The White Mirror
Minotaur, 2016 (2016)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
he White Mirror
Jade Dragon Mountain
as the second in an excellent historical mystery series starring exiled scholar Li Du in eighteenth-century China. In the first book, Li Du solved an embarrassing murder and an attempt against the life of the Emperor in Yunnan Province.
ow in 1708, though he might have chosen to return to favor in the Forbidden City, he has joined a Khampa trade caravan bound for Lhasa, on a route '
that connects the forests where the Chinese grow their tea leaves to the arid plateaus of Tibet, where it cannot be grown and is thus greatly valued.
' In a remote area, they come upon a monk meditating cross-legged on a bridge. But it turns out that the man is not meditating - he was murdered! On the corpse's chest is a painted drawing '
of a white circle framed in gold and blue.
' Such is the mystery that Li Du must solve, with the help of storyteller Hamza, a fellow traveler and friend.
hey stay at a nearby manor as a storm descends on the area, and report the corpse to the local lord, Doso Targum. It turns out to be that of Dhamo, a monk/painter who lived in seclusion in a mountain temple. Doso declares the death a suicide. Also staying at the manor are a dignitary from Lhasa (accompanying the Chhoshe, a reincarnated Lama of a minor lineage) who also spies for the Chinese Emperor; a Jesuit priest; and an intelligent and mysterious female traveler, Sera-tsering. What are they all up to? We know Li Du will find out.
hile he does, he muses on his past in China, on the fate of his mentor and closest friend, and on unfinished business back home. And he is offered the truth about his friend's arrest, in exchange for his silence - an impossible choice. All this sets the scene nicely for the next episode in this fascinating series, back in Beijing. I'm looking forward to it!
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