Jade Dragon Mountain

 

It is the dawn of the eighteenth century. On the mountainous border of China and Tibet, a detective must learn what a killer already knows: that empires rise and fall on the strength of the stories they tell. 

Li Du was an imperial librarian. Now he is an exile. Arriving in Dayan, the last Chinese town before the Tibetan border, he is surprised to find it teeming with travelers, soldiers, and merchants. All have come for a spectacle unprecedented in this remote province: an eclipse of the sun commanded by the Emperor himself.

When a Jesuit astronomer is found murdered in the home of the local magistrate, blame is hastily placed on Tibetan bandits. But Li Du suspects this was no random killing. Everyone has secrets: the ambitious magistrate, the powerful consort, the bitter servant, the irreproachable secretary, the East India Company merchant, the nervous missionary, and the traveling storyteller who can’t keep his own story straight.

Beyond the sloping roofs and festival banners, Li Du can see the mountain pass that will take him out of China forever. He must choose whether to leave, and embrace his exile, or to stay, and investigate a murder that the town of Dayan seems all too willing to forget. 

Jade Dragon Mountain is an amazing book - truly wonderful.  Stunning in its atmosphere, setting, the gift of language and great writing.  Elsa Hart and her protagonist, Li Du, deserve a place in every collection.
— Louise Penny
Elegantly written, tightly controlled, and sweeping, Jade Dragon Mountain will leave its readers thinking as much about the nature of storytelling and memory as the vivid recreation of a poignant period in the history of China.
— Matthew Pearl
This debut historical mystery deftly combines ingenious plotting and suspense with a subtle understanding of China, its culture, and its people.  The protagonist, Li Du, a librarian and intellectual, is well worth keeping an eye on.
— Donna Leon