Some of Bev's Favorite Quotes...

Attention All Challengers! here on the Block has been, shall we say, challenging since I got back from vacation. I cam back to work to no computer (not hooked up after our office move) and my laptop at home has gone on strike. It looks like the Check-in Posts for the Just the Facts & Mount TBR challenges will wind up happening at the end of July instead of the regularly scheduled mid-point. But they are coming. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Tuesday Night Bloggers: Travel to China and Travel in Time

This month the Tuesday Night Bloggers will be taking a look at Foreign Mysteries (non-US and non-UK)--either set in a foreign locale, translated works from authors outside, or, for the more adventurous, a comparison of books written by someone NOT from the locale in question to a work by someone from that country. We will also include stories from foreign authors who set their mysteries in familiar spots. This is another fairly wide-open topic, so feel free to stop by every Tuesday, have a cup of tea & a scone or two, and share your thoughts on foreign crime. Both Golden Age and more modern mysteries are welcome.

Here are this week's foreign correspondents:

Kate @ Cross Examining Crime: "The Suva Harbour Mystery (1941) by Frank Arthur"
JJ @ The Invisible Event: "Strangers in Strange Lands: When East Comes West..."
Brad @ Ah Sweet Mystery Blog: "
L’EXCROISSANCE: Deuxième Partie"
Moira @ Clothes in Books: "Death in Italy"
Neeru @ A Hot Cup of Pleasure: "1222 by Anne Holt"

Previous Travels:
Week One 
Week Two


This week I'm serving up a previous review of a book that not only travels to another country, but to another time as well.The Chinese Bell Murders by Robert Van Gulik was originally published in 1958 but is actually set in the China of about the 17th century. Van Gulik was a Dutch diplomat and a well-known authority on Chinese history and culture. He drew his plots, settings, and character-development from Chinese literature--particularly the popular detective novels of the period. The story tells us of the adventures and rulings of Judge Dee in the early days overseeing the tribunal of Poo-yang. When he takes over the tribunal, he finds that there is one case which his predecessor has left him. It involves the brutal rape and murder of the daughter of Butcher Hsai. Pure Jade was found in her room and her lover has been accused and all-but convicted by the previous judge. But when Judge Dee reads over the court records and examines the witnesses for himself, he feels that there is more to the story than meets the eye. While he and his assistants search for clues to the real murderer, he also finds himself faced with rumors that the monks who inhabit the Buddhist Temple of Boundless Mercy, run by an abbot by the name of "Spiritual Virtue," may not be as virtuous as they seem. Their temple appears to be far more prosperous than a Buddhist temple should be and there is doubt that the marvelous "cures" for barren women are really as other-worldy as reported. And finally, there is the case of the deranged elderly woman who has tried for years to get justice for wrongs done to her family by an influential man of business. Is there truth to her ravings or is she just truly insane?

I have to say that Van Gulik obviously know his stuff. He produces the China of the period with great detail and flair and I felt as though I were really in a tribunal of the time period. Full marks for historical detail and atmosphere as well as details on Chinese culture. He also is very adept at writing in what purports to be the style of the period (and I can well believe it). However, when I read this I also found that the style of the period was not to my liking. The assumptions of guilt and the phrasing of questions didn't sit will with me. I also wasn't real keen on the whole "beat a confession out of the guilty party" thing. Judge Dee is an interesting character and I did like the way he reasons--and doesn't accept everything at face value, but I don't think this is a series that I could read a whole lot of. [This has proved to be the case...I haven't read another one since 2011.]

1 comment:

neer said...

Hi Bev

here's my submission for this week:

1222 by Anne Holt