The Red Pavilion by Robert Van Gulik

imageI am currently reading the detective novel The Red Pavilion by Robert Van Gulik, set in Poo Yang around the Tang Dynasty, It is based on the real character of Judge Dee (Ti Jen-chieh or Di Renjie), a magistrate and statesman of the Tang court, who lived roughly 630–700. The novel starts as Judge Dee, the magistrate of Poo-yang province and his assistant Lieutenant Ma Joong, are journeying back home through the Amusement Resort of Paradise Island, whose attractive exterior hides a corrupt hotbed of illicit Gambling, prostitution debauchery, Murder and many other illegal vices,

At Paradise Island he meets an assortment of dodgy characters including Magistrate Lo, Curio shop owner Wen Yuen and Autumn Moon, the most powerful and famous courtesan on the island, and then learns of the apparent suicide of a young man who was studying to pass the Imperial exams who died recently in suspicious circumstances on Paradise Island after getting romantically involved with Autumn Moon.

Judge Dee is immediately suspicious, so he and Ma Joong investigate to find out whether it was suicide or whether he was murdered, then a short time later Autumn Moon herself is also found dead. Judge Dee discovers that All the unfortunate events seem to centre round The Red Pavillion where Lucky courtesans carry on their illicit liaisons with their lucky lovers and also learns of a gruesome crime committed thirty years ago and gradually Gets drawn into a web of lies and sad stories in the world of the Beautiful Courtesans of Imperial China.

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