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Monkey and the Tiger Hardcover – Nov 1965


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Amazon.com: 20 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Excellent murder mysteries set in Ancient China Nov. 1 2000
By Ellen Whyte - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Judge Dee is an imperial magistrate who travels the country solving mysteries and murders. Not content merely to judge cases as they come to court, Judge Dee investigates crimes himself.

This book comprises of two short stories. In the first one, Judge Dee is upset to discover murder in his own home. It starts when he is watching a troop of monkeys playing in his garden and one of them drops an expensive emerald ring. Examining it, Dee realises the ring is encrusted with blood. When Judge Dee stumbles over a mutilated body hidden in his garden he decides to find out who is responsible. With the help of his assistant Tao Gan, Dee set out to investigate a nest of pawnbrokers, thieves and vagabonds.

In the second story, Judge Dee is travelling to the capital in order to receive a promotion thanks to his solving of the Chinese Nail Murders. Unfortunately the weather is fierce: Dee is separated from his staff and takes refuge in a large isolated country house. Here he finds that the family a mourning a young dead girl, seemingly a victim of a heart attack. The theft of 40 shining bars of gold, however, leads Dee to think there is more to the story. Beset by bandits, ghosts and superstitious hosts who believe that their troubles are foretold by the almanac and therefore immutable, Dee sets out to solve the mystery.

Judge Dee was practising in the 7th century but the writer, Robert Van Gulik, was a Dutch diplomat living in China in the early 20th Century. Interested in Chinese history, he decided to write a series of detective novel based old Chinese stories. Beautifully written, each Judge Dee story is a pearl of literature. The English is beautiful yet modern, easy to read yet evocative of the China that existed over 13 centuries ago.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Judge Dee The Monkey and the Tiger Nov. 30 2008
By N. L. Gormley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the later Judge Dee books and shows it. I think van Gulik was running out of ideas at this stage. I didn't find it nearly as entertaining as the earlier books in the series. I'm glad to have it as I now have the entire series but I confess I was a bit disappointed. Still a fascinating series however and anyone interested in Judge Dee or Chinese literature in general should read it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
TWO EXCELLENT FAIR-PLAY PUZZLES TO TEST YOUR WITS April 11 2013
By David R. Eastwood - Published on Amazon.com
Judge Dee, as many readers already know, was a real magistrate who lived in ancient China from 630 A.D. to 700 A.D. and is the central detective in a large series of crime novels and short fiction by Dutch diplomat-author Robert van Gulik (1910-1967). This book, THE MONKEY AND THE TIGER (1965), contains two novelettes that are very clever fair-play mysteries.

THE MORNING OF THE MONKEY, the first novelette, involves the murder of a middle-aged man who is found with four of his fingers cut off. The monkey in the title is a gibbon that came swinging into Judge Dee's garden with an emerald ring in one hand. After Dee tricks the gibbon into dropping the ring, he notices blood stains inside it--and the case begins. Within a short time Judge Dee discovers the dead owner of the ring in a small hut halfway up a nearby mountain. Thereafter, some of the clues are gathered by Dee himself and others by an assistant named Tao Gan, who is quite clever in many ways and who has many theories of his own. Most readers will be able to figure out one-third of this mystery, a few will be able to get two-thirds of it correct, but rare indeed are those who can match Judge Dee's abilities with this Puzzle.

The second novelette is THE NIGHT OF THE TIGER, which begins with Dee traveling south to a new position during a bad flood and being trapped, without his armed escort, on a small temporary island of high ground. One problem is that a gang of bandits is also on that island; another is that a young woman has apparently died of a heart attack--or perhaps been murdered--in the fortified country house where Judge Dee finds refuge and spends the night. On several occasions Dee, who is put up in her bedroom for the night, wonders if he could be seeing or hearing the dead woman's ghost. Could this be true? Could he be over-tired or dreaming? Again Dee investigates, and the clues are all there. And while most readers can solve what half of the clues mean, very few will be able to make proper sense of them all. And what about those bandits, who are preparing to attack at dawn with a huge battering ram?

Are YOU willing to accept the challenge?

Finally, both these Puzzles have what I'd call "value added": not only can you test your wits against those of detective Judge Dee and author van Gulik, but you can also experience some of the sincere melancholy and compassion that Judge Dee feels as he peels back the many layers of people's character and examines their diverse strengths and weaknesses in detail during his investigations.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TWO EXCELLENT FAIR-PLAY PUZZLES TO TEST YOUR WITS April 11 2013
By David R. Eastwood - Published on Amazon.com
Judge Dee, as many readers already know, was a real magistrate who lived in ancient China from 630 A.D. to 700 A.D. and is the central detective in a large series of crime novels and short fiction by Dutch diplomat-author Robert Van Gulik (1910-1967). This book, THE MONKEY AND THE TIGER (1965), contains two novelettes that are very clever fair-play mysteries.

