THE white mirror

 

In this sequel to the critically acclaimed Jade Dragon Mountain, Li Du, an imperial librarian and former exile in 18th century China, is now an independent traveler. He is journeying with a trade caravan bound for Lhasa when a detour brings them to a high valley hidden between mountain passes. On the icy planks of an old wooden bridge, a monk sits in silent contemplation. Closer inspection reveals that the monk is dead, apparently of a self-inflicted wound. His robes are rent, revealing a mysterious symbol painted on his chest.

When the rain turns to snow, the caravan is forced to seek hospitality from the local lord while they wait for the storm to pass. Li Du receives a courteous welcome at the manor built into the mountain. The dead monk, he soon learns, was a reclusive painter who lived alone in a nearby temple. According to the family, his bizarre suicide is not surprising, given his obsession with the demon world.

But Li Du is convinced that all is not as it seems. Why did the caravan leader detour to this particular valley? Why does the lord’s skittish heir sleep in the barn like a servant? Why is an Italian missionary convinced that there is a lost Christian kingdom in Tibet? And who is the mysterious woman traveling unescorted through the mountain wilds?

These are dangerous times and dangerous roads. Political tension is escalating between the Emperor of China, the King of Tibet in Lhasa, and the Mongols in the north. Bandits roam the trade routes. Trapped in the snow, surrounded by secrets and an unexplained grief that haunts the manor, Li Du cannot distract himself from memories he has tried to leave behind. As he discovers irrefutable evidence of the painter’s murder and pieces together the dark circumstances of his death, Li Du must face the reason he will not go home and, ultimately, the reason why he must.


…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.
Wall Street Journal
Hart’s precise research makes 18th-century China seem fresh and relevant as she steeps The White Mirror with vivid scenery and believable characters.
Associated Press
…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.
Washington Independent Review of Books
...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
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
★ ...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.
Publisher's Weekly (starred review)
★ ...Hart is a gifted storyteller, and this novel is full of storytelling—stories told for amusement, for enlightenment, and for deception.
Booklist (starred review)
★ .. readers who appreciate historical mysteries, especially the classic “Judge Dee” series by Robert van Gulik, will be enthralled by this fascinating mystery.
Library Journal (starred review)