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Tres cuentos chinos reune los tres primeros casos del juez Di, que se desarrollan en Fu Lai, un distrito acerca del cual circulan macabras historias de fantasmas. Di se enfrenta a tres enigmaticos asuntos en los que la crueldad, la perfidia y la brutalidad se muestran en toda su crudeza, y sobre los que solo una mente aguda como la del joven juez puede arrojar alguna luz. Tres cuentos chinos reune los tres primeros casos del juez Di, que se desarrollan en Fu Lai, un distrito acerca del cual circulan macabras historias de fantasmas. Di se enfrenta a tres enigmaticos asuntos en los que la crueldad, la perfidia y la brutalidad se muestran en toda su crudeza, y sobre los que solo una mente aguda como la del joven juez puede arrojar alguna luz. Un magistrado asesinado, la fantasmal desaparicion de una bella joven y la salvaje muerte de un escribiente protagonizan tres audaces tramas al mas clasico estilo de Conan Doyle. Sin duda, una de las mejores series detectivescas de todos los tiempos.


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Tres cuentos chinos reune los tres primeros casos del juez Di, que se desarrollan en Fu Lai, un distrito acerca del cual circulan macabras historias de fantasmas. Di se enfrenta a tres enigmaticos asuntos en los que la crueldad, la perfidia y la brutalidad se muestran en toda su crudeza, y sobre los que solo una mente aguda como la del joven juez puede arrojar alguna luz. Tres cuentos chinos reune los tres primeros casos del juez Di, que se desarrollan en Fu Lai, un distrito acerca del cual circulan macabras historias de fantasmas. Di se enfrenta a tres enigmaticos asuntos en los que la crueldad, la perfidia y la brutalidad se muestran en toda su crudeza, y sobre los que solo una mente aguda como la del joven juez puede arrojar alguna luz. Un magistrado asesinado, la fantasmal desaparicion de una bella joven y la salvaje muerte de un escribiente protagonizan tres audaces tramas al mas clasico estilo de Conan Doyle. Sin duda, una de las mejores series detectivescas de todos los tiempos.

