Cover image for The Chinese gold murders
The Chinese gold murders
Gulik, Robert Hans van, 1910-1967.
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ix, 214 pages : illustrations ; 18 cm.
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FICTION Adult Mass Market Paperback Central Closed Stacks
FICTION Adult Mass Market Paperback Central Closed Stacks

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Soon after taking up his first magisterial post in the godforsaken district of Peng-lai, Judge Dee must look into the murder of his predecessor. His job is complicated by the simultaneous disappearnce of his chief clerk and the new bride of a wealthy local shipowner.

"The China of old, in Mr. van Gulik's skilled hands, comes vividly alive
again."--Allen J. Hubin, New York Times Book Review

"If you have not yet discovered Judge Dee, I envy you that initial
pleasure . . . the discovery of a great detective story. For the
magistrate of Poo-yan belongs in that select group headed by Sherlock
Holmes."--Robert Kirsch, Los Angeles Times

Robert van Gulik (1910-67), a Dutch diplomat and an authority on Chinese
history and culture, drew his plots from the popular detective novels
that appeared in seventeenth-century China.

Author Notes

Robert H. Van Gulik was born in the Netherlands on August 9, 1910. He joined the Dutch Foreign Service in 1935. From 1942-1945, he was secretary for the Dutch mission to Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist government in Chongqing, China. During this time, he translated a number of Chinese texts including Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee (Dee Goong An). He proceeded to write sixteen of his own Judge Dee novels. His scholarly works included Siddham: An Essay on the History of Sanskrit Studies in China and Japan, Hayagriva: Horse Cult in Asia, and Sexual Life in Ancient China. He died on September 24, 1967.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Released back to back in 1958 and 1959, these are the first two outings in the author's multivolume Judge Dee mystery series. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



The Chinese Gold Murders A Judge Dee Detective Story First Chapter THREE OLD FRIENDS PART IN A COUNTRY PAVILION; A MAGISTRATE MEETS TWO HIGHWAYMEN ON THE ROAD Meeting and parting are constant in this inconstant world, Where joy and sadness alternate like night and day; Officials come and go, but justice and righteousness remain, And unchangeable remains forever the imperial way. Three men were silently sipping their wine on the top floor of the Pavilion of Joy and Sadness, overlooking the highway crossing outside the north gate of the imperial capital. Ever since people could remember, this old, three-storied restaurant, built on a pine-clad hillock, had been the traditional place where metropolitan officials were wont to see off their friends leaving for posts in the interior, and where they came again to bid them welcome when, their term of office completed, they returned to the capital. As indicated in the above-quoted poem engraved on its main gate, the pavilion derived its name from this double function. The sky was overcast, the spring rain was coming down in a dreary drizzle that looked as if it would never cease. Two workmen in the cemetery down at the back of the hillock had sought shelter under an old pine tree, huddling close together. The three friends had partaken of a simple noon meal; now the time of parting was drawing near. The difficult last moments had come, when one gropes in vain for the right words. All three were about thirty years old. Two wore the brocade caps of junior secre-taries; the third, whom they were seeing off, the black cap of a district magistrate. Secretary Liang put down his wine cup with a determined gesture. He said testily to the young magistrate, "It's the fact that it's so completely unnecessary that irks me most! You had the post of junior secretary in the Metropolitan Court of justice for the asking! Then you would have become a colleague of our friend Hou here, we could have continued our pleasant life together here in the capital, and you -- " Magistrate Dee had been tugging impatiently at his long, coalblack beard. Now he interrupted sharply. "We have been over this many times already, and I -- " He quickly caught himself up and went on with an apologetic smile, "I told you that I am sick and tired of studying criminal caseson paper!" "There is no need to leave the capital for that," Secretary Liang remarked. "Aren't there enough interesting cases here? 'What about that secretary of the Board of Finance, Wang Yuan-te his name is, I think, the fellow who murdered his clerk and absconded with thirty gold bars from the Treasury? Our friend's uncle Hou Kwang, secretary-general of the Board, asks the Court every day for news, isn't it, Hou?" The third man, who wore the insignia of a secretary of the Metropolitan Court, looked worried. He hesitated somewhat, then re plied, "We haven't got a single clue yet to that scoundrel's where abouts. It's an interesting case, Dee!" "As you know," Magistrate Dee said indifferently, "that case has the personal attention of the president of the Court himself All you and I have seen of it to date is a few routine documents copies! Paper, and more paper!" He reached for the pewter wine jug and refilled his cup. All were silent. After a pause Secretary Liang spoke. "You could at least have chosen a better district than Peng-lai, that dismal place of mist and rain, far away on the seacoast! Don't you know the weird stories they tell about that region since olden times? They say that on stormy nights the dead rise there fron their graves, and strange shapes flit about in the mist that blow in from the ocean. They even say that weretigers are still slinking about in the woods there. And to step in the shoes of a murdered man! Everyone in his senses would have refused that post if it were offered to him, but you even asked for it!" The young magistrate had hardly listened to him. Now he said eagerly, "Think of it, a mysterious murder to solve, right after on has arrived at one's post! To have an opportunity right away for getting rid of dry-as-dust theorizing and paper work! At last I'] be dealing with men, my friends, real, living men!" "Don't forget the dead man you'll have to deal with," Secretary Hou remarked dryly. "The investigator sent to Peng-lai reported that there was no clue to the murderer of the magistrate, nor to the criminal's motive. And I told you already that part of the file on that murder unaccountably disappeared from our Court's ai chives, didn't I?" "The implications of that fact," Secretary Liang added quickly, "you know as well as we! It means that the magistrate's murder ha ramifications here in the capital. Heaven knows what hornets' nest you are going to stir up, and what intrigues of high officials you'll get involved in! You have passed all the literary examinations witi honors; here in the capital you have a great future before you And you prefer to bury yourself in that lonely place, Peng-lai!" "I advise you, Dee," the third young official said earnestly, "to reconsider your decision. There is still time; you could easily plea a sudden indisposition and ask for ten days' sick leave. In the meantime they'll assign another man to that post. Do listen to me Dee. I am speaking to you as your friend" Magistrate Dee noticed the look of entreaty in his friend's eyes He felt deeply touched. He had known Hou only for a year ... The Chinese Gold Murders A Judge Dee Detective Story . Copyright © by Robert Van Gulik. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from The Chinese Gold Murders by Robert H. Van Gulik All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Map of Han-yuan
IntroductionDonald F. Lach
Dramatis Personae The Chinese Lake Murders