THE MORNING OF THE MONKEY, the first novelette, involves the murder of a middle-aged man who is found with four of his fingers cut off. The monkey in the title is a gibbon that came swinging into Judge Dee's garden with an emerald ring in one hand. After Dee tricks the gibbon into dropping the ring, he notices blood stains inside it--and the case begins. Within a short time Judge Dee discovers the dead owner of the ring in a small hut halfway up a nearby mountain. Thereafter, some of the clues are gathered by Dee himself and others by an assistant named Tao Gan, who is quite clever in many ways and who has many theories of his own. Most readers will be able to figure out one-third of this mystery, a few will be able to get two-thirds of it correct, but rare indeed are those who can match Judge Dee's abilities with this Puzzle.

The second novelette is THE NIGHT OF THE TIGER, which begins with Dee traveling south to a new position during a bad flood and being trapped, without his armed escort, on a small temporary island of high ground. One problem is that a gang of bandits is also on that island; another is that a young woman has apparently died of a heart attack--or perhaps been murdered--in the fortified country house where Judge Dee finds refuge and spends the night. On several occasions Dee, who is put up in her bedroom for the night, wonders if he could be seeing or hearing the dead woman's ghost. Could this be true? Could he be over-tired or dreaming? Again Dee investigates, and the clues are all there. And while most readers can solve what half of the clues mean, very few will be able to make proper sense of them all. And what about those bandits, who are preparing to attack at dawn with a huge battering ram?

Are YOU willing to accept the challenge?

Finally, both these Puzzles have what I'd call "value added": not only can you test your wits against those of detective Judge Dee and author Van Gulik, but you can also experience some of the sincere melancholy and compassion that Judge Dee feels as he peels back the many layers of people's character and examines their diverse strengths and weaknesses in detail during his investigations.
Double Good Jan. 29 2014
By Neal J. Pollock - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Dutch diplomat and sinologist Robert Hans van Gulik (1910-67) apparently wrote 16 fiction and 1 translation of the exploits of historical Judge Dee (630-700). He includes a short "Postcript" at the end of all the ones I've read--which you might read first--especially if you haven't read any of them before. He also includes several woodcut type drawings which (while not historically accurate) IMHO greatly enhance these volumes and a "Dramatis Personae" list--especially valuable since its divided up by the case (most of these books involve simultaneous/multiple cases.

This particular book is actually two separate novellas of about 70 pages each:
(1) "The Morning of the Monkey" taking place in 666 (there's a hair raising date for you!) in Judge Dee's own district--he is involved by a Gibbon (actually a type of ape and not a monkey--but close enough for fiction (poetic license and all) carrying a gold ring with entwined dragons. This leads the good judge on a fun, interesting, and challenging adventure--with his usual panache and flashes of insight.

(2) "The Night of the Tiger" which takes place in 676 & pits the new Lord Chief Justice of the Empire and President of the Metropolitan Court (i.e. Judge Dee, promoted after "The Chinese Nail Murders," once again travelling, & born in the Year of the Tiger) without his strong entourage against the Flying Tigers--a gang of cut-throats. Admittedly, his separation from his guards is a bit far-fetched--it seems a bit arrogant to me--maybe because of his promotion? Of course, these bandits have no relation to the WWII Flying Tigers who actually flew planes. Interestingly, the Judge seems quite complacent despite the apparently dire situation. He does, however, as usual, figure out whodunnit--even when there isn't an apparent crime and also figures out a unique, clever, and IMHO satisfying way out of the dilemma of the Tigers.

Overall, as usual, the tales/cases are very enjoyable and delightful IMHO--especially for readers more interested in straight mystery vs. action/adventure/thriller. If you enjoy the Golden Age of Mysteries (e.g. Sayers, Christie, Marsh, Allingham, Tey), you will probably greatly enjoy the van Gulik books; I plan to read them all--with some now on order at Amazon. The Judge Dee books IMHO are more mystery oriented with less social commentary, flowery description, political intrigue, and physical action than many "mysteries" esp. contemporary ones--but do provide cultural insights--perhaps why I like them better.

If you are interested primarily in Oriental mysteries, you might read Ingrid J. (I.J.) Parker's ~11th century Japan Sugawara Akitada mysteries, Laura Joh Rowland's ~18th c. Japan Sano Ichiro mysteries, and/or James Melville's more contemporary Japan Superintendant Otani mysteries.

The 18 Judge Dee books I've found are (in alphabetical order, ignoring "the"): Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee (this one's a translation), The Chinese Bell Murders, The Chinese Gold Murders, The Chinese Lake Murders, The Chinese Maze Murders, The Chinese Nail Murders, The Emperor's Pearl, The Haunted Monastery, Judge Dee at Work, The Lacquer Screen, The Monkey & the Tiger, Murder in Canton, Murder in Ancient China (I've heard this is a sub-set of Judge Dee at Work), Necklace & Calabash, The Phantom of the Temple, Poets & Murder, The Red Pavilion, and The Willow Pattern. So, there are 18 books but one is redundant, one is a translation, and the other 16 are fictional works by van Gulik.

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