30 review for Tres cuentos chinos

  1. 5 out of 5

    Henry Avila

    This first Judge Dee novel ( a historical figure, Di Renjie, A.D. 630-700, during the Tang Dynasty, who later became the powerful chancellor of the nation, at the Imperial Court) , is a translation of a 18th century Chinese detective book by Dutch scholar, Robert van Gulik written anonymously back then as now, this kind of product wasn't taken seriously............ The magistrate Judge Dee ( "father to the people") for three years in the small, rural , usually quiet city of Chang-ping, China, mo This first Judge Dee novel ( a historical figure, Di Renjie, A.D. 630-700, during the Tang Dynasty, who later became the powerful chancellor of the nation, at the Imperial Court) , is a translation of a 18th century Chinese detective book by Dutch scholar, Robert van Gulik written anonymously back then as now, this kind of product wasn't taken seriously............ The magistrate Judge Dee ( "father to the people") for three years in the small, rural , usually quiet city of Chang-ping, China, mostly routine business for the judge but becoming famous even in the nation's capital, for his great ability to solve crimes. With the help of four trusted Lieutenants Ma Joong and Chiao Tai, the muscles of the extremely able group, former hardened with a lot of experience in bad behavior plain common criminals, highwaymen,"brothers of the green woods"; Tao Gan an ex -confidence man he knows all the deceptive tricks he did them, reformed like the others by Dee and Sergeant Hoong Liang the brains an old, honest family retainer chief of the constables, he can speak frankly to his employer and give advise. Three baffling murder cases occur, at the same time, and the judge needs to bring the perpetrators to justice or his career will be in jeopardy , two silk merchants are slain their property stolen in a nearby village after leaving a hostel, no witnesses in the dawn, grisly, street crime and later one of the victims can't be identified, as the silk merchant seen... a complete stranger... the second case a healthy, young, poor shopkeeper of wool Mr. Bee Hsun dies of apparent natural causes a year before, but Dee discovers some interesting information, a sinister spirit at night haunts his lonely tomb he is suspicious of the beautiful, bright, widow Mrs. Bee, nee` Djou, after ordering an autopsy no foul play is found... he the wily judge is in trouble...the perplexed magistrate spends the night alone in a city temple meditating... falls asleep and obtains a clue from a weird dream... the third mystery a pretty teenage bride 19, on her wedding night succumbs, obviously by poison her ghastly face indicates this, Miss Lee from a prominent family as is the groom Hua Wen-djun , the distraught new husband is devastated, suspicions falls on Hoo Dso-bin a Candidate of Literature and classmate of the grieving widower, he had acted very inappropriately at the nuptial banquet...still the magistrate is not so sure, playing the fool is that the sane way for a murderer to behave.... Another fascinating voyage back into an ancient era the culture and traditions, that modern audiences can never quite fully understand yet will be intrigued by the partial lifting of the shadows , a terrific novel....Before ending this I must make a confession which might skew this entire review, I like to drink hot tea and eat cake just like the characters in these stories, while reading the delightful and unique Judge Dee mysteries, now that my conscience is cleared my friends I thank you for your indulgence.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    A detective novel by an anonymous 18th century Chinese author The Dutch diplomat, orientalist and author Robert van Gulik (1910-1967) translated Dee Goong An (Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee) into English and had it published in Tokyo in 1949. The original Chinese text was written some time in the 18th century and was published anonymously, hence it was written by a literatus/scholar who would have been embarrassed to have his peers know that he had composed such a work, since they generally view A detective novel by an anonymous 18th century Chinese author The Dutch diplomat, orientalist and author Robert van Gulik (1910-1967) translated Dee Goong An (Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee) into English and had it published in Tokyo in 1949. The original Chinese text was written some time in the 18th century and was published anonymously, hence it was written by a literatus/scholar who would have been embarrassed to have his peers know that he had composed such a work, since they generally viewed fiction as useless, even damaging to the proper mindset of the people. In an informative preface van Gulik tells us that the Chinese have a thousand year old tradition of detective stories which differs in significant ways from the one developed in the modern Occident, including such conventions as the announcement of the guilty early in the text and a detailed accounting of the condemned criminal's punishment - often even their subsequent punishment in Hell is related to satisfy the reader's sense of justice (and possibly other desires). Also, the supernatural is allowed to play a significant role in such stories. Van Gulik chose Dee Goong An because it most closely conformed with Western expectations of the genre. Nonetheless, the typical genre reader will likely be shocked and disappointed by this book. However, I am not reading this book as a representative of a well established Occidental genre but as an exemplar of a Chinese tradition. After reading wonderful classic Chinese poetry for years, recently I have been exploring classic Chinese prose, both fiction and nonfiction. And this text, though no masterpiece, is enjoyable and interesting. According to van Gulik, the central figures in the Chinese detective tradition are the district magistrates, powerful local administrators who along with their administrative duties must also serve as investigators and judges in local criminal cases. In this text the magistrate is Dee Jen-djieh (Di Renjie), who was a prominent magistrate and high official during the second half of the 7th century. Though the book was written a thousand years later, van Gulik informs us that the Chinese justice system had not changed, indeed, did not change until the early 20th century. Reading this book provides one with lively insight into a tradition of justice which was an important part of Chinese culture at least since the T'ang dynasty. In this tradition there is no conviction without a confession, and an often employed tool of this justice system was the beating and torture of suspects and recalcitrant witnesses, though van Gulik explains that there were checks built into the system which assured that extreme abuse of such means was minimized.(*) The story itself is excellent, with the intrepid Judge Dee solving four murders with the help of his loyal assistants and a few honest citizens. The settings are clearly evoked, the action is involving, and there is suspense even though one knows the culprits quite early on, because it is not at all clear how the Judge will overcome the ruses and resistance of the suspects. For, as powerful as he may be locally, there really are checks and balances in the system, both formal and informal, and the anonymous author makes them clear to us. At one point the Judge risks his own head in the face of these checks for the sake of justice. And, on the side, one learns no small amount about the lives of ordinary Chinese people. Entertaining and informative, but only for the strong of stomach! Van Gulik subsequently wrote a successful series of mysteries with the same Judge Dee as protagonist. I may have to look into that, because I have a weakness for mysteries set in foreign lands... (*) Remarkably, none of the instances of torture in this book produced information useful for the resolution of the cases. It's sole useful purpose was to force the most stubborn of criminals to confess to their crimes after overwhelming evidence against them had been accumulated. Was the author making a subversive point? Rating http://leopard.booklikes.com/post/796...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    Pat of my Summer 2018 Easy Reading Vibe – As a first Ive decided this year to aim for shorter or “light” reading to get me through the months where historically my reading has tailed off. A book i’d managed to track down & purchase a while ago & a perfect excuse to kick off my summer reading with a short teccie story or three (there are 3 stories according to the notes)...... well the beginning was quite bizarre as the Preface by the author went ON and ON and ON to a little over 40 pages in the e Pat of my Summer 2018 Easy Reading Vibe – As a first Ive decided this year to aim for shorter or “light” reading to get me through the months where historically my reading has tailed off. A book i’d managed to track down & purchase a while ago & a perfect excuse to kick off my summer reading with a short teccie story or three (there are 3 stories according to the notes)...... well the beginning was quite bizarre as the Preface by the author went ON and ON and ON to a little over 40 pages in the end..... where he even started to tell parts of the story that were to follow...... it had me thinking is the style of storytelling in the East? To give it all away at the beginning?? I stopped after 6 pages & jumped ahead to then find each chapter detailed out in note form..... I too skipped that & now at around 50 pages in looked desperately for a story........! Phew..... finally Judge Dee appears in the narrative & there’s dialogue..... we must be at the first story proper! The story “proper” is very simple, with extremely short dialogue scenes, populated by narrative where the characterisation of the players is really quite minimal & the story (the murders(s) to be solved) the main focus. It’s quite alright for a short summer read which isn’t overtly taxing. You’ll get very little historical detail here or dialogue & the stories are wrapped up quite neatly. For all the splendour (costume) you’ll have to watch one of the films..... I believe there are a few produced now..... as there is no historical fiction to speak off although a lot of time is spent on the use of torture & obtaining confessions in the age. The crimes/mysteries run within the same story so there’s not 3 tales per say & all are pursued by the judge in the same timeframe so there’s a little jumping about but all-in-all they fall into line. Nothing too taxing & perfect for an easy read, 3 stars for me as it does nothing wrong nor is it a series I will continue with. It’s very dated for sure having been first written (18th C) & translated in 1949

  4. 5 out of 5

    carol.

