Long before Western writers had even conceived the idea of writing detective stories, the Chinese had developed a long tradition of literary works that chronicled the cases of important district magistrates. One of the most celebrated of these was Judge Dee, who lived in the seventh century.This book, written anonymously in the 18th century, interweaves three of Judge Dee's most baffling cases: a double murder among traveling merchants, the fatal poisoning of a bride on her wedding night, and the suspicious death of a shop keeper with a beautiful wife.The crimes take him up and down the great silk routes, into ancient graveyards where he consults the spirits of the dead, and through all levels of society, leading him to some brilliant detective work.More
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More Judge Dee Please!
Cross-Cultural, Complicated, Clever-- add Chinese!
The judge switched from case to case and they all seemed unrelated and insoluble, but in the end, although the crimes occurred over great distances at times, they seemed to all fit together into an intricate pattern. And the Chinese practically invented paranormal mysteries! They are full of dreams and ghosts and visions of the afterlife. The most wonderful thing about these books though is not just that the stories are great mysteries, the atmosphere is evoked so well and the characters so memorable, but that it is based on a real historical person and the real ancient Chinese entertainment form of detective stories. The explanation of how these stories are converted to suit Western tastes is fascinating. I read these books in paper before taking a Chinese History class and found that the information on ancient Chinese culture contained in the stories was great preparation for the class.
I liked the old guard who showed Judge Dee and his other officers to Turnip Pass.
I found it very moving that the rule at the time--which Judge Dee was prepared to follow--was that if a prisoner was tortured and turned out to be innocent, the judge and his officers were to be executed in the prisoner's place. I imagine corruption of justice occurred anyway among lesser officials but if you followed the rules, you would be very careful. I wish today's justice were as scrupulous.
I want more Judge Dee audio books on audio please. Their cross cultural background and atmosphere is even better than the stories themselves and is the sort of thing that narration immerses you in even more completely than the written word.
- Stefan Perkowski