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An eclipse is coming

Cover of Jade Dragon Mountain
A review of Jade Dragon Mountain by Elsa Hart

Jade Dragon Mountain is a classic manor mystery set in 18th century China. Playing the role of Poirot (or Nero Wolfe or Ellery Queen, you can make your reference of choice) is Li Du. Li Du is a librarian who was exiled from the Imperial City and has spent the last five years traveling on his own throughout China. His recent travels have brought him to southern China (near the Tibetan border) and he has to seek permission from the local magistrate to travel within the district.

Magistrate Tulishen is a cousin and Li Du isn't thrilled that he has to see his family member after all these years, a feeling that is entirely mutual. On a good day Tulishen would want to avoid contact with his disgraced cousin, but with the imminent arrival of the Emperor himself in Dayan, Li Du's timing couldn't be worse. He reluctantly agrees to allow Li Du to spend the night, but wants him gone by morning, which is fine with Li Du. Unfortunately the death of a Jesuit priest in the manor that night changes everything. Though Li Du would rather be on his way, he can't let the murder of the priest go unresolved. As Li Du begins to investigate he finds that everyone in the household has secrets and reason, perhaps, to kill the priest.

This was a lovely, engrossing, interesting read. Hart does well with her recreation of 18th-century China and seeds the book with enough real history to make me feel like I was learning as I read. Always a bonus for me. Can't wait to read the next in the series, The White Mirror.

Aug 14, 2023