    One aspect of books and reading that I don’t often consider is the extent to which storytelling is a cultural form, often arising out of long-standing tradition. Modern American writing has such an emphasis on telling a good story as well as innovation in characterization and world-building that I forget about traditional forms. The manuscript of Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee is the product of an extensive tradition in Chinese detective storytelling. It was discovered by a Westerner in the 1900s One aspect of books and reading that I don’t often consider is the extent to which storytelling is a cultural form, often arising out of long-standing tradition. Modern American writing has such an emphasis on telling a good story as well as innovation in characterization and world-building that I forget about traditional forms. The manuscript of Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee is the product of an extensive tradition in Chinese detective storytelling. It was discovered by a Westerner in the 1900s, then translated and published again in 1949. In the translator’s Preface, Van Gulik discusses the background of Chinese detective fiction, transitioning into novel form in the 1600s and reaching their most sophisticated forms in the 18th and 19th centuries. Interestingly, although the author is clearly extremely literate and familiar with Chinese law, he remains anonymous due to the cultural consideration of the detective novel being a ‘frivolous’ form of literature. *********************************************** Since Goodreads hasn't clarified whether users should abide by the 2010 Terms of Service listed on site, or by Kara and Emily's comments in the Feedback Group threads, I'm keeping full copies of my reviews at: http://clsiewert.wordpress.com/2013/1... AND at Booklikes http://carols.booklikes.com/post/7394...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa Wu

    At the heart of this book is a story that involves a lot of bondage, torture, beating, sexual passion, near-nudity and paranormal phenomena. Yes, as with so many things, the Chinese did paranormal BDSM centuries before the current craze sweeping America. But, ironically, in this book the paranormal element is somewhat muted, which is the main reason Robert van Gulik thought it might be presentable in translation to Western readers. I try to learn something practical from every book I read. The thin At the heart of this book is a story that involves a lot of bondage, torture, beating, sexual passion, near-nudity and paranormal phenomena. Yes, as with so many things, the Chinese did paranormal BDSM centuries before the current craze sweeping America. But, ironically, in this book the paranormal element is somewhat muted, which is the main reason Robert van Gulik thought it might be presentable in translation to Western readers. I try to learn something practical from every book I read. The thing I learnt from this one is that it's very hard to translate the Chinese word "neiyi" (undergarment), because it's very unspecific even in Chinese. When the suspect is stripped of all her clothes and left in only an "undergarment", which happens on at least two separate occasions, I really want to know more. Which undergarment? Is it like a shift or is it only a pair of panties? Is it skimpy or conservative? Can you see through it? Most readers would not want to picture the poor wretch strapped nearly naked to a mechanical device so that she can be beaten and racked. But I'm an erotic novelist. My interest is professional and dispassionate. The end of the novel, which deals with the executions of all the wrongdoers, is much more explicit. But it's a case of too little too late. Because of the earlier omissions, I'm afraid the text only gets 3 stars from me.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tania

    3.5. This isn't actually the best place to start with the series, even though GR lists it as the first one. 3.5. This isn't actually the best place to start with the series, even though GR lists it as the first one.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    I'm giving this one 5 stars not because it's the most brilliant detective novel ever, though it is quite compelling and entertaining, but because it's an astounding early-eighteenth-century Chinese detective novel, quite "modern" in lots of ways, that was written more than a century before anything we could call a "detective story" in the West, e.g. Poe's Dupin stories or Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. Not only that, but, as translator Robert Hans Van Gulik tells us in his introduction, " I'm giving this one 5 stars not because it's the most brilliant detective novel ever, though it is quite compelling and entertaining, but because it's an astounding early-eighteenth-century Chinese detective novel, quite "modern" in lots of ways, that was written more than a century before anything we could call a "detective story" in the West, e.g. Poe's Dupin stories or Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. Not only that, but, as translator Robert Hans Van Gulik tells us in his introduction, "short stories about mysterious crimes and their solution have existed in China for over a thousand years, and master-detectives have been celebrated in the tales of the public story teller and in theatrical plays for many centuries. The longer Chinese detective novel started later, about 1600," a form that often ran to a hundred chapters or more in length. This one, the Dee Goong An,, has a pretty "normal" length for a novel of 230 pages or so, but it has significant differences from our typical detective novels. For instance, the detective is a district magistrate (as, apparently, was the case with all the classic Chinese detective novels) with wide-ranging powers, including the right to torture suspects in the courtroom at his discretion. Like Sherlock Holmes, Judge Dee doesn't give all the legwork to his lieutenants and constables but puts on disguises and investigates himself. Van Gulik, a sinologist who lived much of his life in China, translated this work in the 1940s, then went on to write his own fictional versions of Judge Dee mysteries, to the tune of fifteen or so books.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Yibbie

