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The Chinese Maze Murders (Judge Dee (Chronological order) #13)

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  570 ratings  ·  53 reviews
A.D. 670

Poisoned plums, a cryptic scroll picture, passionate love letters, and a hidden murderer with a penchant for torturing and killing women lead Judge Dee to the heart of the Governor’s garden maze and the answers to three interwoven mysteries. The Chinese Maze Murders represents Robert van Gulik’s first venture into writing suspense novels after the success of Dee G
Paperback, 321 pages
Published August 4th 1997 by University Of Chicago Press (first published 1956)
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Community Reviews

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Henry Avila
On the way, after a long, slow, dull journey to his new post, in Lan-fang, just over the next ridge, the astute magistrate, Judge Dee, from the Imperial capital, Chang'an (Xi'an), has four horse drawn carts , three wives, an unknown number of children, four trusted lieutenants, drivers, servants and ten highwaymen, who ambush the entourage, in a small valley, from the cover of a forest, below the hills of remote, northwestern China, on the border with barbarian hordes, who roam across the river....more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Feb 12, 2014 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Lovers of Historical Mysteries
I had read this before--decades ago as a teen and can't say even after reading it again I could say I remembered it--which is a point against it. It's a historical mystery set in China's Tang Dynasty around 700 AD and featuring Judge Dee. He's a historical figure with the kind of legendary reputation of a Sherlock Holmes as a detective. The plot is clever that way--worthy of a Conan Doyle, if not with the memorable and jaw-dropping quality of Christie. The style is rather clunky. Robert van Guli...more
Ivonne Rovira
Dec 26, 2012 Ivonne Rovira rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mystery lovers looking for the offbeat
I am a long-time fan of Robert van Gulik's Judge Dee series of mysteries. Van Gulik, a celebrated Orientalist and linguist and the Dutch ambassador to Japan, was fluent in Mandarin, among other Asian languages; his first Judge Dee book, Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee, was actually a translation of the cases of an actual Tang Dynasty magistrate and statesman by the name of Dee Goong An (sometimes transliterated as Dee Jen-Djieh and Dí Rénjié). Van Gulik realized that, if he recast the case files a...more
Jan 23, 2012 Amanda rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
This is officially my first review on GoodReads!!! It is also one of my first reviews ever. So, bare with me.

The Chinese Maze Murders by Robert Hans van Gulik, is very different from books with younger (more innocent/pure) characters in fantasy/sci-fi settings that I am usually drawn to. I have owned this book for at least 3 or 4 years and never even read the back cover or needless to say, cracked it open. I wish I had sooner.

This book was delightfully enjoyable. I liked the mixture of civil and...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Judge Dee wades through a maze of murders, motivations and mendacity to unravel three tricky mysteries and foil a barbarian invasion in the process. I particularly liked the depiction of the old hermit who gives Dee various gnomic but crucial clues and makes the formidable magistrate briefly consider giving up the hurly-burly of public service for a life of rural seclusion.
A highly enjoyable detective set in ancient China. Robert van Gulik definitely made me interested in reading more in this genre. He bases his stories on an old Chinese genre of writing detective stories, which revolve around the magistrate: a government official who was in charge of justice. He was the detective and the judge in one.

The story is streamlined to revolve around the mysteries, with the historical and cultural context as a background. Therefore, unlike historical novels pure sang, a...more
Jul 26, 2011 Laura rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Bettie, Wanda
Recommended to Laura by: Hayes
This is the story of Judge Dee who tries to solve three interconnected mysteries in the 16th century in China. Excellent reading.

