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The Ingenious Judge Dee
 
 

The Ingenious Judge Dee [Kindle Edition]

Hock Tjoa
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

A double homicide, a "reluctant" corpse, a bride poisoned on her wedding night--all taking place in a small county, one of fifteen hundred in Tang dynasty China, and all demanding investigation and judicial response within a month!

Judge Dee deals with these cases with his usual investigators and with his customary aplomb, even though he is himself under investigation by an Imperial Censor. He is unorthodox in his choice of investigators (former bandits and a female ex-cat burglar) and one of his suspects is a voluptuous woman who alleges harassment on the part of the authorities. He may also have stepped on some toes of the local gentry.

What is an upright civil servant to do?

About the Author

Hock G. Tjoa was born in Singapore to Chinese parents. He studied history at Brandeis and Harvard and taught European history and Asian political thought at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur. He has published George Henry Lewes, a Victorian Mind, "The social and political ideas of Tan Cheng Lock" (in Melaka: The Transformation of a Malay Capital) and various articles in the Newsletter of the China History Forum. He is married and lives with his family in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California. In 2010, he published The Battle of Chibi, selections translated from "The Romance of the Three Kingdoms" (one of four traditional Chinese classics). In 2011, he adapted Lao She's "Tea House," Mandarin original dated 1953, publishing it as Heaven is High and the Emperor Far Away, a Play. Most recently he published The Chinese Spymaster which he hopes will eventually be the first in a series of three spy novels.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 735 KB
  • Print Length: 92 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00GOZ89QC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #62,028 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun "whodunnit" set in ancient China 21 Aug 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
This was fun, and different. Like Agatha Christie, without the flowery prose. Set in China, in the seventh century. The cast of characters is large, but not too large. Three concurrent cases command the judge's attention, and while it was sometimes hard to separate the facts of each case, it was not insurmountable. The dialogue is clean, and while not completely natural, is very appropriate for a play.

It was an entertaining play, designed to bring a smile to your face. Judge Dee, the judge, investigator, and prosecutor all rolled into one figure, clearly has a blast as he pronounces on his cases. He has enough respect and authority, even in imperial time China, to appoint unsavoury characters as his inspectors.

The only minor gripes are: Widow Lee is too similar in sound to Widow Bee, and some of the outcomes are implausible, i.e. I don't know of any combination of herbs in pre-medieval times (or even prior to the modern era) that can cause deafness and muteness in children while allowing all other body functions to be unharmed, and I don't know how snakes' venom can naturally be in large enough quantities and potency to cause what the play claims it causes (to say more would spoil the plot).

A great read. I enjoyed the facts at the end of the book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Judge Dee is "one smart mouse!" 28 Sep 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
First, let me say that I love plays. What makes a play great are the verbal interactions of the characters; in this work, the dialogue between the characters is highly complex and engaging. Since this is a play, you need to be prepared for stage directions in parentheses and fewer visual cues than one would normally find in a novel. Instead, the focus is on the mystery and the tracking down of evidence to solve the murders. Just about everybody is hiding something and the main character, Judge Dee, figures out all of their secrets.
If you are a lover of Sherlock Holmes, you will like this cultural twist on a shrewd investigator. Imagine Sherlock’s wit and powers of deduction re-created in a new set of cultural norms. That gives you the basic format for this piece of writing. Like Sherlock, Judge Dee uses unconventional means to arrive at truth and (ultimately) justice. The pacing of uncovering evidence leading to the resolution keeps you interested. I felt like the villains could be a little more resolute in hiding their crimes. But this situation could easily be true for ancient China and the cultural context. In all, Judge Dee is a unique character in his own right and worthy of a read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars This Piece Has Several Strengths 23 Jan 2014
By SCP
Format:Kindle Edition
I enjoyed this play and think its staging could be successful and entertaining. This piece has several strengths: a fascinating setting, often clever sleuthing, good dialog, and potentially strong character interactions. It could use some fine-tuning, and I imagine a few run-throughs with actors will help with that.

This play's setting should not be hidden in the theater notes - it is too important to our appreciation of the story. There's an easy fix: the bailiff could announce the year and location when he opens the courtroom for the first case.

We find out late - too late - that the Imperial Censor poses a real threat. When the Censor confronts Dee, we learn that Dee's unconventional actions and decisions threaten his career. However, by then the play is pretty much over and Dee is fine. Moving the confrontation to an earlier scene would heighten dramatic tension.

