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Jade Dragon Mountain

by Elsa Hart

Jade Dragon Mountain by Elsa Hart X
Jade Dragon Mountain by Elsa Hart
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2015, 336 pages
    Jul 2016, 352 pages

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Jade Dragon Mountain
Atmospheric and intriguing mystery set around the opening of China to the West. Exiled Imperial Librarian Li Du is a sympathetic character dropped into a controversy surrounding the Emperor's visit to the border city of Dayan and the murder of a Jesuit astronomer, but it's Hart's description of 18th century China that sings. Hopefully Li Du's adventures will continue.
Jeanette L. (Marietta, GA)

Jade Dragon Mountain
The story takes place at the beginning of the eighteen century in Dayan a frontier town in China.

The main character is Li Du a librarian and intellectual, a scholar who has been exiled from Beijing by the Emperor almost 5 years ago. Li Du has been traveling Jade Dragon Mountain looking for the pass/ridge that will take him out of China; the problem is that to get to the ridge he has to pass thru the town of Dayan. Having no choice once he is in Dayan he asks for directions to the Magistrate residence to present his travel documents fulfilling the conditions of his sentence to provide a record of his presence. Li Du does not plan to stay in the city once his papers are presented. He is taken to his cousin Magistrate Tulishen , who requires Li Du to stay a few days before the Emperor arrives so he can find out what he can about the foreigners, the Jesuits. The death of the oldest Jesuit Pieter causes all kinds of speculation as to the cause of the death if natural or murder.

This is the premise of this wonderful book full of intrigue, murder, politics, ambitions etc. The plot thickens more and more as you continue to read, making you want more, wishing you could read faster. Great book I loved it.
Susan W. (Leesburg, VA)

Jade Dragon Mountain
I have always loved mystery books and was not disappointed with this one. I was kept entertained not only with the mystery itself but also with the imagery of when China was ruled by emperors. And just when you think the mystery is solved your are surprised with another one. The twists and turns of the characters made this a very enjoyable read.
Patricia S. (Chicago, IL)

Jade Dragon Mountain
Elsa Hart's "Jade Mountain Dragon" is a wonderful book, and I hope it is the first in a new mystery series. Set in eighteenth-century Yunnan, China, it blends Chinese culture with frontier culture and the Jesuit missionary attitudes of the time. Li Du, the central character, is a great blend of educated upper class Chinese with a touch of Hercule Poirot. The setting is unusual, not the usual bustling Chinese city, but a small town, the last Chinese town before the Tibetan border. Li Du, exiled for reasons that aren't clear, becomes involved in a murder of a Jesuit, five days before the Emperor makes a ceremonial visit to the town to be presented with a European mechanical marvel. I found the unusual setting very intriguing and the mystery challenging enough to hold my interest until the very last plot twist. Hart writes well, describing her characters memorably, the plot moves along quickly, and since Li Du has not yet crossed out of China, I hope we will see more of him, and learn more of this fascinating period.
Susan M. (Ashland, OR)

Jade Mountain Dragon
I was intrigued and a bit skeptical by the description of this book, a murder mystery set in eighteenth century China. Elsa Hart has woven a silken tapestry of intrigue and fascinating characters set against the vibrant landscape of China. Her descriptions of people and places are so real. Li Du the librarian reminds me a bit of Colombo but much more complex.

I am looking forward to reading more novels from Ms Hart
Amanda G. (Windham, OH)

East Meets West In a Fascinating Historical Mystery
Elsa Hart's debut novel, Jade Dragon Mountain, is a must read for historical mystery fans. The novel introduces a fascinating new detective, Li Du, a librarian living in 18th-century China who must solve the murder of an elderly Jesuit priest. Hart provides a fascinating glimpse of Chinese politics and culture, especially in the northern borderlands where the novel is set. The novel is filled with fascinating characters: A nervous young Jesuit who is an expert in botany, an English spice trader who seems to be hiding something, and a mysterious Middle Eastern storyteller who has as many tales as Scherezade. Jade Dragon Mountain was a delight to read and Li Du has quickly become one of my favorite historical detectives. I hope Ms. Hart will provide us with more tales from Li Du. If so, I'll save a place on my bookshelf for the introspective librarian next to my Brother Cadfael and Amelia Peabody mysteries.
Laurie F. (Brookline, MA)

Enchanting Mystery in18th Century China
Jade Dragon Mountain was a wonderful escape into a land and era I have not read much about. The mystery revolves around the death of Brother Peiter, an educated astronomer and guest of the magistrate. The author creates a diverse cast of characters (a.k.a. suspects) awaiting the momentous arrival of the Emperor and the impending eclipse. An event, that will catapult the magistrate's political reputation, cannot be tarnished by an inconvenient murder or by an impetuous cousin who is determined to find the killer. An absolutely wonderful, entertaining read and education about China during this period.
Rebecca H. (Bolton, CT)

Jade Dragon Mountain
Medieval England has its Brother Caedfael, present-day Venice its Guido Brunetti; now 18th Century China has its Li Du, an appealing and sympathetic librarian/scholar recluse exile wandering through the "uncivilized, dangerous frontier" of the southwest. As the story of Jade Dragon Mountain opens, he is traveling to the residence of the local magistrate in the city of Dayan, who also happens to be his cousin. Unbeknownst to Li Du, the city is preparing for the state visit of the emperor who has ousted him from his position of state librarian in Beijing and exiled him. The occasion is a grand ceremony celebrating the coming solar eclipse. While at the magistrate's estate, Li Du is given the task of solving the murder of an elderly Jesuit scholar residing there. The machinations of the powerful East India Company and the Jesuit and Dominican brothers in China and the politics of the Chinese empire combine in this intriguing mystery. The social and political culture of Li Du's time weaves through the novel, and the whodunit aspect of the mystery is enjoyable. The believable characters, including the emperor's first consort, a traveling storyteller from Egypt, and a mysterious botanist masquerading as a Jesuit brother, add to the enjoyment of this debut suspense novel.
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