    If I had known that this book had such a wonderful postscript, I would have started there. It’s not that the story was hard to follow, but it explained so many little nuances that it would have been very helpful to have known at the beginning. I really enjoyed learning about Chinese jurisprudence and the traditional Chinese mystery story. I didn’t find this story as enjoyable as The Chinese Bell Murders and it was for the reason that Van Gulik suspected. The supernatural element was just too co If I had known that this book had such a wonderful postscript, I would have started there. It’s not that the story was hard to follow, but it explained so many little nuances that it would have been very helpful to have known at the beginning. I really enjoyed learning about Chinese jurisprudence and the traditional Chinese mystery story. I didn’t find this story as enjoyable as The Chinese Bell Murders and it was for the reason that Van Gulik suspected. The supernatural element was just too convenient to work well for a western audience. Then there was the whole we will torture a confession out of you at all costs. I appreciated it as a look at a completely different culture, but it was almost too grating on my Western sense of justice to be enjoyable. There were several curse words, an affair is at the heart of one mystery, and the ending is rather graphic.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    I first started reading the Judge Dee mysteries by Robert van Gulik (1910-1967) back in the 1990s. I discovered them in the Common Reader catalog (alas, no more). They looked different than what I had been reading - British mysteries - so I thought I would give them a try. Different? Definitely an understatement. Judge Dee was a real person - Di Renjie, Duke Wenhui of Liang, a Chinese official, statesman, and judge who lived from 630 to 700. Robert van Gulik came across an 18th century Chinese my I first started reading the Judge Dee mysteries by Robert van Gulik (1910-1967) back in the 1990s. I discovered them in the Common Reader catalog (alas, no more). They looked different than what I had been reading - British mysteries - so I thought I would give them a try. Different? Definitely an understatement. Judge Dee was a real person - Di Renjie, Duke Wenhui of Liang, a Chinese official, statesman, and judge who lived from 630 to 700. Robert van Gulik came across an 18th century Chinese mystery novel, "Dee Goong An," that was based on Di Renjie. Van Gulik translated the novel (and edited it for modern tastes) and published it as "Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee." The book was a success and van Gulik turned his hand to writing his own stories about Judge Dee. Though Judge Dee is from the 7th century, the setting is actually the Ming Dynasty (1300-1600). Of all the books in the series, this one is the roughest, probably because it was actually a translation and not really van Gulik's work. However, it is an excellent mystery and one I have read many times. There are three mysteries for Judge Dee to handle - a double murder involving traveling merchants, the death by poison of a bride on her wedding night, and the mysterious death of a man. Judge Dee is no armchair detective. He actively investigates crimes, even disguising himself. He is detective, forensic specialist, judge, and jury all rolled up in one. There are no lawyers in this society. Basically, it is up to the magistrate and he will be held accountable if he does something wrong. Dee does make mistakes. He has been known - quite often, really - to suspect an innocent person. However, he is cautious enough to Judge Dee is assisted in his work by Hoong Liang, sergeant over the constables, and his lieutenants: Ma Joong and Chiao Tai, best friends, and Tao Gan, cynical and sharp-tongued. Hoong Liang was a servant of Dee's family, and is his most trusted adviser. Ma Joong and Chiao Tai are part-warrior and part-rogue, and are my favorite supporting characters in all this. They met Dee when they tried to rob him. However, they were impressed by his bravery and bearing, and chose to serve him instead. Tao Gan is more of a trickster with a very low opinion of humanity. He was originally a swindler and a "runner" for a magistrate. He became so unpopular that he sought refuge with Judge Dee. Dee realized Tao Gan's usefulness and the man became a valued lieutenant. Judge Dee is appointed magistrate of Chang-Ping and holds a tribunal, where people come to present their grievances to him. The first case he is presented with involves the murder of the two merchants. Koong Wan-deh runs a hostel where the two travelers spend the night and then leave the following morning. Later, Koong is accused by the village warden of robbing and killing the men. The village warden has the men's corpses dragged to Koong's hostel and leaves them in front of the entrance. He demands 500 pieces of silver to hush up the crime. Panicking, Koong flees to Judge Dee's tribunal and presents his case. The second case involves the mysterious death of Bee Hsun, a merchant. Judge Dee comes across this case accidentally while investigating the previous one. In an attempt to get information on a suspect, he disguises himself as a doctor when he meets Mrs. Bee, Bee Hsun's mother, and learns of her son's mysterious death, not to mention the fact that his young daughter has become mute for an unknown reason. Bee Hsun's widow, Mrs. Djou (her maiden name - to keep from confusing her with her mother-in-law) is extremely arrogant and rude, even when she learns who Judge Dee really is. He immediately suspects foul play, but proving it is another matter. The third case involves another mysterious death, that of the young bride Lee-goo. The morning after the wedding, she is found dead, covered with blue spots and bleeding from "the seven apertures." Her widowed mother believes Lee-goo was murdered. Some young men who were "testing the newlyweds." This is a custom that involves accompanying the bride and groom to the bridal chamber, and engaging in all kinds of horseplay in an attempt to make the bride blush. They also make the groom drink a large number of toasts. One of the young men, Candidate Hoo, refuses to leave when asked by the groom's father and flies into a violent rage, saying that the old man would be sorry for this. Needless to say, suspicion falls on Hoo when the young bride is found dead, but is he really responsible? I really enjoyed this book, but if you want to start reading the Judge Dee mysteries, I recommend one of the later ones - "The Haunted Monastery," "The Chinese Maze Murders," "The Monkey and the Tiger," or the short story collection, "Judge Dee at Work." While "Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee" is good, they're more reader-friendly.