Play's title to the contrary, the first case is low on ingenuity. I was underwhelmed by how the team identifies a suspect and obtains a confession. I was more satisfied with sleuthing in the other two cases. However, I was confused by similarities in the second and third cases. When solved, the cases are different, but along the way, they have many details in common. As just a few examples, both involve mysterious deaths of family members at home. (And aren't some of the symptoms of illness similar also? Or am I royally confused about that?) There is a Widow Bee in one case, and another Widow called Lee in the other! One is old and one is young, so viewing actors will help with that; however most of my confusion occurs when Judge Dee's team discusses the cases, with other actors absent. Presentation of this as a radio play could magnify such confusions.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and fun to read 26 Aug 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
This was the first play I've read as a pleasure past-time and I have to say I liked it. I thought the characters were good and I was engaged by the plot and read the whole thing straight through because I wanted to know what happened.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Master-Mind Detective 15 Dec 2013
By susan rostan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Hock G. Tjoa’s play, The Ingenious Judge Dee, is an adaptation of Robert van Gulik’s detective stories set in Imperial China and featuring Judge Dee, a district magistrate. Tjoa faithfully portrays Judge Dee as a master-detective whose vigilance, curiosity, and effective supervision of his assistants results in his solving unrelated overlapping crimes.
Tjoa’s engaging dialogue, peppered with reflections on the morals and social graces of the traditional Chinese culture, reveals the thinking of an idealized magistrate, whose responsibilities include those of prosecutor and jury. The judge’s keen intellect and critical reasoning in solving crimes brought before him, as well as those he uncovers in random encounters, highlight his superior intellect and generous spirit toward the cross-section of Chinese society
Tjoa’s play emphasizes the content of conversations over the context in which they occur. Thus, the descriptions of the settings offer little visual information about the narrative being played out, providing the reader with few, if any visual clues. Interestingly, it is the direction taken in the judge’s thoughtful conversation and purposeful questioning and the instructions he gives his assistants that color the scenes, leaving the reader to imagine the particulars of each of the settings.
Engaged in three simultaneous crimes, each with its own background, Tjoa’s cast of characters are surprisingly easy to follow. By not revealing the criminal in the beginning and providing only the material germane to the plot, Tjoa keeps the reader’s attention focused, playfully anticipating what might happen next. It is a thoroughly enjoyable play!
Susan M. Rostan, author of Digging: Lifting the Memorable from Within the Unthinkable
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun "whodunnit" set in ancient China 20 Aug 2014
By Future Boy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
This was fun, and different. Like Agatha Christie, without the flowery prose. Set in China, in the seventh century. The cast of characters is large, but not too large. Three concurrent cases command the judge's attention, and while it was sometimes hard to separate the facts of each case, it was not insurmountable. The dialogue is clean, and while not completely natural, is very appropriate for a play.

It was an entertaining play, designed to bring a smile to your face. Judge Dee, the judge, investigator, and prosecutor all rolled into one figure,clearly has a blast as he pronounces on his cases. He has enough respect and authority, even in imperial time China, to appoint unsavoury characters as his inspectors.

The only minor gripes are: Widow Lee is too similar in sound to Widow Bee, and some of the outcomes are implausible, i.e. I don't know of any combination of herbs in pre-medieval times (or even prior to the modern era) that can cause deafness and muteness in children while allowing all other body functions to be unharmed, and I don't know how snakes' venom can naturally be in large enough quantities and potency to cause what the play claims it causes (to say more would spoil the plot).

A great read. I enjoyed the facts at the end of the book.
4.0 out of 5 stars Judge Dee is "one smart mouse!" 28 Sep 2014
By Huckleberry Flynn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
First, let me say that I love plays. What makes a play great are the verbal interactions of the characters; in this work, the dialogue between the characters is highly complex and engaging. Since this is a play, you need to be prepared for stage directions in parentheses and fewer visual cues than one would normally find in a novel. Instead, the focus is on the mystery and the tracking down of evidence to solve the murders. Just about everybody is hiding something and the main character, Judge Dee, figures out all of their secrets.
If you are a lover of Sherlock Holmes, you will like this cultural twist on a shrewd investigator. Imagine Sherlock’s wit and powers of deduction re-created in a new set of cultural norms. That gives you the basic format for this piece of writing. Like Sherlock, Judge Dee uses unconventional means to arrive at truth and (ultimately) justice. The pacing of uncovering evidence leading to the resolution keeps you interested. I felt like the villains could be a little more resolute in hiding their crimes. But this situation could easily be true for ancient China and the cultural context. In all, Judge Dee is a unique character in his own right and worthy of a read.
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed my reaquaintance with the Judge 12 Sep 2014
By graeme W - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was a fan of the Judge Dee stories years ago. He had disappeared into the ' been there read that' category of my paper back library. When Amazon suggested one of his books I thought ---Great, revisit is due. I enjoyed my reaquaintance with the Judge. VanGulick creates such a living picture of the Judge, his often quirky associates, and life in general of the Tang Dynasty. I am going to search my library to resurrect my other copies of his stories. Hahaha and if not found will certainly purchase more copies of his stories from Amazon.. well worth
Another Detective writer is Qiu Xiaolong who sets his stories in Shanghai 1990s. His protagonist is a poetry quoting cop. Throughout each story there are flash backs and quotes from ancient history which provide another insight into the fascinating past of China. Well worth investigating!!!
5.0 out of 5 stars Just like all the rest good story 23 Mar 2014
By Ralph A. Lanham - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Anything with Judge Dee is going to keep my interest. They are always interesting and it is written well and I like the way it all falls in to place at ther end.
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