Following the resounding success of global bestseller Midnight in Peking, author Paul French has published City of Devils. A dramatic non-fiction account of Shanghai’s lawless 1930s, the book follows a meticulously researched narrative from the author, having lived in Shanghai for ten years.
Delivering an intriguing insight into Shanghai’s pre-war underworld, City of Devils is a snapshot of the city before the Japanese invaded: a time when Shanghai was overrun by crime, with outlaws from all over the world using the city as a base to escape fascism, communism and the law. Alongside involving a historic account of Shanghai during the 1930s and 1940s, the book is dominated by the stories of two main characters – ‘Lucky’ Jack Riley and ‘Dapper’ Joe Farren – both inextricably linked to the underground economy of interwar Shanghai.
Riley, an ex-Navy boxing champion and convict on the run from an American jail, rose to become the ‘Slot King of Shanghai’, having spotted an exponentially soaring craze for gambling. Farren, on the other hand, became ruler of the clubs, in that day: A Jewish boy who fled Vienna’s ghetto with a dream of dancehalls. Both men re-invent themselves and eventually bestride the Shanghai ‘Badlands’ like kings, as accounted throughout this story of their rise to power, their downfall, and the trail of destruction left in their wake.
In researching for the book, Paul French also obtained ‘Dapper’ Joe Farren’s original cocktail book from his infamous DD’s bar. The ‘DD’s Own’ is an authentic Jazz Age Shanghai cocktail, featuring a simple concoction of brandy, angostura bitters, Italian vermouth and a dash of absinthe.
1 Dash Angostura Bitters
1 Dash Absinthe
½ Italian Vermouth
Shake well. Add cherry and squeeze lemon peel on top.
City of Devils by Paul French is available now, Riverrun, 2018, RRP £16.99.