The Sketch Artist


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A battle of skill between police and criminal suspects, the only weapon a pencil! See how these young Chinese investigators use intelligence and conviction to restore truth to the world.

One Portrait. Twenty-four sketches. Over ten thousand drafts. More than thirty brutal mu*ders. A single trace of evidence, dozens of tests, over a thousand inferences, six cunning suspects and unique situations…In The Sketch Artist, police sketch artist Zhang Chi and trace specialist Gu Shi walk hand in hand down a dangerous road, confronting a diabolical, hidden villain. Close comrades-in-arms or intimate lovers, when facing life or death it’s all instantly insignificant.

But can these ardent young officers win the respect they deserve? When deadly peril strikes will they have the courage to respond? Can these closely-joined lovers rely on their remarkable special skills to defeat the hidden mu*derer? Wait and see…

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Dizzcity rated it
December 6, 2017
Status: c20
When I first started reading this novel, I was very confused about what kind of novel it was.

Was it a detective story, like Sherlock Holmes or the CSI series, or like Bone Painting Coroner, where the primary interest comes from the twists and turns in the case? No, it's not. The cases barely last more than three chapters each, and there is not much dramatic element to them.

Was it a police drama / thriller, like some of the Korean or HK police TV dramas, or like Supernatural Girlfriend, where the... more>> focus is on the team working together and the interpersonal conflicts that happen between them, and the criminal they're hunting? No, there is very little suspense or personal danger posed to the police team, not much sense of struggle either or any strong antagonist.

Was it perhaps a slice-of-life or romance story that just happened to be set in a police station, like You're Under Arrest? There is some evidence of this, but not really either. The descriptions of the characters' internal emotions are far too little and shallow to make it an emotion-driven story.

Is it even a police-procedural story, like perhaps the Law and Order series, where the focus is on how the police and law professionals work together to catch and convict criminals, piecing together evidence to build a case? Sorta, but the process gets cut off after the sketch is drawn. As if the sketch of the criminal is all that is needed.

So, after reading 20 chapters so far, my conclusion is: this is a report comparing police procedures, disguised as a romance between officers, disguised as a detective story. It seems like the story is about two cold-hearted people trying to impress the other with their skills at their respective fields, which will somehow lead to romance, in the author's mind.

You can tell immediately that it was written by a former police officer, because of the author's style. Very dry and detailed on the physical characteristics of the environment, the people and the case, like a police report. Very little exploration of the inner worlds of the characters, creating very little empathy for them. I am absolutely indifferent to all of the characters, besides the elder Gu, because he's the only one that shows any kind of passion. There is very little emotion involved.

This style may be fine if the cases themselves are interesting or dramatic, but the way the cases are described are also dry and about the process more than the resolution. Criminals are not evil, they're bits of data to be fed into the process. We compare different crime-solving processes, one of them proves to be better than the other, and the result (catching the criminal and bringing them to justice) is then left to others. There is no emotional payoff for solving a case in this story. It's just all in a day's work. Which could itself be okay if the author was deliberately trying for this effect, but it seems clear that she wasn't. This is simply the best she could come up with.

Maybe it might improve later. But for now, my review is a solid "Meh." <<less
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WinByDying rated it
August 5, 2019
Status: Completed
The focus of this novel is clear. It's the characters. Who they are, what made them, what happens to them, how they change. Their life basically consists of working for the police force, so of course their life there and the cases they solve are the linchpin holding the character development together. The romance tag is due to the evolving relationship between the two main characters. It's not really similar to most other romance novels on this site, I enjoyed reading about it a lot. I hesitate to call it... more>> a romance novel even, because it's not your typical giddy romance.

The writing style fits the characters. Matter-of-factly, efficient. Take your time, don't miss anything because there's not really any filler. Every case and every described moment builds your impressions of the characters and their relations further up.

As for the ending, I comfort myself thinking that they both still have the best intentions and they may mellow out later in their lives. It's a melancholic ending, not fulfilling yet fitting.

I often don't like reading open endings, but this one I could live with after some thought.


Some last words. The concept of a character-driven novel, let alone one with more than one protagonist, is something rarely seen or appreciated here. This is not a cultivation novel with one main character, constantly growing stronger, permanently in the spotlight. This is not a romance novel purely about the romance. Hence the confusion of the other reviewer.

If you go into this novel knowing the focus is on the characters, their relations, their change and development, then you'll probably enjoy it a lot more. You need to try to understand them. Otherwise, why would you read The Sketch Artist? Because in my opinion it is a wonderful novel. A bit unique, bittersweet, and intelligent. Criminally underrated! <<less
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