  10. 5 out of 5

    LG (A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions)

    In this book, Judge Dee handles three cases. In the first, two traveling silk merchants stay at a hostel and are later found murdered. The hostel owner is accused of robbing and killing them, although it's immediately clear to Judge Dee that there's more to the case than that. In the second, Judge Dee listens to an old woman's story about her son's death and her daughter-in-law's strange behavior in the period since then. He immediately suspects that the son was poisoned and that his wife had so In this book, Judge Dee handles three cases. In the first, two traveling silk merchants stay at a hostel and are later found murdered. The hostel owner is accused of robbing and killing them, although it's immediately clear to Judge Dee that there's more to the case than that. In the second, Judge Dee listens to an old woman's story about her son's death and her daughter-in-law's strange behavior in the period since then. He immediately suspects that the son was poisoned and that his wife had something to do with it. But can he get her to confess? The third case involves a beautiful young bride who may have been poisoned by a jealous scholar. Although van Gulik explained in his notes that, contrary to modern Western mystery readers' expectations, Judge Dee would be handling these cases simultaneously, I didn't initially understand what that meant. I figured that it would be like mystery novels where one mystery takes precedence but little ones crop up in the middle for a bit of variety. Or perhaps it would be more like a short story anthology, with each story stitched together with transitional scenes in which criminals were punished or Judge Dee got caught up on his paperwork. Instead, Judge Dee went hunting for clues/information about the double murder and accidentally stumbled across another mystery. He couldn't just ignore it, so he started investigating that one too. And, although a single symbolism-filled dream gave Judge Dee hints for all three cases, none of the cases were related in any way. It was definitely different from what I'm used to in my mystery reading, but not in a bad way. All right, backing up a bit: I originally bought this during a used book shopping trip because I remembered watching and enjoying Detective Dee and the Phantom Flame. It was way more action-packed than this book, and I don't recall the movie's Detective Dee ever torturing anyone the way Judge Dee did, but I might have blocked that out. Still, despite the differences, I'm glad the movie got me to try this book. While I probably would have found the mysteries interesting without van Gulik's notes, there are several aspects of the book that likely would have taken me aback without the context that he provided. The torture, for one thing, as well as the way some of the final sentencing was carried out. There was also a bit of an edutainment factor - van Gulik's analysis of the legal aspects of the book was fascinating, and I'm looking forward to eventually reading the original Judge Dee books he wrote after translating this book. I was somewhat worried that this would be a dry read, but thankfully that turned out not to be the case, and van Gulik's notes added another level to my enjoyment. Although this can't quite be read with the same expectations one might have for a modern Western mystery - it was a shock when, before even seeing the crime scene, Judge Dee had a warden beaten for the way he'd handled the investigation's initial steps, and I winced at the part where Judge Dee decided to forgo an autopsy on a poisoning victim because the victim's family was so scholarly and respectable - it wasn't as far outside modern mystery expectations as I thought it might be. There were even a few nice humorous bits here and there (or at least humorous to me). I got a kick out of the false name Judge Dee chose for himself at one point in the story, as well as Ma Joong (one of Judge Dee's lieutenants) excitement at getting to play the part of a thief. (Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Gouty

    The books by Robert Van Gulik have a very special place in my heart. In elementary school I borrowed one of his books from a neighbor, read the whole series, became fascinated with Chinese history and culture. This is one of the major influences that got me to major in Chinese language and literature. First a bit about the author. Robert H. Van Gulik was the Dutch ambassador to Japan before the war. When the war started he became the Dutch ambassador to China. He was an incredible scholar. The D The books by Robert Van Gulik have a very special place in my heart. In elementary school I borrowed one of his books from a neighbor, read the whole series, became fascinated with Chinese history and culture. This is one of the major influences that got me to major in Chinese language and literature. First a bit about the author. Robert H. Van Gulik was the Dutch ambassador to Japan before the war. When the war started he became the Dutch ambassador to China. He was an incredible scholar. The Dee Gong An takes a real Chinese magistrate Di Renjie who lived in the 7th century T’ang dynasty (600-900 C.E.), and has him solve a number of mysteries which are based off of traditional Chinese folk tales. This book’s format is Chinese in that the reader knows from the beginning whodunit, the pleasure is in how Dee solves it. Rather like Columbo. He later went on to write 15 other books still with Judge Dee but with a more traditional Western format of keeping the murderer secret untill the end. Judge Dee is helped by his assistants, Ma Jong (ex-highwayman, martial arts expert), Chaio Tai (ex-military, ex-highwayman), Tao Gan (ex-thief/conman), and Sgt. Hoong (majordomo/secretary). In all of the books it follows the traditional form of the Judge having to solve 3 (sometimes related, sometimes not) crimes. These books are a pure pleasure to read and offer a fantastic look into ancient China. I have had professors asign Judge Dee mysteries in various classes because they are very accurate and offer a fantastically detailed look into ancient China. I cannot recommend the Judge Dee Series enough. Here is a list of all the Judge Dee books and short stories in the order of Dee’s life: o The Chinese Gold Murders o The Lacquer Screen. o Five Auspicious Clouds, a short story in Judge Dee at Work o The Red Tape Murders, a short story in Judge Dee at Work o He came with the Rain, a short story in Judge Dee at Work o The Chinese Lake Murders o The Morning of the Monkey, a short story in The Monkey and the Tiger o The Murder on the Lotus Pond, a short story in Judge Dee at Work o The Haunted Monastery o The Chinese Bell Murders o The Two Beggers, a short story in Judge Dee at Work o The Wrong Sword, a short story in Judge Dee at Work o The Red Pavilion o The Emperor's Pearl o Poets and Murder o Necklace and Calabash o The Chinese Maze Murders o The Phantom of the Temple o The Coffins of the Emperor, a short story in Judge Dee at Work o Murder on New Year's Eve, a short story in Judge Dee at Work o The Chinese Nail Murders o The Night of the Tiger, a short story in The Monkey and the Tiger o The Willow Pattern o Murder in Canton Two books, Poets and Murder and Necklace and Calabash, were not listed in the chronology (which was published before these two books were written) but they were both from the time when Judge Dee was the magistrate in Poo-yang Sorry about the long review. -G

