What an outstanding book. A brilliant adjoining of history and mystery with an extremely intriguing main protagonist.
No doubt Hart spent painstaking time researching due to the attention paid to the smallest of details. You feel every bit of eighteenth century China lending a tactile feel in atmosphere alone. I enjoyed the mystery but the heavy history element captured my attention an added a dimensional ambiance to my reading adventure. The small remote village feel gives you a true essence to China, culture, traditions, people as opposed to the opulent distraction of a big city life.
Li Du is fascinatingly intriguing. We know he is an upper class intellectual in exile but the exact reason in unknown, we are privy to scattered bits of the big why. He takes on the unintentional role of sleuth as he attempts to name the culprit in the murder of a Jesuit. Hart wonderfully describes Jesuit attitudes and those of the local people towards the Jesuits.
The mystery kept me guessing until the end, enthralling enough to maintain my interest. Plenty of secondary characters fully developed allowing for constant guessing in naming the actual evildoer.
I look forward to more of Li Du as well as much more of this time period and of China. Hart displays strong writing, smart plot matched with an economically cerebral main character Li Du. Outstanding research, cannot emphasize this fact enough.
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