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Judge Dee at Work: Eight Chinese Detective Stories (Judge Dee Mysteries) Paperback – April 15, 2007
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About the Author
Robert van Gulik (1910–67) was a Dutch diplomat and an authority on Chinese history and culture. His many works include sixteen Judge Dee mysteries, a study of the gibbon in China, and two books on the Chinese lute.
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Top Customer Reviews
I have read about half the novels and this book of short stories, and I have enjoyed them all. Early on, Judge Dee employs three different men to be his lieutenants, and they do much of the legwork for him. However, Dee is also very hands-on, going to the crime scenes and sometimes even going about in disguise. In some of the short stories here, he solves the mystery on his own. van Gulik has created a good detective in Dee; he is very, very smart, fair, compassionate to victims and stern with criminals. The cases are varied and interesting, and difficult to solve. I especially like the setting of ancient China. van Gulik really seems to know the era he is writing about, and he brings it alive through the actions and dialog of the story. There is no exposition here. If we need to know the differences of Taoism to Buddhism, we find out through a conversation of Dee with a monk or other character. That really makes the stories glide along.Read more ›
Robert Van Gulick's picture of Chinese life, crafted from his own extensive study of China, both underpins and overlays these elegant detective stories. Those inhabiting these stories are truly the inhabitants of the places: walking through the streets, eating at the restaurants, working in the Tribunal, and interacting with all classes of their highly stratified society.
The characters are well developed, from Judge Dee himself to his various colourful assistants and lieutenants, who do most (but not all) of the Tribunal's leg work. Criminals, victims, witnesses, and others along the way complete the fascinating tableaux.
There are references to the various Judge Dee novels at the beginning of each story providing a context within the magistrate's career. Numerous line drawings by the author gently illuminate the stories.
JUDGE DEE AT WORK was first published in 1967; seven of these eight stories are basically Fair-Play Puzzle stories (most of them very good, but not all of them); the remaining tale (the last one in this book) is a Feel-Good story with a fortunate outcome despite some unsuccessful "detection." I will deal briefly with each story in the order of appearance in the book.
"Five Auspicious Clouds" is a fairly good Puzzle story centered around the time of death of a murder victim.
"The Red Tape Murder" is interesting for its civilian vs. military context but is very implausible as far as both the means of the murder and the rapid death of the victim are concerned (SPOILER ALERT: an arrow lying on a floor is kicked with a bare foot upwards into the gut of the victim--who dies right away); further, this case is "solved" chiefly because of several lucky coincidences.
"He Came with the Rain" contains a simple Puzzle involving the murder of a pawn shop owner but is enjoyable for other factors: Judge Dee, along the way, learns about folk beliefs--and makes a decision about his future marital condition.
"The Murder on the Lotus Pond" (which has frequently been reprinted elsewhere) has only a so-so Puzzle about the murder of a poet.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My son gave me this book to read and I enjoyed it very much. Great mystery with a Chinese flair. If you are a mystery buff you will certainly enjoy this book.Published 1 month ago by Patricia B. Hiss
I enjoyed these detective stories with the partially fictional figure of the wise Judge Dee (based on a real Judge Dee but adapted by the author). Read morePublished 7 months ago by Dr Yael Koginsky
Judge Dee of this series is based off of an actual person, magistrate Dee Jen-djieh, from the Tang Dynasty of China. Read morePublished 9 months ago by G. Messersmith
Very interesting coverage of chinese culture of that era.Published 9 months ago by Richard B. Heagler
I really like this astute, down-to-business ancient Chinese judge. He has a mind like a steel trap; yet he has compassion and insight into human foibles and follies. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Virginia V. Simpson
All of the Judge Dee novels and short stories and really engaging. I highly recommend them to anyone who like historical novels, or exploring a cultural heritage decidedly... Read morePublished 14 months ago by S. Henley