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    This was an 18th century Chinese detective novel. China has a long tradition of detective novels and they quite distinctive from western detective novels. The purpose of this particular translation was to introduce the Chinese detective novel genre to a Western audience. This particular book was picked by the translator and publisher because the plot is more Western than most. It was said to be one of the influences to Neal Stephenson's novel, the Diamond Age. The plot revolves around several int This was an 18th century Chinese detective novel. China has a long tradition of detective novels and they quite distinctive from western detective novels. The purpose of this particular translation was to introduce the Chinese detective novel genre to a Western audience. This particular book was picked by the translator and publisher because the plot is more Western than most. It was said to be one of the influences to Neal Stephenson's novel, the Diamond Age. The plot revolves around several interrelated crimes (murder and theft) which occurred around the same time. The local magistrate, Judge Dee, is responsible for solving the crimes and bringing the perpetrator to justice. At stake isn't just justice: it is the "face" of the town, the court, and the judge. If the judge does not solve the crime, not only does the criminal go free, but the entire town is disgraced. The judge eventually solves the crime with a combination of intelligence, keen insight, and moxie. At the end of the book, there is an excellent essay detailing the distinctive characteristics of Chinese detective stories: casual use of torture by authorities, supernatural elements/superstition, role archetypes for those assigned to assist the judge, intellectual chess matches between the judge and the criminals, and most striking: a presentation of a story from a Confucian world view. This book was very good, interesting, and entertaining. However, had I read the essay at the end of the book before the story, I would have enjoyed it even more.

  13. 5 out of 5

    B. Asma

    Set in the era of seventh-century A.D. and written in the eighteenth-century A.D., the book of Chinese detective stories is translated in modern times. Robert Van Gulik's lucid translation from Chinese feels contemporary and his changes to the original text are likewise clearly reasoned. Judge Dee is a "magistrate of Chang-ping". Three murders come before him and his lieutenants (some of whom are reformed shady characters and one of them is his lifelong servant). Altogether they use snooping and Set in the era of seventh-century A.D. and written in the eighteenth-century A.D., the book of Chinese detective stories is translated in modern times. Robert Van Gulik's lucid translation from Chinese feels contemporary and his changes to the original text are likewise clearly reasoned. Judge Dee is a "magistrate of Chang-ping". Three murders come before him and his lieutenants (some of whom are reformed shady characters and one of them is his lifelong servant). Altogether they use snooping and intuition and some intervention by ghosts to discover the true culprit. Erroneous accusations and torments would turn the tables on the Judge. The three cases involve a mysteriously dead bride on her wedding night, a double murder and some stolen raw silk, and a buried corpse whose death might not have been accidental. There are woodcut-like illustrations spaced through the story. The book exemplifies the genre of Chinese detective fiction. The Translator's Postscript includes some further reading in that genre.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Les Wilson

    As for me 5*+. If this is an example of the Chinese Detective, let's have more. I foe one would be only too happy to read them. What a shame they have been kept from us for so long. As for me 5*+. If this is an example of the Chinese Detective, let's have more. I foe one would be only too happy to read them. What a shame they have been kept from us for so long.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jack Massa

    Enjoyable as a mystery novel, but mostly interesting to me for all the knowledge it provides on daily life, society, government, and law in Tang China.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    The torture-them-until-they-confess spirit of the detection is not saying Christmas to me. Maybe at Easter.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nihal Vrana

    This was a wonderful reading experience. First hats off to Mr. van Gulik for all his efforts to make this work accessible to non-Chinese readers. He went well beyond translation and thought of a conceptual framework to make the story understandable and that's no small feat. Beyond that; the construction of the story (three unrelated crimes unfolding in a random manner) was very clever. The dry but fluent way the whole thing is written makes it very easy to read. The torture parts were a bit hard This was a wonderful reading experience. First hats off to Mr. van Gulik for all his efforts to make this work accessible to non-Chinese readers. He went well beyond translation and thought of a conceptual framework to make the story understandable and that's no small feat. Beyond that; the construction of the story (three unrelated crimes unfolding in a random manner) was very clever. The dry but fluent way the whole thing is written makes it very easy to read. The torture parts were a bit hard to take (but again the matter-of-factly way that they were described made me shiver; to me that's good writing) and I wouldn't want to live in a Chinese province in 7th century with a bad judge for sure. Unlike Mr. van Gulik, I liked the supernatural items in the story because they were so seamlessly put within the fabric of the setting. They were more like early attempts at pscyhoanalysis and subconscious pattern recognition than actual fantasy items. They were unintentionally hilarious parts too; for example getting leniency for being "extremely stupid" :) I'm not sure I would want that (well it still beats sitting on scorching metal chains...)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Karen GoatKeeper

