Judge Dee—Confucian Imperial magistrate, inquisitor, and public avenger, based on a famous statesman—was Dutch diplomat and Chinese cultural historian Robert van Gulik’s (1910–67) lasting invention. A welcome addition to the elite canon of fictional detectives, the Judge steps in to investigate homicide, theft, and treason and restores order to the golden age of the Tang Dynasty. In Murder in Ancient China’s first story, we watch as Judge Dee attempts to solve the mystery of an elderly poet murdered by moonlight in his garden pavilion; in the second, set on the eve of the Chinese New Year, the Judge makes two rare mistakes—will peril result?
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A bit too ancient
Interesting concept but it did not give me a feeling for China of several centuries ago. These two stories are quick reads but not memorable.