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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.
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.
Is it the best crime fiction I have ever read? Well no but it does have some interesting characters and good stories. Plus for me I get a little insight into the Tang Dynasty and how people lived. But if you like historical mysteries then these 8 short stories are just the ticket. Also it was fun trying to solve the murder (yes each story has a murder) but unfortunately sometimes you have to wait until the end of the story have Judge Dee explain it to you as there are not enough clues given throughout the story to solve the case - but again it was fun to try.
The stories follow a similar pattern, a crime is committed and the reader then follows Judge Dee and his assistants as they discover how it was done and by whom. This is light and pleasurable reading. You will not be held in breathtaking suspense, but you will find yourself listening in on intriguing conversations.
This was my first read of a Judge Dee book but I plan on reading others.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I became interested in the judge after seeing Phantom of the Monastary on PBS. The film doesn't do him justice.Published 2 months ago by Carnifex
I enjoyed this book because it gives one a view into customs and mores of a China of long ago and combines it with unusual crime mysteries solved by "reason. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Richard S. Hawley
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 8 months 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 13 months ago by Dr Yael Koginsky
Very interesting coverage of chinese culture of that era.Published 16 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 20 months ago by Virginia V. Simpson