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The Lacquer Screen: A Chinese Detective Story (Judge Dee Mystery) [Kindle Edition]

Robert van Gulik
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Early in his career, Judge Dee visits a senior magistrate who shows him a beautiful lacquer screen on which a scene of lovers has been mysteriously altered to show the man stabbing his lover. The magistrate fears he is losing his mind and will murder his own wife. Meanwhile, a banker has inexplicably killed himself, and a lovely lady has allowed Dee's lieutenant, Chiao Tai, to believe she is a courtesan. Dee and Chiao Tai go incognito among a gang of robbers to solve this mystery, and find the leader of the robbers is more honorable than the magistrate.

"One of the most satisfyingly devious of the Judge Dee novels, with unusual historical richness in its portrayal of the China of the T'ang dynasty."-—New York Times Book Review

"Even Judge Dee is baffled by Robert van Gulik's new mysteries in The Lacquer Screen. Disguised as a petty crook, he spends a couple of precarious days in the headquarters of the underworld, hobnobbing with the robber king. Dee's lively thieving friends furnish some vital clues to this strange and fascinating jigsaw."-—The Spectator

"So scrupulously in the classic Chinese manner yet so nicely equipped with everything to satisfy the modern reader."-—New York Times

Robert Van Gulik (1910-67) was a Dutch diplomat and an authority on Chinese history and culture. He drew his plots from the whole body of Chinese literature, especially from the popular detective novels that first appeared in the seventeenth century.


Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Robert Van Gulik (1910-67) was a Dutch diplomat and an authority on Chinese history and culture. He drew his plots from the whole body of Chinese literature, especially from the popular detective novels that first appeared in the seventeenth century.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1103 KB
  • Print Length: 180 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1st edition (November 15, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004HO5M7Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #166,937 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clever mystery in ancient China May 31, 2008
Format:Paperback
This novel, written by the author both in English and in Dutch ("Het Chinese Lakscherm") is part of the second series of mystery books featuring Judge Dee as the sleuth. These novels are a bit shorter and a bit "lighter" than the first series of five books (which starts with "The Chinese Maze Murders", or "Labyrinth in Lan-Fang"). Once again Judge Dee solves three unrelated mysteries, using his skills of observation and logical thinking, employing casual conversations with various protagonists as his main approach. In this episode, a nice twist is provided by the fact that Judge Dee is visiting a neighbouring district where his counterpart, Judge Teng, ask him for help: he has become both the victim and the main suspect of a crime! How this can be, and how the plot is developed towards an elegant surprise finish, reveals Van Gulik's skills as a writer. This novel makes great bedtime or vacation reading!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Highly enjoyable triple mystery January 23, 2014
Format:Paperback
Renowned orientalist and former Netherlands Ambassador to Japan Robert van Gulik has now published quite a few Judge Dee novels. Judge Dee was an historical person who lived from 630-700 AD and served as a magistrate (as in these novels) and later in the central government of the Tang Dynasty in China. Van Gulik includes further information in his Postscript which I recommend reading first -- especially if this is your 1st Judge Dee book. It was my 3rd and I like them more and more. Strangely, there is no obvious copyright date--though the Postscript is dated 30 December 1961.

These novels take place earlier than Ingrid J. Parker's Sugawara Akitada series which takes place in perhaps 11th century Japan but they are similar to them to a certain extent--relying more on logic and atmosphere than on a lot of action--thus, they are, IMHO, true mysteries--something like Doyle's Sherlock Holmes or Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe as opposed to Laura Joh Rowland's Sano Ichiro series (around 1700 AD in Japan) which is more action-adventure incorporating some mystery. Also, van Gulik's works explain the ancient Chinese judicial methods -- rather different than our modern ones. I find these works, especially this one, to be quite satisfying and enjoyable, and look forward to reading many more.

Despite the differences in culture, there are similarities to modernity: logic is, after all, logic. There's a bit of scientific thinking in this book, e.g. p. 21: "Once he had established his theory, he adapted every new fact to it, instead of testing whether these new facts should not make him revise his theory."
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5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining read! January 2, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I first read one of the Judge Dee mysteries when I was in high school and remembered how much I liked them so I was very happy that I could find all of them on Amazon since they had gone out of print. I spent many enjoyable hours reading all of them.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A mind boggling Chinese whodunit September 18, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In the first Judge Dee novel, The Chinese Gold Murders, the judge performs brilliantly on his first magistrate posting to Peng-lai. In this book, he's on a well deserved holiday accompanied only by his burly lieutenant Chaio Tai. They're in Wei-Ping, looking forward to seeing the many historical sights in this area. But after a courtesy call to the local magistrate Teng, Dee finds himself irresistibly tempted to do some investigating.

He finds Teng disoriented and distressed, and it transpires that his beautiful adored wife has been murdered. Judge Dee is also intrigued by the suspicious suicide of a rich silk merchant.

The most fun aspect of the plot is that Dee and Chiao Tai find a way to infiltrate the local underworld. They share bad wine and filthy quarters with the local beggars and vagabonds, and Dee picks up all sorts of useful information about the criminal class that will serve him well in his future career.

There are twists upon twists in the plot, plus a number of illicit love affairs. The murderous intrigues and robbery schemes are especially imaginative and devious, mostly inspired by incidents in ancient Chinese annals of crime.

The scholarship of Robert Van Guilik is as always impeccable. Van Guilik was fascinated by the erotic history of imperial China, as well as its justice system, and his interest in art, poetry and erotica serve him well in this novel.

Every one of the Judge Dee mysteries is a gem. I'd suggest reading them in order. There's a wonderful chronology of the series in Janwillem van de Wetering's excellent biography of Van Guilik.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Lacquer Screen A judge Dee Mystery. August 24, 2013
By Colleen
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is one of the later stories in the Judge Dee mysteries. He was an actual personage in Ancient China, he served as
a Magistrate/Judge, which isn't just being a Judge, you also have to solve the crime. He had several helpers who gathered
information for him, but his brilliant mind always found the solution!
Most interesting thing about the series is, that not only was Magistrate
Dee an actual person, now called the 'Sherlock Holmes of Ancient China', but he became very important in the government after serving as a Magistrate for many years.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing July 28, 2013
By Jessica
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Just when I think this series is getting to be repetitive, the Judge is put in a fresh new situation and solves it in a fresh new way. These books are absolute gems and this is one of the best of them!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Most people have never heard about the Judge Dee Mystery ...
Most people have never heard about the Judge Dee Mystery Series by Robert van Gulik. All the books are based in another land, in another era, yet capture your imagine and hold it... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Edward Shepherd, Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A great read
Published 4 months ago by robert boyed
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Another great book.
Published 5 months ago by Seth Hughes
5.0 out of 5 stars Mystery excellence
An interesting story tangled and confused by ulterior motives.
Published 5 months ago by Lynn
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book!
Amazing book, very well written. Would reccomend to anyone. Love Judge Dee and started picking up Robert.Van Guliks after i watched the movie. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Pen Name
5.0 out of 5 stars Love Judge Dee
Any story involving Judge Dee is fascinating. It is amazing how he makes his decisions and determines the guilt regarding the "bad guy/girl". Well, isn't it obvious.
Published 18 months ago by Brenda Babcock
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Judge Dee
A great book about Judge Dee during his early service. Start with The Lacquer Screen for good basis of the Judge Dee series.
Published 21 months ago by J-6
3.0 out of 5 stars Some OCR mistakes
The editors should have proofread one more time. OCR text conversion errors make one stretch to substitute what Van Gulik must have written but no worse than iPhone text message... Read more
Published 22 months ago by David McArthur
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