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The Chinese Lake Murders

(Judge Dee (Chronological order) #5)

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  1,070 ratings  ·  52 reviews
A.D. 666

The Chinese Lake Murders describes how Judge Dee solves three difficult cases in A.D. 666, shortly after he has been appointed magistrate of Han-yuan.

"[Robert van Gulik] deftly interweaves three criminal cases involving exotic yet universally recognizable characters, then has his Judge Dee provide a surprising yet most plausible solution."--New York Times Book Revi
Paperback, 215 pages
Published August 15th 1979 by University Of Chicago Press (first published 1960)
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4.13  · 
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 ·  1,070 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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Henry Avila
Jun 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
In the small isolated mountain city of Han-yuan, dominated by a large majestic lake and famous for its floating brothels "Flower Boats", Judge Dee is the newly appointed by the exalted Emperor , district magistrate. However he is bored , nothing has happened during his two tiresome months there, just sixty miles north from the grand Chinese Imperial Capital too...The time... A.D. 666 seems destined to remain mundane , the dark mysterious lake's waters holds secrets well though , four unlucky peo ...more
Ivonne Rovira
Feb 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Robert van Gulik was a Dutch diplomat, linguist (he writes English like a native!), and an expert in China, both modern and ancient. Thank God he also decided to become an author!

The Chinese Lake Murders unfurls with three cases from when Judge Dee was a new magistrate in Han-yuang in A.D. 666. While being feted on a pleasure boat, Judge Dee discovers the body of a murdered courtesan, Almond Blossom. Just moments earlier, the girl had whispered to Judge Dee that a terrible conspiracy was afoot i
Vanessa Wu
Aug 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Robert Van Gulik is a fascinating man and this novel reflects many of his interests. It combines scholarly attention to detail with a flair for melodrama and the macabre. He was very knowledgeable about ancient China and took a deep interest in Chinese erotic art. This mystery story draws on ancient Chinese detective stories, of which he had made a special study, and is enlivened with many erotic allusions to tease the reader's imagination. There are also a few action sequences featuring clever ...more
Apr 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-mystery
Published in 1960, this is another of Robert van Gulik’s detective novels set in Imperial China the 8th century AD, sees Judge Dee investigating three apparently unconnected cases. One involves a beautiful murdered courtesan, one involves the death of a bride of her wedding night, and the third involves the strange financial transactions of an elderly imperial councillor. It soon becomes evident that none of these cases is what it seems, and that the judge has stumbled upon something much larger ...more
Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
As with so many classics, you read this, you have no idea why you read this since it violates every standard of how to write a proper mystery, and yet you can't stop.

I will also say that Robert van Gulik was one of those authors who is at *least* as interesting as his characters.
Brian R. Mcdonald
Jun 02, 2010 marked it as books-with-go-references
Go references: Little on the game itself, but a diagram of a game position plays a major role in the plot.
Mazeli Dee
Nov 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is when Tao Gan joined the tribunal.
Momchil Atanasoff
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book, i'm yet to find a book of Van Qulik that i don't like ...
Jul 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Probably my favourite of the classic Judge Dee mysteries by RH van Gulik.

Part of the appeal is all in the setup. A small sleepy town at the foot of the hills, sixty miles away from Chang'an. Possibly a town with a very dark secret, given the beating and drowning of the dancing-girl and courtesan Xinghua, at an informal party held for Judge Dee by the local town magnates - right after she had hinted to him of an evil conspiracy. The suspects are the very same magnates and tradesmen of the town, w
Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk
When I started this book I thought "What the hell's going on?". The first few paragraphs appear to be about a man who is haunted by some malicious force, perhaps spirit. Then it turned into a quite good detective story and the "haunted" man had disappeared and never made a comeback.... how strange?
The detective story is quite entertaining with lots of little twists and turns that keep you rolling along. The supporting characters are fun and have their own adventures whilst engaged in the investi
Dec 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
The outcome of the story for Dee himself is not glory but a chewing-out by his superiors. The implication is that the ancient Chinese judicial and administrative system actually expects a Sherlock Holmes level of competence from its magistrates, and that Dee should have been on top of events from the very start.

I came away from this very pleased. It's interesting to see a mystery framed by an entirely different system of jurisprudence, and van Gulik goes to lengths to justify the story details w
Nancy Oakes
Feb 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
# 4 in the Judge Dee series.

