7 January 2010

Forgotten Books: THE CHINESE BELL MURDERS, Robert van Gulik

This week's contribution to Pattinase's Friday's Forgotten Books.

THE CHINESE BELL MURDERS (1958) introduces the great Judge Dee, a magistrate of the city of Poo-yang in ancient China. It was based on an eighteenth century Chinese detective novel that van Gulik had translated in 1949.

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.

I read this only about 4 years ago, and rated it at 4.5.

According to Wikipedia
, Chinese literature has a long tradition of detective stories and van Gulik was trying to write in that tradition.

The series (from Fantastic Fiction)
Dee Goong An (1949)
aka Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee
The Chinese Bell Murders (1958)
New Year's Eve in Lan-Fang (1958)
The Chinese Gold Murders (1959)
The Chinese Lake Murders (1960)
The Chinese Nail Murders (1961)
The Haunted Monastery (1961)
The Red Pavilion (1961)
The Chinese Maze Murders (1962)
The Lacquer Screen (1962)
The Emperor's Pearl (1963)
The Monkey and the Tiger (1965)
The Phantom of the Temple (1965)
The Willow Pattern (1965)
Murder in Canton (1966)
Judge Dee at Work: Eight Chinese detective stories (1967)
Necklace and Calabash (1967)
Poets and Murder (1968)
aka The Fox-Magic Murders

Judge Dee novels are relatively readily available still, even at Amazon.


Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - Thanks for sharing this book with us. I'm not familiar with the Judge Dee series, but your writeup has me interested! I'm going to have to look for these -

Kerrie said...

Thanks Margot, this is yet another of those series I have wanted to read more of, but just don't seem to have got around to.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Read a few of these once upon a time. Thanks, Kerrie.

Evan Lewis said...

Seems like these books were somewhat unusual for their time. Now it's tough to find a country or an era without a mystery series set in it.


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