jian Yao could not help but look in his direction. From her direction, she could only see his silent side profile.
"Jian Yao, what would you like to eat?" Fu Zi Yu asked.
"Ah, everything is fine. You can decide," Jian Yao answered.
Ah? Why does she feel like something isn't right in the car?
She quickly gazed around and suddenly stopped.
It was the rear view mirror.
It reflected Bo Jin Yan's long and bright eyes. He was concentrating his gaze at her, as if seriously observing her each and every move.
How long has he stared at her?
Jian Yao felt her cheeks warming up, but her heart became even more frustrated. She hid herself behind Fu Zi Yu's seat and blocked his sight.
Look look look, what are you looking at!
They went to a cantonese restaurant. The waiter brought them to a booth for four persons with a curtain for privacy. Outside the window, there was a little flower garden that was quite exquisite.
Just as Jian Yao sat down, Bo Jin Yao also naturally sat next to her - as usual.
Jian Yao did not make any sound.
Fu Zi Yu passed her the menu, "Today, the lady will decide on everything."
Jian Yao didn't refuse and accepted the menu. When she was ordering, the two men were conversing in english about the Fresh Flower Cannibal No. 2 case in low voices.
There were two soups for today. As Jian Yao flipped the menu, she asked, "Mushroom soup or Pig stomach soup, which would your like?"
"Pig stomach," Fu Zi Yu answered.
Jian Yao did not lift her head, "Jin Yan?" Once she said it, she lightly paused.
"Mushroom," His voice contained a trace of laughter.
Jian Yao did not look at him and continued to order. The waiter asked, "Miss, what soup do you want?"
Although Jian Yao liked mushroom soup, her mouth wanted to say "Pig stomach". Who knew that Bo Jin Yan would speak before her, "She also wants mushroom."
Fu Zi Yu who felt deserted at one side looked at Bo Jin Yan's smiling expression and Jian Yao's downcast and white cheeks that were slowly flushing red, she was lightly smiling but did not speak.
Ah, if there was a temperature for ambiguous feelings, he would already have been burnt.
After eating a while, Jian Yao's cup of fruit juice was almost empty and she turned her head to the pitcher of fruit juice on the table. Fu Zi Yu's gaze was sharp and he immediately gave a glance to Bo Jin Yan who was sitting opposite him.
Just as Jian Yao reached out for the pitcher, a fair long hand suddenly reached out and held it before her.
Jian Yao watched as Bo Jin Yan elegantly filled up her glass for her and then placed the cup of fresh orange juice before her.
Jian Yao looked at his calm face and said, "Thank you."
Every time they had eaten, Bo Jin Yan would never do such a thing. It was either Fu Zi Yu or her who topped up the tea and water, while Bo Jin Yan enjoyed everything.
To have him personally top up her fruit juice and then have him politely say, "Enjoy"?
Jian Yao's heart was suspicious as she continued eating.
Perhaps it was because there were matters in her heart, so she was exceptionally quiet today. The three of them ate in silence again. Fu Zi Yu signalled to Bo Jin Yan again: You should initiate conversation! After you offended the girl, you are still waiting for her to talk to you?
Bo Jin Yan lightly nodded his head to indicate that he understood. But who knew that after nodding his head, he lowered his head, took a silver spoon and fork and concentrated on the big fish before him.
Fu Zi Yu could not let this continue any longer - such a cold atmosphere was unbearable. Thus, he ignored Bo Jin Yan and started to chat with Jian Yao.
Although Jian Yao chatted with Fu Zi Yu, her heart was distracted and her gaze would occasionally fall on Bo Jin Yan. But what could she do? Since her feelings were unrequited, she should quickly chop up the emotional strands and exit.
After a while more, Fu Zi Yu's handphone rang and he softly answered it. Jian Yao thus lowered her head and quietly ate, treating the person next to her as not existing.
Suddenly, she felt someone pat her shoulder.
She turned and Bo Jin Yan calmly pushed a full bowl towards her.
Jian Yao was stunned.
It was fish.
A bowl full of fish - a bowl full of perfectly picked out fish - each piece was soft and white, layered neatly upon each other, and all placed before her.
"Enjoy," He gentlemanly said. His face had a pleased expression as he wriggled his ten fingers in the air a little.
Jian Yao was silent for a moment then turned to stare at him, "What are you doing?"
Why did you suddenly pick out a bowl full of your favourite fish for me?
Bo Jin Yan lightly looked at her, "You can't tell?"
Jian Yao shook her head.
She didn't know if she sensed wrongly or perhaps because the dishes were too hot, but his fair white handsome cheeks started to gain a red flush, though his gaze remained cool and arrogant.
"I'm coaxing** you," said a low deep voice.
**The chinese word used here is "哄" which has the connotation of pleasing a child or coaxing a woman. The effect is both innocent and sweet.