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Authors: Robert van Gulik

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The Chinese Maze Murders

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Judge Dee Mysteries available from Chicago:

The Chinese Maze Murders
Judge Dee at Work
The Emperor’s Pearl
The Haunted Monastery
The Lacquer Screen
The Monkey and the Tiger
Murder in Canton
Necklace and Calabash
The Phantom of the Temple
Poets and Murder
The Red Pavilion
The Willow Pattern

THE CHINESE MAZE MURDERS

A Chinese detective story suggested by three original ancient Chinese plots

by
ROBERT VAN GULIK

With nineteen plates
drawn by the author in Chinese style

 

THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS

THE CASE OF THE MURDER IN THE SEALED ROOM

THE CASE OF THE HIDDEN TESTAMENT

THE CASE OF THE GIRL WITH THE SEVERED HEAD

 

The University of Chicago Press, Chicago 60637
The University of Chicago Press, Ltd., London

Copyright © 1957 by N. V. Uitgeverij W. van Hoeve
The Hague - Netherlands

All rights reserved. Originally published 1956
University of Chicago Press Edition 1997
Printed in the United States of America
09 08 07    6 5 4 3

ISBN-13: 978-0-226-84878-5 (paper)
ISBN-10: 0-226-84878-7 (paper)
ISBN-13: 978-0-226-84909-6 (electronic)

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Gulik, Robert Hans van, 1910–1967.

    The Chinese maze murders : a Chinese detective story suggested by three original ancient Chinese plots / by Robert Van Gulik ; with nineteen plates drawn by the author in Chinese style.
      p.    cm.
    “A Judge Dee mystery.”
   ISBN 0-226-84878-7 (alk. paper)
   1. Deejen-Djieh (Fictitious character) —Fiction. 2. Judges—China—Fiction. I. Title.

PR9130.9.G8C54    1997
823’.914—dc21

97-1028

CIP

FOREWORD

A
FTER
the appearance of my translation of the old Chinese detective novel ‘Dee Goong An’
*
I was asked to search for other Chinese novels of that kind. However, such books are now rather scarce and moreover it proved difficult to find one that appeals equally to modern Chinese and Western taste. As a matter of fact, ‘Dee Goong An’ is an exception. As a rule style and contents of ancient Chinese crime and mystery stories differ so much from modern ones that they are of slight interest to the present-day Oriental reader, and even less to the Westerner.

On the other hand old Chinese crime stories contain many clever plots and much material relating to the detection of crime. I thought, therefore, that it would be an interesting experiment to write a Chinese-style detective story myself, utilizing plots found in Chinese stories from bygone times.

I engaged upon this experiment mainly in order to prove to present-day Chinese and Japanese authors that it is possible to write a detective-novel in traditional Chinese style that yet appeals to the modern Oriental reader. I thought this all the more worth while since at present the
book-market in China and Japan is flooded with bad translations of third-rate foreign thrillers, while their own ancient crime novels are practically forgotten. When I had completed my English manuscript of ‘The Chinese Maze Murders’, it was translated into Japanese by Professor Ogaeri Yukio, and published in 1951 by the Kodan-sha in Tokyo, under the title
Meiro-no-satsujin
, with a preface by the well known Japanese mystery writer Edogawa Rampo. Then I myself prepared a Chinese version, which was published in 1953 by the Nanyang Press in Singapore, under the title
Ti-jen-chieh-chi-an.
Both editions were favourably received in the Chinese and Japanese press. Encouraged by this success I wrote two more ‘Judge Dee’ novels, ‘The Chinese Bell Murders’ and ‘The Chinese Lake Murders’, of which a Chinese and Japanese version is now in preparation.

Having thus attained my main object, it occurred to me that also Western readers might perhaps be interested in this new type of crime novel. Therefore I decided to publish my English text of ‘The Chinese Maze Murders’, an additional motive being that the Chinese element has been introduced so often by Western writers of detective stories that I thought that the reader might be interested in seeing how it looks in genuine Chinese garb.

For information on the background of the present novel and the Chinese sources utilized the reader is referred to my Postscript at the end of the book. Here it may suffice to say that I borrowed three plots from ancient Chinese sources, rewriting them as one continuous story centering round the famous ancient Chinese master-detective Judge Dee. I retained the typical features of old Chinese detective novels, such as the prologue which gives some idea of the main events of the story itself, the headings in two parallel lines, the peculiar Chinese device of letting the
detective solve a number of cases simultaneously, etc., and in general tried to preserve as much as possible Chinese style and atmosphere.

The scene of my story is laid in Lan-fang, an imaginary border town of China during the seventh century A.D. The reader will find a Chinese map of that city on page xiv of the present publication. The plates were drawn by me in the style of book-illustrations of the Ming Dynasty.

All the credit of what may be found satisfactory in this novel must go to the ancient Chinese writers who evolved the plots. All its shortcomings must be blamed on the present author.

