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…the charm and excitement of a snowbound Agatha Christie mystery, along with the refined sensibility of centuries-old Chinese poetry and painting, in which surface reality seems both tactile and transparent.
Hart’s precise research makes 18th-century China seem fresh and relevant as she steeps “The White Mirror” with vivid scenery and believable characters.
…impeccably written, lucid, and evocative. With a sophisticated style, the novel underscores remarkable cultural details, gripping intrigue coded with history and enigmatic symbols, and the secret of dangerous conflicts existing between China and Tibet.
...an enlightening mystery that travels in a fascinating time and place. Hart imagines life in 18th century China with measured grace in her pacing and elegance in her prose.
★ ... seamlessly melds the complex politics of 18th-century Asia with a superior fair-play plot…the isolated and eerie manor setting is reminiscent of a classic golden age puzzle mystery, and Hart populates it with well-rounded characters.
★ ... Hart is a gifted storyteller, and this novel is full of storytelling—stories told for amusement, for enlightenment, and for deception.
★ .. readers who appreciate historical mysteries, especially the classic “Judge Dee” series by Robert van Gulik, will be enthralled by this fascinating mystery.
…the truth begins to unravel in the lyrical prose that has graced this novel throughout…
RT Book Reviews Winner, 2015 Best Historical Mystery
A Library Journal pick for Best of 2015 Audiobooks
Barry Nominee, 2015 Best First Novel
A BookPage pick for 10 Best Mysteries and Thrillers of 2015
Part mystery, part exploration of a culture fading into history’s shadows, Hart’s novel is a fascinating, intelligent debut.... Think Agatha Christie writing Shogun—Hart’s captivating debut has solid cross-genre appeal.
★ ... Hart’s sure command of historical complexities, conflicts between cultures, and plot twists leads to a satisfying conclusion.
The writing is lyrically beautiful. Intricate plotting leads to an ending that is perfect and surprising. The history is fascinating and reveals the world, its atmosphere and the culture of a relatively unknown Chinese period.
The mix of history, thriller, and layers of storytelling make for a complex and rewarding novel that deserves a wide readership.
...perfectly melds history with the mystery genre for a lush look at China on the cusp of change.... one of the year’s most engrossing debuts and establishes Hart as an author to watch.
An Amazon Best Books of the Month pick in the categories of Literature & Fiction and Mystery, Thriller & Suspense.
The intricate, detailed mystery never disappoints, but Hart’s descriptions set the book apart, illuminating a world for readers to savor.
In addition to being a satisfying mystery, “Jade Dragon Mountain” also powerfully evokes the aesthetics of the time and place it describes.
...Opens a window on 18th-century China. Relying on a classic murder mystery framework, Hart is teaching history.
...an innate feel for the enigmatic meanings of murder.
Jade Dragon Mountain achieves an allegorical resonance...”
an intoxicating debut from a promising new writer
An IndieNext Pick for September 2015.
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.
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.
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.