    Judge Dee is the Chinese Sherlock Holmes. His exploits were written up in a Chinese novel in the eighteenth century and translated by Robert van Gulik. Chinese detective novels and penal codes are different and the introduction, although rather boring, is important reading for the reader wanting to more fully enjoy the novel itself. Judge Dee is presented a double murder case to solve. As he and his aides find clues and facts for this one, another death of a bride by poison comes into the tribunal Judge Dee is the Chinese Sherlock Holmes. His exploits were written up in a Chinese novel in the eighteenth century and translated by Robert van Gulik. Chinese detective novels and penal codes are different and the introduction, although rather boring, is important reading for the reader wanting to more fully enjoy the novel itself. Judge Dee is presented a double murder case to solve. As he and his aides find clues and facts for this one, another death of a bride by poison comes into the tribunal. As the Judge explores this case, he comes across what was certainly a murder although it was never brought before the tribunal. The clues are there. The solutions require logical deduction. Judge Dee delivers. This book is interesting with its different take on justice under Chinese law. It is in a more Western style in that the criminals are unknown until the cases are solved. Chinese detective novels do include the punishments for the criminals and these can be gruesome. Once the style is adjusted to, this book is a fast read. It is illustrated in the original woodcut style.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Graham

    CELEBRATED CASES OF JUDGE DEE is the English translation of a classic Chinese detective novel of the 18th century. Robert van Gulik came to the story during WW2 and his translation is obviously a labour of love; his lengthy introduction featured here is also thoroughly illuminating and engaging. The story itself is quite episodic, but the terse detective work and impassive character of Dee himself makes it an interesting experience; our hero has three separate murder cases to contend with and he CELEBRATED CASES OF JUDGE DEE is the English translation of a classic Chinese detective novel of the 18th century. Robert van Gulik came to the story during WW2 and his translation is obviously a labour of love; his lengthy introduction featured here is also thoroughly illuminating and engaging. The story itself is quite episodic, but the terse detective work and impassive character of Dee himself makes it an interesting experience; our hero has three separate murder cases to contend with and he handles them pretty much all at the same time, which gets complex at certain stages. Dee of course has become a legendary figure of Chinese mythology and films are still being made about him. As for Van Gulik, he would go on to craft his own series of Dee adventures, which I plan to check out given the time.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Petra Seidlová

    Guilty pleasure.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sebastian

    Looking for a different mystery? You have found it! I have read my fair share of mysteries, and even though I love the genre, sometimes I feel the need to look for something out of the norm. That is why I have explore mysteries in special locations or times. In one of these searches I came across this book and decided to give it a try. The first thing that struck me was the extensive introduction by the translator, Robert van Gulik. In this essay, he explains the characteristics of the typical Ch Looking for a different mystery? You have found it! I have read my fair share of mysteries, and even though I love the genre, sometimes I feel the need to look for something out of the norm. That is why I have explore mysteries in special locations or times. In one of these searches I came across this book and decided to give it a try. The first thing that struck me was the extensive introduction by the translator, Robert van Gulik. In this essay, he explains the characteristics of the typical Chinese mystery and points out how the one we are about to read is a blend of this type of book and the occidental mysteries we are used to reading. You can tell right away the passion van Gulik has for this work and it's particularities, and this passion led him to write a series based on this book using Judge Dee as the main character. The book takes us on a fascinating journey, in which we follow Judge Dee as he investigates and tries 3 different murders. This is one of the traits of Chinese mysteries, the judge is in charge of collecting evidence and evaluating it, finding the culprit, arrest the person, make him or her confess (very important step of the process) and deciding on the punishment as well as administering it. There is a fair amount of torture on the court too, which is used to reach the confession, and is really a shocking part of these stories, especially when the person being tortures may not be guilty. Overall, I found reading this book to be a pleasant and entertaining experience. The cultural elements at play were mesmerizing, and the only weak point was the minor appearance of supernatural elements. I cannot really overly fault the novel for this though, because in Chinese mysteries these supernatural elements play a more prominent role. I have to say that my interest was piqued and that after reading this anonymous work translated by van Gulik, I have decided to go look for the Judge Dee series the translator worked on, and which starts with The Chinese Maze Murders: A Judge Dee Mystery.

  22. 4 out of 5

    E. Kahn

    Reviewing this one is hard because it could be read as a modern mystery, as a proto-mystery written before the conventions of the genre were established, or as an 18th C Chinese novel completely divorced from the Western mystery genre, and each of these readings would deserve a different rating. I don't know how much of this is thanks to careful massaging by the translator (who acknowledges the Chinese books of the genre do not lend themselves to entertaining Western audiences due to wildly diffe Reviewing this one is hard because it could be read as a modern mystery, as a proto-mystery written before the conventions of the genre were established, or as an 18th C Chinese novel completely divorced from the Western mystery genre, and each of these readings would deserve a different rating. I don't know how much of this is thanks to careful massaging by the translator (who acknowledges the Chinese books of the genre do not lend themselves to entertaining Western audiences due to wildly different genre conventions) but the book certainly works as a midcentury pulp and is much better written than most of them. People who enjoy the prototypes of the modern detective story will probably enjoy it more, as they will be accustomed to ignoring the now-established conventions. And finally, as a Chinese historical novel the translator acknowledges he picked an atypical one that would be more easily enjoyed by a Western audience, Wikipedia informs me the translation includes only thirty-one of the sixty-five chapters in the original ("Four great strange cases of Empress Wu's reign") and I suspect the translation has taken certain liberties to make it more easily digestible to its intended audience. Overall it's a quick, entertaining read and now I want to get my hands on a "real" gong'an.

