The Willow Pattern: A Judge Dee Mystery (Judge Dee Mystery Series)
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Judge Dee has been appointed emergency governor of the plague- and drought-ridden Imperial City. As his guards help the city fend off a popular uprising, an aristocrat from one of the oldest families in China suffers an "accident" in a deserted mansion.
In The Willow Pattern, the illustrious judge uses his trademark expertise to unravel the mysteries of the nobleman, a shattered vase, and a dead bondmaid. Along the way he encounters a woman who fights with loaded sleeves, a nearly drowned courtesan, and an elaborate trap set for a murderer. Packed with suspense, violence, and romance, The Willow Pattern won’t disappoint Judge Dee’s legions of loyal fans.
"The China of old, in Mr. van Gulik’s skilled hands, comes vividly alive again."—Allen J. Hubin, New York Times Book Review
RECEIVES MRS MEI That is very thoughtful of you, sir. A cousin of my husband is staying there, and he must take charge as soon as possible. Unfortunately my husband's two sons by his first wife died young, so there is no direct heir. . . .' Tao Gan came back with an elderly gentleman dressed sedately in black. "The four clerks have gone down to the main gate, sir,' Tao Gan announced. 'They will order a military sedan chair for Mrs Mei.' The judge rose. 'I apologize for being unable to provide
of this wall was a row of pillars, lacquered red. In the middle, behind the table where the dead man was lying, four bay windows formed a kind of portico. The windows, broad and low, were covered by bamboo roll curtains. The wall on Judge Dee's side had a wainscoting of dark wood. Further along, opposite the table, was a narrow platform, raised about one foot above the floor. The judge thought it might have been used for an orchestra, although that seemed singularly out of place in an archers'
to the burning of the corpses, we have had to cut down the patrols of the nightwatch. And most of the wealthy families were in such a hurry to leave the city that they didn't take measures for having the empty premises properly guarded.' Tao Gan pursed his lips. He said: 'Moreover, those who remained have sent most of their servants away, retaining only a skeleton staff. A thief's paradise, this city is! Yet no robbers seem to take advantage of the situation, fortunately.' 'Let's not be
mountain plain, thirty miles from the capital. There a temporary city of tents and barracks had been constructed, and this was now the administrative centre of the huge Chinese empire. The capital, its teeming population reduced to two-thirds of the normal figure, had become an island, as it were, isolated by the Black Death that walked its streets. It was left to Judge Dee to see this city of fear through the present emergency. In Judge Dee's improvised headquarters scores of clerks and
Governor's palace. I had already had such a terrible fright, tonight. ... I was just getting my spirits back, and singing a little song, when those two horrible scavengers . . .' 'You should be more careful,' the other said softly. 'That's a bad bruise there on your left breast.' She quickly pulled her jacket close. 'It . . . it's nothing,' she stammered. 'We shall put some ointment on it. I'll look after you, my dear. You are very young, aren't you? About sixteen, I guess?' She nodded.