Judge Dee travels throughout China to serve as magistrate. In this installment, he is in Han-yuan, where the case he is supposed to investigate involves embezzlement. However, as in all of these books, a number of different mysteries arise: the popular courtesan disappearance of the top courtesan Almond Blossom and the replacement of the body of a dead bride with a man who had most obviously been murdered. Add the White Lotus sect (a notoriously dangerous sect of reb
Nov 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009, recommended
Culturally, historically delightful and seemingly accurate. Half of Robert Hans van Gulik's energy seems spent upon the romanticized crime case and the detectiving that goes on about it, while the other half is spent in providing historically accurate details about costume, custom, architecture, and life in general to that period in China. Generally, the writing is excellent, though it is not van Gulik's native language. Instead, it has that precision and deliberation that occurs from having lea ...more
Demetri Lee
Nov 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
I borrowed this book as a recommendation from a friend when we were speaking about gothic horror/romance. Anyhow, the setting for this book is dark and takes the reader back to Ancient Chinese where the "detective" is Judge Dee (as some of you may know, the judge often plays the role of investigator in Chinese history). I probably consider this to be one of my first adult mysteries, I enjoyed the read. How would I compare this to Sherlock Holmes? Unfortunately I'll let you know when I get around ...more
Apryl Anderson
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was ok
(17.11.1993), This was a 1950s murder mystery with a very different setting. VanGulik used his experiences in China in an interesting way. Having read old Chinese mystery stories of the previous centuries, he could adapt them for his Western audience. I saw many Confucian influences, as well.
This was an action tale for men. I was really disgusted by the (too typical) characterization of women. I don’t remember any women of any substance in this tale. Only dead whores, albeit educated ones. Don’
Feb 13, 2012 rated it liked it
In this tale, we find Judge Dee in his younger days as a new magistrate in Han-yuan. Three cases, all intertwined, make up the bulk of this novel. Murder, revenge, love, conspiracies, the hunger for power, courtesans, and bandits all make appearances. Solid writing, but the plot is the sort where you really do need the "And this is how I figured it all out" exposition at the end to really suss it all out. Otherwise, a fine effort and enjoyable read.
Mar 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010, detective
Being judge Dee means to solve everything and from mere murder of the courtesan the deep and dangerous crimes evaporated like chloroform. It was getting more and more complicated during the book and more characters were introduced before the grand finale, when everything was solved.THe evil was uncovered and killed off.
Simple. It was enjoying to read it.Nice historical detective story from fancy place and time. I think I will try another from this author.
Kathy Chung
Feb 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
another gems from the author.

This involves national security for Judge Dee in his new district. Judge Dee was against a powerful sect , white lotus. He had no friends whom he can turn to fir help.

I like the intense feeling in this story.

what I don't like was the first chapter. I can't seems to grasp is it about current event, past or was it just a dream.

Another thing I didn't like is that Judge Dee had saved the country and yet higher up didn't was not appreciative enough.
Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016
I loved the idea, but I don’t think Robert Van Gulik’s mysteries are for me. I did enjoy this Judge Dee novel more than The Phantom of the Temple. The plot was more intricate and there was an attempt to present some stronger female characters. Still, Van Gulik seems to delight in including sordid details that add very little to the story as a whole.
Nancy H
Feb 28, 2014 rated it liked it
I like these old mysteries from Robert Van Gulik featuring Judge Dee. This one, as usual, has a complicated plot with several seemingly unrelated murders that really are entangled, with Judge Dee having to figure out several ingenious things that almost kept him from solving them.
Lisa Kucharski
Jul 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
A murder of a courtesan spins into political intrigue. Also in this book Tao Gan, a member Dee's inner circle, is introduced.

Interesting ending that gives light to the political atmosphere of the times.

High treason mixed with kidnapping with a dash of conspiracy. Judge Dee has its hands full as soon as he steps into his new assignment. This tale takes the reader to a whole other world and time but human nature doesn't really change. Not really.

Another really good mystery.
Jul 23, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-historical
Based on a real life person. Several crimes all intertwined. As a magistrate, the protagonist is allowed 4 wives so the personal life of the character is also very interesting. Feels authentic because of the description of the life and times of that period of history.
Oct 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
A very good plot dealing with a threat to the Emperor, a secret society, and several murders. This book is where Judge Dee first meets his fourth aide Tao Gan a reformed con man.
Marty Nicholas
May 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
One of Judge Dee's best.
Apr 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
any of the Judge Dee Mysteries are complete fun and so our of my social and cultural experiences, fascinating historical China.
Jul 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Another case of Judge Dee. I loved the spooky prologue. The rest was Dee's usual logical self. CSI China 666 A.D.
Kathy  Petersen
Aug 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
See The Chinese Gold Murders.
May 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An incredibly twisted plot for Judge Dee, this time involving The White Lotus, a revolutionary group as one of the mysteries.
Jun 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Another excellent, but gory Judge Dee
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Robert Hans van Gulik was a Dutch diplomat best known 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 histor ...more

Other books in the series

Judge Dee (Chronological order) (1 - 10 of 17 books)
  • Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee (Judge Dee #1)
  • The Chinese Gold Murders
  • The Lacquer Screen (Judge Dee (Chronological order) #3)
  • Judge Dee at Work: Eight Chinese Detective Stories
  • The Monkey and The Tiger
  • The Haunted Monastery
  • The Chinese Bell Murders (Judge Dee (Chronological order) #8)
  • The Red Pavilion
  • The Emperor's Pearl
  • Poets and Murder