 

The Hague, spring 1956

R
OBERT VAN
G
ULIK

*
Dee Goong An, three murder cases solved by Judge Dee.
An old Chinese detective novel translated from the original Chinese with an introduction and notes, by R. H. van Gulik, Litt.D.; one illustrated vol. publ. Tokyo 1949.

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

It should be noted that in Chinese the surname, here printed in capitals, precedes the personal name.

Main Characters:

D
EE
Jen-djieh, newly appointed magistrate of Lan-fang, a town district on the Northwest border of the Chinese Empire. Referred to as ‘Judge Dee’, or ‘the judge’.
H
OONG
Liang, Judge Dee's confidential adviser and sergeant over the constables of the tribunal. Referred to as ‘Sergeant Hoong’, or ‘the sergeant’.
M
A
Joong, T
A
o Gan and C
HIAO
Tai the tree trusted lieutenants of Judge Dee

 

Persons connected with ‘The Murder in the Sealed Room’:

D
ING
Hoo-gwo, a General living retired in Lan-fang. Found murdered in his own library.
D
ING
Yee, a Junior Candidate of Literature, his only son. Referred to as ‘Candidate Ding’, or ‘Young Ding’.
W
OO
Feng, son of Commander Woo of the Board of Military Affairs in the capital. A Junior Candidate of Literature and amateur painter.

 

Persons connected with ‘The Hidden Testament’:

Yoo Shou-chien, an ex-Governor who died while living retired in Lan-Fang.
Mrs. Yoo,
neé
M
EI
, the Governor's young second wife.
Mrs. L
EE
, a painter, friend of Mrs. Yoo.
Yoo Kee, the Governor's eldest son by his first wife.
Yoo Shan, infant son of Mrs. Yoo.

 

Persons connected with ‘The Girl with the Severed Head’:

F
ANG
, a blacksmith. Later appointed headman of the constables of the tribunal, and hence referred to as ‘Headman Fang’ or ‘the headman’.
White Orchid, his eldest daughter.
Dark Orchid, his second daughter.
His son.

 

Others:

C
HIEN
Mow, the local tyrant who usurped power in Lan-fang.
L
IU
Wan-fang, his eldest counsellor.
Corporal L
ING
, a deserter from the regular army, reinstated by Judge Dee.
Orolakchee, an Uigur chieftain. His real name is Prince Ooljin. His false name ‘Orolakchee’ means
agent
or
representative
.
The Hunter, accomplice of Orolakchee.
Tulbee, an Uigur girl.

 

Occurs in
Chapter XIX
only:

Master Crane Robe, an old recluse.

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

I Judge Dee attacked by two robbers

II Chien Mow’s men invade the tribunal

III Ma Joong and Chiao Tai arrest a criminal

IV Governor Yoo’s picture

V Three monks report a theft to the tribunal

VI Judge Dee in General Ding’s library

VII Judge Dee in Woo Feng’s studio

VIII The drinking bout in the Eternal Spring Wineshop

IX Yoo Kee welcomes Judge Dee to his mansion

X Woo Feng’s strange encounter in the temple garden

XI Dark Orchid reports to Judge Dee

XII Ma Joong meets Tulbee

XIII Master Crane Robe and Judge Dee

XIV A criminal confesses his nefarious schemes

XV Judge Dee confronts a criminal with the evidence

XVI Plan of the Governor’s maze

XVII Dark Orchid surprised while taking a bath

XVIII Judge Dee on the ramparts of Lan-fang

XIX A depraved criminal on the execution ground

CONTENTS

First Chapter
A strange meeting takes place on a lotus lake; Judge Dee is attacked on his way to Lan-fang

Second Chapter
Judge Dee opens the first session of the tribunal; He discovers in the archives an unsolved problem

Third Chapter
The judge witnesses a quarrel on the market; A young man forecasts his father’s murder

Fourth Chapter
Tao Gan reports on a mysterious old mansion; An ingenious trap is set in the dark tribunal

Fifth Chapter
Twenty ruffians attack in the dead of night; Judge Dee sets out on a dangerous excursion

Sixth Chapter
Four guildmasters are received in the main hall; Mrs. Yoo visits the tribunal with an old picture

Seventh Chapter
Three roguish monks receive their just punishment; A Candidate of Literature reports a cruel murder

Eighth Chapter
An old General is murdered in his own library; Judge Dee goes to visit the scene of the crime

Ninth Chapter
Judge Dee ponders alone in a dead man’s room; The autopsy brings to light the cause of death

Tenth Chapter
Judge Dee pays a visit to an eccentric young man; He presides an artistic meeting in the tribunal

Eleventh Chapter
Tao Gan has an adventure in an old temple; Ma Joong meets his match in a drinking bout

Twelfth Chapter
Judge Dee discusses the secrets of two pictures; A young girl discovers passionate love letters

Thirteenth Chapter
Yoo Kee entertains a distinguished guest to tea; Judge Dee decides to revisit the General’s studio

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