  23. 4 out of 5

    David

    Long before Jessica Fletcher opened up the Cabots Cove branch of the Pinkertons, the Chinese developed the detective novel to a high degree. But like pasta, gunpowder, and sea borne voyages of trade and conquest, they decided it was overrated and left it to the uncivilized monkey people of the European littoral. Back in WWII Robert van Gulik took a break from his war duties and translated a Chinese detective novel. It was the Dee Goong An, a fictionalized account of crimefighting by a historical Long before Jessica Fletcher opened up the Cabots Cove branch of the Pinkertons, the Chinese developed the detective novel to a high degree. But like pasta, gunpowder, and sea borne voyages of trade and conquest, they decided it was overrated and left it to the uncivilized monkey people of the European littoral. Back in WWII Robert van Gulik took a break from his war duties and translated a Chinese detective novel. It was the Dee Goong An, a fictionalized account of crimefighting by a historical jurist of 8th century China. Other than a predilection for tea, Judge Dee doesn’t have too much in common with Miss Marple. For one it’s his JOB to solve crimes. He is a District Magistrate, a post that combined detailed local oversight with high rank in T’ang China. For two he has a squad of cops and ex-cons to do his legwork. Not that Dee needs them, he is a man of most acute faculties. When all else fails he can also torture the bejeezus out of the prime suspect. http://fireandsword.com/Reviews/judge...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Manni

    I haven't read chinese detective stories before so it was a first. I don't regret reading it, it was interesting. For the details and story development. Example: swishing the sleeves and torture methods, ceremonial customs and time flow. Judge Di seemed a bit too admired and trusted but I guess it is the difference in cultures. I don't want to write spoilers so I won't write more. The only regret I have is that my copy of the book had a lot of editing problems, double words and spelling mistakes. Also I haven't read chinese detective stories before so it was a first. I don't regret reading it, it was interesting. For the details and story development. Example: swishing the sleeves and torture methods, ceremonial customs and time flow. Judge Di seemed a bit too admired and trusted but I guess it is the difference in cultures. I don't want to write spoilers so I won't write more. The only regret I have is that my copy of the book had a lot of editing problems, double words and spelling mistakes. Also, I would have liked to read a less edited version, in the matter of left out characters and names. I do understand they were left out for the purpose of making the reading easier and it did not take anything away from the book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Marianne

    I read all of the Judge Dee novels a long time ago. Just reread this one, and still liked it. These are translations of 19th century Chinese detective novels,about a 7th century magistrate who actually existed. The long section of 'translator's notes' are the most interesting part of the book - all about what Chinese detective novels are, how diffent they are from typical western mysteries, and how each is a reflection of the culture from which they come. Be warned that there is some description I read all of the Judge Dee novels a long time ago. Just reread this one, and still liked it. These are translations of 19th century Chinese detective novels,about a 7th century magistrate who actually existed. The long section of 'translator's notes' are the most interesting part of the book - all about what Chinese detective novels are, how diffent they are from typical western mysteries, and how each is a reflection of the culture from which they come. Be warned that there is some description of torture and execution techniques used by the tribunals - universal in this genre, and brief, but distasteful.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sylvester

    2.5* This book was a cultural experience as much as a detective story. The Judge has prophetic dreams that give him clues, he uses torture to get confessions out of criminals, and unlike our Western detective novels, the story does not end until all the gory details of the execution are told. It was interesting. I didn't find much "detecting" going on - not so much of a puzzle as I'm used to - however, I'm not sure that this particular book is indicative of the rest of the series. I read an exce 2.5* This book was a cultural experience as much as a detective story. The Judge has prophetic dreams that give him clues, he uses torture to get confessions out of criminals, and unlike our Western detective novels, the story does not end until all the gory details of the execution are told. It was interesting. I didn't find much "detecting" going on - not so much of a puzzle as I'm used to - however, I'm not sure that this particular book is indicative of the rest of the series. I read an excerpt from another of his books and found it quite engaging, and so will try again before I pass judgement.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ruth Shulman

    Judge Dee is one my favorite characters in detective literature. The neat thing is, he is also a real person: a Tang Dynasty magistrate who was famous for solving real murders (and other crimes.) Note: Though I am listing this one book just now, I have read the entire series. As delicious as a plate of superior Chinese food.

  28. 5 out of 5

    E. Craig McKay

    I came upon this book by chance and bought it on a whim. The approach to solving crimes reminded me somewhat of that employed in ancient Rome.It was an enjoyable read; quite a contrast to modern crime fiction or murder mystery.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Adam Lewis Schroeder

    Supremely satisfying. Martial arts. Horrific tortures as a legal means of gathering evidence. Impersonating underworld deities. The interweaving cases are great, though we don't learn much about Judge Dee himself except that he has both ninjas and doddering old men in his employ. Supremely satisfying. Martial arts. Horrific tortures as a legal means of gathering evidence. Impersonating underworld deities. The interweaving cases are great, though we don't learn much about Judge Dee himself except that he has both ninjas and doddering old men in his employ.

  30. 4 out of 5

    James

    The Chinese have a long tradition of detective novels, Van Gulik was one of the first translators of Judge Dee, both this one and the ones he created are great reads. Some libraries file these under Gulik, check both names.

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