The Chinese Bell Murders (Judge Dee Mysteries, Book 3)
Robert Van Gulik
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Meet Judge Dee, the detective lauded as the "Sherlock Holmes of ancient China"
Fans of Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series will thrill to this reissue of the first volume in Robert van Gulik's classic Chinese Murders series. The Chinese Bell Murders introduces the great Judge Dee, a magistrate of the city of Poo-yang in ancient China.
In the spirit of ancient Chinese detective novels, Judge Dee is challenged by three cases. First, he must solve the mysterious murder of Pure Jade, a young girl living on Half Moon Street. All the evidence points to the guilt of her lover, but Judge Dee has his doubts. Dee also solves the mystery of a deserted temple and that of a group of monks' terrific success with a cure for barren women.
sentence would have to be approved by the Metropolitan Court, and it takes weeks before my report would arrive there via the prefectural and provincial authorities. That would give the Buddhist clique ample time and opportunity to have the report suppressed, the case dismissed, and myself removed from office in disgrace. Now I would gladly risk my career and even my life, if I could see the faintest chance of succeeding in removing this cancerous growth from our society. It may very well be,
opportunity to learn about Wang's visits, to say nothing of his ability to perform acrobatics at the end of a strip of cloth! Thus there remained the low-class, habitual criminal.' Here the judge paused a moment. Then he continued in a bitter voice: 'Those despicable ruffians roam all through the town like hungry dogs. If in a dark alley they happen to meet a defenceless old man they knock him down and rob him of the few strings of copper cash he carries. If they see a woman walking alone they
his leap into the writing of atmospheric Chinese detective stories. Now it was no longer necessary to stick to precise historical facts and texts; accuracy of background and realistic portrayal of life in traditional China had become paramount. While using Judge Dee as a stock character, Van Gulik could draw freely upon the plots, stories, and data offered by the whole body of Chinese literature. And to these he could easily add fascinating and titillating embellishments from his own scholarly
simply but elegantly furnished. They sat down on chairs of carved ebony, and the steward served tea and Cantonese sweetmeats. The usual amenities were exchanged. Lin Fan spoke the northern language fluently, but with a marked Cantonese accent. While they were talking, Judge Dee unobtrusively surveyed his host. Lin Fan seemed about fifty years old. He had a long, lean face with a sparse moustache and a grey goatee. Judge Dee was particularly struck by Lin Fan's eyes; they had a queer, fixed
only First Wife. In the present novel the Buddhist clergy is placed in a very unfavourable light. In this respect also I followed Chinese tradition. The writers of ancient novels were mostly members of the literary class who as orthodox Confucianists had a prejudice against Buddhism. In many ancient Chinese crime stories the villain is a Buddhist monk. I also adopted the Chinese custom of beginning a crime novel with a brief introductory story where the main events of the novel itself are