Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Necklace, a Calabash, and Judge Dee Solves the Mystery

Necklace and Calabash: A Judge Dee Mystery –by Robert van Gulik

144 pages
Footnotes/Endnotes: No
Illustrations: Yes (line drawings by author)
Suitable for eReaders: Yes
4 Stars

Judge Dee mysteries are based on an historical person in China, having lived from 630-700AD (Tang Dynasty). He earned fame both as a detective and as a great statesman.

My Sis sent me this book, and it's the first of his several books I've read. I'll probably read the others. Gulik was born in The Netherlands, and was quite a student of the Orient, so he was familiar with the culture, language, and customs. Van Gulik was a Dutch Diplomat.

The vocabulary is, at times, stilted, and sounds almost British, but the books were written in the 1950s and 1960s, probably in Dutch and then translated.

The book opens with Judge Dee arriving in a small town, and he wants nothing more than to have a few days of rest and relaxation, a chance to catch up on some fishing, etc., before his men catch up and they travel home. (His men are hunting) Instead, he is thrown into mystery upon arrival, first with a young man found brutally murdered, then the Emperor's favorite daughter, Third Princess who lives near by asks him to find a priceless necklace that was stolen, and gives him no clues, and all this while he is incognito as a Doctor.

A quick and enjoyable read, Necklace and Calabash is worth the time investment. Mr. van Gulik died in 1967, so there are no new books out there, but some are in electronic format, and most are available as used books. And, of course, there is always the library;-)

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