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Eight Skilled Gentlemen Paperback – December 1, 1990
"A Criminal Magic" by Lee Kelly
THE NIGHT CIRCUS meets THE PEAKY BLINDERS in Lee Kelly's new magical realism, crossover novel and casts a spell of magic, high stakes and intrigue against the backdrop of a very different Roaring Twenties. Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
JK: All fans of the Master Li books want to know why the series stopped after Eight Skilled Gentlemen. Can you explain?
BH: The Master Li books were a tightrope act and hard to write, but not, alas, very remunerative. Still, I would have continued as originally planned if I'd had a supportive publisher: seven novels ending with my heroes' deaths in the battle with the Great White Serpent, and their elevation to the Great River of Stars as minor deities guaranteed to cause the August Personage of Jade almost as much trouble as the Stone Monkey. Unfortunately I had St. Martins, which didn't even bother to send a postcard when I won the World Fantasy Award; Ballantine, which was dandy until my powerhouse editor dropped dead and her successors forgot my existence; and Doubleday, which released The Story of the Stone three months before the pub date, guaranteeing that not one copy would still be on the shelves when reviews came out, published the hardcover and the paperback of Eight Skilled Gentlemen simultaneously, and then informed me they would bring out further volumes in paperback only, meriting, of course, a considerably reduced advance.
The two find themselves in attendance at the Peking execution day, where the current royal execution is going for a record 1,071 clean decapitations. At the very last moment, a vampire ghoul makes a daytime appearance in hot pursuit of the city guard. This causes the Devil's Hand to miss his stroke, and Master Li jumps at the opportunity to investigate. Finding that one of the vampire's victims appears to be an august resident of the Forbidden City, Master Li confronts the Celestial Master (the wisest Confucian in the realm) and is invited to investigate what appears to be an impossible series of events.
Befriending a roving puppeteer and his beautiful daughter, Master Li and Number Ten chase across China looking for clues in what appears to be a complex smuggling plot that uses magical, golden cages as telephones. However, the cages are more than etheric portables, and the present holders of them keep meeting horrible fates at the hands of weird monsters and an ape. Who these creatures are, the purpose of the cages, and what any of this has to do with the annual Death Birds Ghost Boat Rain Race are the mysteries that Master Li has to solve.
This is a plot that sends the reader careening across the pages like a pinball in a bumper factory. The sense of the tale is always just beyond the reader's grasp as Hughart unfolds Number Ten's narrative at high pace.Read more ›
This is the third book in an intended series of seven, which most regrettably was not completed. As such, Eight Skilled Gentlemen was not intended as the final Master Li story, and we are left waiting for the next marvelous case. Hughart apparently intended to conclude the series in traditional Chinese mythological fashion, by deifying his truth-seeking protagonists. He never wrote that story, but the extraordinary Li Kao and Number Ten Ox have achieved a form of immortality just the same. They are just as vivid in the final book as in the first two, and I deeply regret not having the chance to invite them over for a jar of wine or two.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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It took me a 2nd reading to really get hold of this book, at the 1st one I was a little disappointed that the taste for Hughart version of China has gone... Read more
I love Hughart's books! True they are light and easy to read, but he invests a great deal of love into his characters and it shows in brilliant dialog and wonderful story telling.Published 11 months ago by Bob G. Childs
After reading Bridge of Birds, I bought the other 2 Hughart wrote. The only real downside is that's all he wrote!Published 15 months ago by Mom
As usual, and for no good reason, Australia isn't allowed buy this most excellent series of kindle books. Read morePublished on October 20, 2013 by Dakhur
Mr. Hughart's first novel Bridge of Birds captured my fancy. I had no idea he had written two other novels until I happened upon them on line. Read morePublished on December 4, 2012 by Fannie Lee Lowe
I've held on to my paperback copy of this book for 20 years. I reread it every couple of years, and am happy once again to watch the magic happen. Read morePublished on March 29, 2012 by JS
Uproariously funny in places. Does an outstanding job of blending Chinese mythology with a detective case. The characters are splendid rogues. Read morePublished on August 1, 2011 by Chip E. Miller