While the cleverly-woven plots and investigations are the high point of all the books in the series, the wonderful little details of people and life in ancient China are a learning experience as well. The accuracy of these details comes as no surprise as the author was once the Dutch ambassador to China. Highly recommended for fans of classic stories of deduction.
For those readers who shy away from mysteries because they seem contrived, get this (and The Chinese Bell Murders) and be transported to another time and place. I don't care for mysteries myself, but the history and exotic locales penned by van Gulik made me a fan!
I can't find a single flaw about this book. It's plain brilliant.