Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Chinese Bell Murders

Judge Dee #1: “The Chinese Bell Murders” by Robert Van Gulik.  Actually, this is the third published Judge Dee work, though the first published in the US. It is also the first case of Judge Dee in Poo-yang Province. Judge Dee Jen-djieh comes to the Poo-yang tribunal in the 7th Century China, with his four aides – Lieutenants Ma Joeng, Chiao Tai, & Tao Gan, along with his close associate, Sergeant Hoong. Three mysteries are awaiting him as he replaces the previous Judge. The rape and murder of a young girl on Half Moon Street, mysterious going-on at the Temple of Boundless Mercy, and a feud between the Laing family and Lin Fan, in which a number of murders have been committed, as well as smuggling. How the judge unravels all the mysteries and brings the cases to a satisfying conclusion is a fun read, and we get to know Dee and his aides personally as their investigation progresses.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Assignment Peking

Sam Durell #28: “Assignment Peking” by Edward S. Aarons. Supposedly K-Section and E-Section of the CIA are at each other’s throats. Someone wants K-Section and General McFee shut down; McFee brings Durell in for assignment to Piking, but he’s under orders to E-Section. Jasmine Jones, a Chinese/American is assigned to keep an eye on Sam, but no one is to be trusted, even Jasmine, McFee, or the general in charge of E-Section. Surgery makes Durell look like Major Shan, a Chinese agent, who is supposed to be dead, but then Shan returns to complicate matters, and we find that there’s a third element playing both sides against each other. Code-named The Six Sentinels, they are an American group wanting China to drop an atomic bomb on Taiwan, bringing a nuclear war between the US and China. Actually, I felt this plot was too complicated for its simplicity. US Intelligence should have been able to uncover the third party with ease, and Durell would have been unnecessary. But being a Sam Durell action novel, we get to watch his cold efficiency in preparing to kill McFee or anyone else involved. A fun read.