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The Red Pavilion

(Judge Dee (Chronological order) #9)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  1,147 ratings  ·  66 reviews
A.D. 668

A chance encounter with Autumn Moon, the most powerful courtesan on Paradise Island, leads Judge Dee to investigate three deaths. Although he finally teases the true story from a tangled history of passion and betrayal, Dee is saddened by the perversion, corruption, and waste of the world "of flowers and willows" that thrives on prostitution.
Paperback, 175 pages
Published April 1st 2005 by University of Chicago Press (first published 1961)
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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 ·  1,147 ratings  ·  66 reviews

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Henry Avila
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
As the old saying goes..."A friend in need is a friend indeed". The honorable Judge Dee will learn this out very quickly to his great regret, when passing through the resort of Paradise Island from unpleasant duties in the Imperial Capital, Chang'an ( now Xi'an) Disneyland but notorious in seventh century China during the Tang Dynasty, A.D. 668. Calling this an island is stretching it, mostly surrounded by a river though, an adult area for gambling houses, imbibing and brothels quite prosp ...more
Feb 22, 2014 added it
After the Dutch diplomat, orientalist and author Robert van Gulik (1910-1967) translated the Ming dynasty mystery novel Dee Goong An (Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee)

into English and had it published in Tokyo in 1949, it seems he was then on a mission - he wanted to convince the Chinese that their mystery tradition was strong enough to stand against that of the Occident and to convince the West that it was overlooking a good thing. It appears that he made at
Ivonne Rovira
May 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of historical mysteries set in exotic locales
Judge Dee, magistrate of Poo-yang, eagerly heads home after an unpleasant hearing in the capital surrounding some chicanery and illicit sex at a Buddhist monastery in the earlier The Chinese Bell Murders. Dee finds himself unexpectedly thrust into the role of investigator into an alleged suicide in the pleasure district of Paradise Island in the neighboring district. Paradise Island served as the Las Vegas of its day, with plenty of gambling, drinking and prostitution. The contrast between the “ ...more
Nancy Oakes
After The Haunted Monastery, this one is quite possibly my favorite.

We find our hero, Tang-dynasty magistrate Dee on the pleasure capital called Paradise Island, where, as usual, he must deal with murder & mayhem. As usual, one crime leads to the uncovering of others, and I love to watch the magistrate pick up and unravel every strand of mystery. It is also cool to read these stories & begin to get a bit of a feel for everyday life in ancient China.

#9 in the series, so don't start with this one
Apr 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
Robert van Gulik's Judge Dee mysteries are always a pleasant undertaking as anachronistic as they may be.

I tend to liken them to the works of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe stories where the character of the Judge and his assistants is just as important to the enjoyment of the stories as the mysteries.

In 'The Red Pavilion' there is the usual caveat of Judge Dee having to deal with more than one mystery at a time though in this instance they are all tied together by the titular Red Pavilion. A feature
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fast read. Nice variation on the locked room mystery

his is a fairly good selection in the Judge Dee series.

The judge finds himself in a capital of the Ukiyo (floating world or pleasure district), in particular the aptly named Pleasure Island. Think Las Vegas, with Fewer (!) vice laws. The island is in the midst of the Festival for the Dead and rooms are scarce. No manger for him, the room at the Inn he checks into is the Red Pavilion.
Its most recent inhabitant apparently committed suicide for
This might be my favourite Judge Dee novel (yes, I realize I have been saying this about each of the last two Dee books I've read). A very intriguing setting, a plot that isn't a political conspiracy (I tend to dislike those) and that reaches far into the fast - an interesting cast of characters and a really good riddle. The solution comes a bit out of the left field and I don't know how anyone could guess it (even though that I admit that some of the clues were there) and it's a pity only Ma Jo ...more
Aug 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
The Judge Dee novels are purely brilliant. Robert Van Gulik was a true Sinophile, weaving carefully studied bits of Chinese culture into his mystery novels to draw foreign crowds into an extravagantly exotic setting. Unfortunately, the Red Pavilion pales in comparison to Van Gulik's other novels. The conclusion lacks the punch many of his other novels, though two of the most interesting characters anywhere in the series make their appearance in this volume. Still, a must read for any Judge Dee f ...more
Karen GoatKeeper
Judge Dee's way home from the capitol goes through Paradise Island, a Chinese Las Vegas of gambling dens and courtesans. The neighboring magistrate has the island in his province and is there to relax and attend to business as the son of a high ranking official has committed suicide there. He has a problem and drops the case in Judge Dee's lap before leaving.
The leading courtesan is murdered in Judge Dee's rooms where the suicide took place while he is away at dinner. The suicide is reminiscent
Judge Dee Jen-djieh and his assistant, Ma Joong, are traveling back home after a court case, and are asked to stay in Paradise Island to investigate a potential suicide. Paradise Island is a area of courtesans and gambling, and although the Judge does not approve of this, his assistant is happy to partake of the pleasantries of the island. When there are two other deaths and a link to a death from 30 years ago, the Judge and Ma Joong have their work cut out for them to solve everything. This was ...more
Maughn Gregory
Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I discovered van Gulik's Judge Dee mysteries, set in ancient China, in a bookstore in Taipei, the summer of 1984 I spent there with friends, studying Mandarin, teaching English, and then using our salaries to travel in Thailand, Hong Kong and mainland China. The images that appear in my head as I read these mysteries come mostly from the wonderful art museums of Taiwan, since by 1984 there was precious little of that left on the mainland. ...more
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
There was Abbott and Costello, then Penn and Teller, but Crab and Shrimp were the predecessor of them all. Why do you think we grow pumpkins? D'oh!
I think for once the blurb was right, this was the best I had of Judge Dee series.
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Ma Joong is the man. I thought the solution was a bit too neat, but otherwise I liked Dee & Ma Joong in Vegas. Also loved the crustacean bros.
Aug 09, 2019 rated it liked it
2.5 stars rounded up.
Jan 19, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not my favorite one of these.
Tom Bell
Feb 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I LOVE THIS SERIES. It's so subtle and so good. ...more
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable read

