'Western authors say its rise has been pure gold for suspense novels, filling a gaping hole left by the end of the Cold War. China has its own pack of spy novelists too.
'"The mysterious side of China certainly lends itself to thriller writing," says novelist Adam Brookes.
'The second installment of his critically acclaimed Night Heron trilogy, a spy yarn set between China and the UK, will debut this month.
'"Consider: China has emerged as a global power, yet we do not know how Xi Jinping engineered his rise to the leadership. We barely understand the country's core mechanisms!" he says. "So we spy, to find out. And suddenly you have all sorts of dramatic possibilities."'