(From the publisher):
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. These judges held a unique position. As "fathers to the people" they were at once judge and detective, responsible for all aspects of keeping the peace and for discovering, capturing and punishing criminals.
One of the most celebrated historical magistrates was Judge Dee, who lived in the seventh century A.D. This book, written in the eighteenth century by a person well versed in the Chinese legal code, chronicles three of Judge Dee's most celebrated cases, interwoven to form a novel. A double murder among traveling merchants, the fatal poisoning of a bride on her wedding night, an unsolved murder in a small town under Judge Dee's jurisdiction - these are the crimes. They take Judge Dee up and down the great silk routes, through clever disguises, into ancient graveyards where he consults the spirits of the dead, and through some clever deduction.
After translating Dee Goong An Van Gulik continued the adventures of Judge Dee in fiction he wrote himself. This, however, is the only place where you can find the originals of Judge Dee, the venerable Sergeant Hoong, the lecherous Ma Joong, and the other members of Dee's detective force.
While the cases are superb for reading, they also show the Chinese system of law enforcement and legal proceedings (which are quite different from Western forms). Robert Van Gulik has provided a thorough introduction and appendix with much information on Chinese detective novels, the Chinese system of justice, and particularly relevant aspects of Chinese law that play a part in these stories.
Original title: 狄公案 (dÝ gōng Ón)
Alternative titles: Dee Goong An
Genre: Fiction→ Crime and Mystery→ Detective Story and Detectives→ Historical
Fiction→ Historical→ Asia→ China