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
vase if not to defend himself, sir?' 'Excellent!' the judge said with a pleased smile. 'Ha, that, of course, is what Hoo's villa opposite reminded me of! The Willow Pattern!' He pointed at the dozen or so pieces of porcelain which Tao Gan had neatly fitted together on the table top. They showed the picture of a villa on the waterside, lined by a row of willow trees. The upper storey had a narrow balcony. It had been a good antique piece, the blue design had been painted on in delicate brush
carried Judge Dee and his three lieutenants to the Yee mansion. The coroner and his assistant followed in a second chair. The fog had lifted to make place for a thin haze laden with humidity; the empty streets seemed to quiver in the hot air. It was Doctor Lew who opened the small door in the iron gate. He stared in consternation at the judge. 'I ... I had expected an officer of the municipality, my lord. I . . .' 'I decided to take the case myself,' Judge Dee told him curtly. 'Lead the way.'
leave this garden. Bluewhite will look after him when she comes back. Let's go!' While they were walking down the corridor, Yuan made a sweeping gesture and said: 'You can see that this was quite a nice residence, formerly. But the owner moved uptown, many years ago. Some squatters settled down here, but they left because the house was haunted, they said.' He shrugged his narrow shoulders. 'Never met a ghost here myself yet. The hall is fine for Coral's dancing, and her sister practises sword
of the gallery. I proposed to play and sing for him first, but he would have none of that. He said with a smile that I needn't be afraid, he just wanted to see me dance for the last time, that was all. 'I undressed and stepped out into the gallery. Yee was sitting at the table, in his armchair. I saw that he had moved the couch from the wall to the centre of the portico. Evidently he intended to tease Hoo again by making me dance on that couch, so that Hoo could see me from his balcony. And
assistant the true story of the Willow Pattern, you were evidently labouring under a strong emotion. You told it as if it happened to you yourself instead of to your great-grandfather, and a hundred years ago. Admittedly it is a pathetic tale. But you must have heard it told and retold uncounted times in the family circle. Why should this old tale of bygone days disturb you so? I suspected that you too had once redeemed a courtesan, probably sacrificing the last portion of your family fortune,