This e-book is available free at the University of Chicago Press:
Gottfried Neuner
The Judge Dee novels by Robert van Gulik are a strange beast. The author was in the Dutch diplomatic service in Asia during WWII and decided to translate an old Chinese mystery novel based on stories of the historical Judge Dee Renjie. (the Tang-era personality still is well-known in China, there have been two high-end movies and multiple TV series based on the same character within the last decade or so).
The original book, the Dee Gong An, was written by an anonymous author in 17th century Min...more
Hakim Dee sibuk sekali di buku yang satu ini. Bukan hanya satu atau dua kasus saja yang harus dipecahkannya, namun total ada lima perkara berturut-turut, yaitu 2 usaha makar, 1 pembunuhan, 1 orang hilang dan 1 perkara perebutan warisan. Itu belum termasuk perkara-perkara sepele yang mampir ke ruang sidangnya. Namun ternyata semua perkara tersebut saling kait-mengkait, bukan saja di masa sekarang, namun juga sudah sedari masa yang lampau di mana sebagain pelaku-pelakunya sudah tidak ada lagi. Jad...more
Alexander Inglis
And now for something completely different ... The Chinese Maze Murders, the first of Robert Van Gulik's Judge Dee Mystery series, published in 1956. And, no kidding: these are the tales of Lan-fang's new newly arrived District Magistrate who is detective, prosecutor and judge in T'ang Dynasty China -- roughly 670 AD. Although a true historical figure, the stories are an amalgamation and re-imagining of many such stories that make up traditional Chinese literature. In this first outing, Judge De...more
The Crime Scene Scene
The Chinese Maze Murders is the second novel to feature Judge Dee, although the first to be directly written by Robert Van Gulik. Judge Dee is assigned to work as the Governor of Lan-Fang after Governor Yoo resigned his commission for an unknown reason. On his arrival he finds a near deserted town riddled with corruption. He starts to clear up the mess left by Governor Yoo when an old General is found murdered in locked room with seemingly no way the murderer could have entered or left. As he in...more
Irrungen und Wirrungen eines Beamten

Richter Di hat es schon schwer: Kaum an seinem neuen Arbeitsplatz in Fanlan angekommen, stürzen schon die Probleme auf ihn ein. Sein Vorgänger ist geflohen, dessen Vorgänger ermordet worden, ein lokaler Tyrann hat die Macht im Dorf übernommen, wilde Uighurenhorden stehen vor dem Stadttor. Die chaotische Situation verschlimmert sich noch, als ein bekannter Exgeneral ermordet aufgefunden wird, die Tochter eines Schmieds verschwindet und auch noch parallel dazu e...more
First sentence: "Judge Dee leaned back in his chair."

P. 99: "Chien stared at the judge with burning eyes."

Last sentence: "He swung himself in the saddle and rode back to the city."

From Wikipedia: The Chinese Maze Murders is a detective novel written by Robert van Gulik and set in Imperial China. It is a fiction based on the real character of Judge Dee (Ti Jen-chieh or Di Renjie - chin: 狄仁傑), a magistrate and statesman of the Tang court, who lived roughly 630–700. However, van Gulik's novel is s...more
Mar 08, 2013 Kevin rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of mysteries, early China, Judge Dee
There are three intertwined mysteries in this book, complicated by corrupt local administrations and an impending barbarian invasion. Judge Dee, of course, solves the mysteries, defeats the barbarians, and establishes an honest government. It's how he does these things, and the characters he meets, that make this a good story.

Judge Dee once again encounters some reluctant criminals on the road. This encounter helps establish Judge Dee's character for the new reader. Most of the characters, even...more
I do enjoy the Van Gulik Dee murders. They may not be much for mysteries in that you can't really try and figure out who did it, as the murderers aren't always in the stories till later but they are still quite fun. This one I had to say was a little more chaotic than normal. It had around 5 different storylines and plots at the same time. There wasn't much interconnectedness and they all got resolved quite quickly. There was the case of a painting revealing an inhertiance which I was sure was u...more
This was a success of setting a detective story into the past. I also liked it that there was a lot happening in the book - three mysteries that were solved, and also other intrigue. And because the setting is in the past, the book does not seem dated! Well, any more than it already is.

Good summer reading, I thought!
Only so-so but it has the glow of quasi believable antiquity. I read the introduction and totally didn't believe it. Chinese detective stories from the 1600s?! I'm still not quite clear on the source materials. It all reminds me of many movies set in ancient China. The text is pretty turgid, my husband finds it ideal as a going to sleep book.
This is a reread of a series associated with happiness and joy. I was a bit reluctant to reread these again. Well, I was worried for nothing. It's still captivates me, makes me smile, laugh and angry a bit too (there's plot point in this novel I didn't remember and now many years later makes me cringe. That plot point aside, I liked the friendships between Judge Dee and his staff, the way Dee finds the answers and solves the puzzles are usually crafty and cunning.

I liked it them, I like it now...more
Aleksandar Nikolov
Положението на Ди Жендзие в тази част на "Китайски загадки", може да се характеризира с две думи - Алеле , маикоу! То не е атентанти , подземни босове , лабиринти разни , изчезнали девоики , убийство на генерали , нападение на варвари и загадъчни разни шпиони! И това всичко за има няма една за седмица от ежедневието на съдията. Много екшън за малко време , и всичкото така навързано че свят да ти се замае! Хюлик Forever! ЙЕС!
Really nicely interwoven plot. A bit slow for my tastes, but with a lovely setting. The only thing that irks me is not hearing about Judge Dee's wives and children, but I suppose it's not that sort of book (they're mentioned off screen a few times)
Original Billith
If you've found these books, you already likely are familiar with them and what they are about - neither the author nor his style are exactly household names so I needn't sell you on the virtues of these books.