I enjoyed this book and all the characters. I will certainly recommend it to anyone who enjoys Chinese mysteries.
I will continue to read more of this series.
Oct 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I liked this better than the one I read previously. The "Mord im Labyrinth" was a bit too supermanish i.e. it was unlikely that a newly arriving person with very limited support and knowledge of his new home would be able to gather support, solve three complicated murders and forestall an invasion in a very short time.
This one is much more focused, and while the time frame is only about two days, the story is believable. Actually, I thought the story very absorbing - the murders were committed n
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I'd read this quite awhile ago in French but I didn't remember anything that happened. I think this is definitely my favourite Judge Dee book to date. It felt the most Chinese and I was able to picture it as a Hong Kong style movie while I was reading it. The story was a nice muder mystery about an apparent suicide and a similar murder 30 years previously. The stories were intertwined but it wasn't really possible to guess who'd done the murders or why. The setting was "paradise island" (Which c ...more
Sep 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Judge Dee stops off on the way back from the capital in Paradise Island, a resort town where fleecing the customer through gambling, prostitution, and drink is the main industry. Judge Dee is too upright for any of that, but his friend Magistrate Lo convinces him to stay an extra day to wrap up a routine suicide case. Dee is then confronted by three unexplained deaths over a period of 30 years in the same locked room, the Red Pavilion, the hotel room he is staying in. Science fiction writers can ...more
Judge Dee is traveling through a neighboring district and has to spend the spend the night on a resort island noted for its gambling, prostitution and shopping. The local magistrate begs Dee to stay on for a couple of days to cover for him while he makes a sudden and unexpected trip. While there Dee is faced with three deaths that have occurred in the same (locked) room over the course of thirty years and appear to be suicides ... with just a few loose ends.

This story really belongs to Judge Dee
Jul 17, 2011 rated it liked it
This is a very different sort of mystery, based on a real judge in ancient China. Each book has three cases for the judge to settle and this one is set on a pleasure island where the Red Pavilion has been the setting for a number of strange events. Judge Dee is involved only because he is storm bound and put into the Red Pavilion as emergency housing. Little things like bribery and private vengeance are accepted as the price of existing in the China of that day but Dee tries to walk a clear path ...more
Kathy Chung
Feb 05, 2014 rated it liked it
I find that the story was a big dissappointing.

here Judge Dee was asked by his colleague to help "closed" a simple case of suicide. However the case did not turn out as simple as it looked.

a courtesan died and it was in the Red Pavilion. the same goes for the suicide case and another suicide case 30 years ago.

What I like about this book was Ma Joong, Crab and Shrimp. These three saves the story. Otherwise it would have been pale.

what I don't like about this story was the explanation of each c
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Although Van Gulik wrote these novels in English, it was his second language, (Dutch was his first) and the prose is flat and unappealing. I discovered these novels in 1989 when I lived in Paris and read every one of them obsessively ... boy, did it make my French weird. People would routinely roll their eyes during my four month obsessive hunt for "un panier a thé ouatiné".

Still, they were FUN.
Lisa Kucharski
Jul 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Ah, traveling broadens one's exposure to death. Or at least getting the last room available at an inn where two people have already died. Here Judge Dee investigates deaths of the past and present, separating truth from fiction and social intrigue from festering hatred. Interesting mix of place and culture as well. ...more
There's nothing really Chinese in this novel, the characters were talking and thinking the same way as we do today. Everything felt like a good story from Las Vegas or Hollywood, only that some of the characters got silk suits on them and a long beard. The mystery wasn't that surprising or especially good. The story was a nice and entertaining holiday for my overloaded little brain, though. ...more
Mar 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Vaguely based on a historical figure; interesting to see how our modern capitalist/industrial society frame for crime/police/state reads backwards into 7th century China. Judge Dee is a sharp observer of people. Which is really what you read for, isn't it? As well as a good puzzle?
In this one our protagonist investigates several deaths in a city of leisure. Ancient Chinese Las Vegas?
Chris Gager
Aug 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
I just remembered this one recently. Some of the forgotten "old ones" pop up from time to time. I'm not sure which of the JD books I read(only one) so I picked this one. Very entertaining as I recall. Date read is a guess. ...more
Nov 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
A nice story that leads to understand ways of managing showbuseness in old china. I do not know to which extend we can trust Guliks historical thruthness, but it was not unsimmilar to the present state of business.
Oct 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Judge Dee is one of my most fAvorite mystery series . Set back in ancient China and based on a true historical figure I just never get tired of reading about the culture end the mysteries are always clever.
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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 (Dee Goong An)
  • The Chinese Gold Murders
  • The Lacquer Screen
  • Judge Dee at Work: Eight Chinese Detective Stories
  • The Chinese Lake Murders
  • The Monkey and The Tiger
  • The Haunted Monastery
  • The Chinese Bell Murders
  • The Emperor's Pearl
  • Poets and Murder

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