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The Red Pavilion by Robert van Gulik
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The Red Pavilion (1961)

by Robert van Gulik

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
VanGulik's detective is sensitive and sensuous - and he always finds the truth no matter how difficult. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
Predictable, but a great read nonetheless. ( )
  AshuritaLove | Apr 7, 2013 |
Judge Dee stops off on the way back from the capital in Paradise Island, a resort town where fleecing the customer through gambling, prostitution, and drink is the main industry. Judge Dee is too upright for any of that, but his friend Magistrate Lo convinces him to stay an extra day to wrap up a routine suicide case. Dee is then confronted by three unexplained deaths over a period of 30 years in the same locked room, the Red Pavilion, the hotel room he is staying in. Science fiction writers can learn much from van Gulik who subtly fills you in on all the alien details of this distant time and place. Conrad is probably the winner when it comes to writing in English as a second language, but van Gulik holds his own. (Like Necklace and Calabash, the influence of Chandler can be seen, particularly in the great supporting characters of the Crab and the Shrimp.) ( )
  rameau | Sep 29, 2011 |
This Judge Dee mystery falls right in the middle of Van Gulik's canon, both from the chronology of Judge Dee's career and in the order of books written. Judge Dee is fully developed as a protagonist and at his most observant as a detective. However, only one of his retainers is with him in this book, the former robber and now his lieutenant MA Joong. A new reader of the Judge Dee mysteries might want to start with one of the earlier books to become familiar with Judge Dee and his world.

In The Red Pavilion Judge Dee is traveling back to his home province and breaks his journey on Paradise Island, a sort of medieval Chinese Las Vegas where every pleasure, from gambling to epicurean dinners to pleasures of the flesh, can be had for the right amount of money. Dee is roped into becoming a temporary magistrate of the court when his colleague, Magistrate LO Kwan-Choong, has to leave his province for a personal "emergency." He asks Dee to formally certify the suicide of a prominent scholar, merely a rubber-stamp case which just needs official verification at the next session of the court.

As in all of Dee's mysteries, this one innocuous case leads to an investigation and Dee ends up investigating not only the scholar's death, but also the death of the premier courtesan of Pleasure Island. Both deaths are linked to a murder committed thirty years ago. Using his vast knowledge of human nature and of the law, Dee is able to untangle the mysteries of the Red Pavilion where all three deaths occurred. While he gathers information from the upperclass residents and visitors to Paradise Island, his lieutenant frequents the gambling halls and brothels to get the street version of the three deaths.

The enjoyment of a Judge Dee mystery is not just in the puzzles which never fail to please, but also in the details of life in China during the seventh century. Van Gulik, a China scholar, goes into minute detail about everything from the different styles of beards worn by men to the execution of the swift and harsh justice of the courts. He sketches intricate maps of the locales, and includes illustrations of the characters in the style of the period. (A woman can be portrayed naked as long as her feet are not exposed. That would make the picture indecent, if not pornographic.)

Another very satisfying glimpse in the career of Judge Dee. ( )
1 vote Liz1564 | Dec 11, 2010 |
Top rate Robert Van Gulik. ( )
  jadebird | Jan 13, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gulik, Robert vanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ellis, ToniCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lindlof, EdCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"With the Festival of the Dead going on, sir, this is our busiest month in summer," the portly innkeeper said.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0226848736, Paperback)

A chance encounter with Autumn Moon, the most powerful courtesan on Paradise Island, leads Judge Dee to investigate three deaths. Although he finally teases the true story from a tangled history of passion and betrayal, Dee is saddened by the perversion, corruption, and waste of the world "of flowers and willows" that thrives on prostitution.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:28 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A chance encounter with Autumn Moon, the most powerful courtesan on Paradise Island, leads Judge Dee to investigate three deaths. Although he finally teases the true story from a tangled history of passion and betrayal, Dee is saddened by the perversion, corruption, and waste of the world "of flowers and willows" that thrives on prostitution.… (more)

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