If you haven't, I can say that if you're truly looking for a change from the typical western mystery you will enjoy the more deliberate pacing, the unique setting and the way that the title character is Detective, Judge and Jury. The scenes of violence - descriptions of courtroom violence...more
Kathy Chung
in here, judge Dee was presented with tough questions. he wss thrown into a hostile and unfavorable situation and with his brilliant mind.

I love how the story flows there are multiple stories going on at the same time.

in here, we also get to see the cleverness of his underlings especially Ma Joong.

a special note at the end of book where the author described some of the apparatus used in the story .
I really enjoyed this book. The author was a student of ancient Chinese history and it shows in the level of detail which he includes, although the detail is not so heavy as to impede the stories. If it seemed a little slow at first, it was likely because the novel is based on real cases and written in a style the author felt would best reflect its origins.

The character of Judge Dee is a marvelous showcase of a Confucianist magistrate at the peak of Confucianism in China. An extremely virtuous...more
Unlike modern western mysteries where the detective has one case to solve in the course of the story, Judge Dee solves several, mostly unrelated, cases. As a result the feel of the story is more "slice of life" than "dramatic event", which I enjoyed.

Potential readers should be aware that the story does reflect the culture of the times, both that of the writer and that of Judge Dee. There is a lot of casual violence in the day to day life of the characters, torture is a valid way to obtain confes...more
This was an interesting detective story type book. I liked how it seemed to be accurately set in T'ang Dynasty China, both in how the society and officialdom was organized, and in how people spoke and behaved. The use of torture as a means of solving crimes and the harsh punishments meted out may have offended my sensibilities, but I suppose that was also an accurate representation of the setting. Some things were a bit to obvious. (view spoiler)...more
Two books in one of my favorite mystery series, the Judge Dee novels, about a 7th-century Chinese magistrate. Robert van Gulik evokes the setting well. Even though he knew much more about ancient China than the reader, he never pulls a bad sci-fi move such as having the characters tell each other the social context they should already know. Van Gulik was also great at physical settings (here, a 200-year-old monastery during a summer thunderstorm and Lan-fang, a town on the northwest border that...more
Lisa Kucharski
Got this as a free e-book from Univ of Chicago. Enjoyed this mystery formed from various ancient Chinese cases... was a great glimpse into the life of a Chinese outpost and how the legal system there worked.

Really good mysteries and many of them to unravel.

This version also had a introduction and post script by the author giving notes on the creation of the work and the sources used. All in all, a great mystery read and since it is the first of 12, I will now go and look for the others.
The Chinese Maze Mystery is set in T'ang Dynasty China (7th century) where the Magistrate Judge Dee is sent to a new post in the border regions. There he must solve mysteries involving a will, a murder, and a missing girl (the last is the least satisfying), overthrow the local strongman, and prevent a barbarian invasion. Based on Chinese sources the Judge is a thoughtful and resourceful character and you do get the feel of Chinese justice, including a bit of torture and execution.
David Albert
I first read "The Chinese Maze Murders" about twenty years ago. In this reading I did not remember it very well, though some it came back as I read it.
This is a Judge Dee mystery by Robert Van Gulik, a series written in the 1950's about the Judge Dee a Chinese Magistrate during the Ming dynasty. Most of these stories, including this one, have three mysteries going on at the same time. It makes for very entertaining reading. I think the Chinese Maze Murders is the best of the series.
Written in the style of a 18th century Chinese tale, about a feudal magistrate and the trials he runs into in taking over a previously unwatched over town in China, this book was incredibly fun. The writing is crisp, even when stilted, the concept is cool and the mysteries and the ways they are solved are so old fashion and interesting you can't help but reading. It reminded me of a feudal Chinese Sherlock Holmes.
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Robert Hans van Gulik was a Dutch diplomat best know for his Judge Dee stories. His first published book, The Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee, was a translation of an eighteenth-century Chinese murder mystery by an unknown author; he went on to write new mysteries for Judge Dee, a character based on a historical figure from the seventh century. He also wrote academic books, mostly on Chinese history...more
More about Robert van Gulik...
Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee (Dee Goong An) The Chinese Bell Murders The Chinese Lake Murders The Chinese Nail Murders The Haunted Monastery

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