Robert van Gulik
An interesting mileau bring color and charm to this methodical, mannered investigation, despite rather stereotypical characters.
Reviewed by David on June 01, 2003
Genre: Mystery (Police Procedural, Historical, China)
Synopsis: This is an unabridged recording of The Red Pavilion.
During the Tang dynasty, over a thousand years ago, much of China was ruled by well-developed beauracrocy, staffed with scholarly officials who passed tough civil examinations. Nonetheless, despite the organization and booming trade, the country still had plenty of poverty and crime.
And thus much occupation for a district magistrate Judge Dee, well-known for his ability to investigate crimes. When Judge Dee stops at Paradise Island, a city well-known for its gambling, prostitution and other entertainment, he expects to spend no more than a day or so on his way home.
However, a mysterious death by a prominent academician forces him to assume his duties and investigate the occurence. Additional crimes and rumors of dark deeds complicate the investigation, as does the ominous history of the Red Pavilion, where the Judge lodges.
Full Review: This is a very classical detective mystery, with an intellectual, aloof and methodical Dee using the services of his more approachable assistant to do the physical exploration, as well as provide emotional entanglements for the reader.
The investigation is enhanced by the color and manners of Tang China, and the culture of elaborate entertainment provided by the highy trained call girls.
Most of characters arte lightly sketched, and provide little emotional intensity, but the humor and color surrounding this locked-room mystery provide plenty of entertainment.
Overall: 6; Plot: 6.5; Characters: 5; Style: 6; World-building: 6; Originality: 7;
Copyright date 1961, Recorded Books, 1985, Audio cassette, 4 cassettesOrder from: Recorded Books