Recent Reads: The Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee

I really haven’t trashed anything I’ve read recently… and I’m not about to start now….

Quite frankly… this is one of the most interesting and entertaining books that I’ve read in a while…. And I’ve read some good ones and re-read some of my faves….

Many it was the mood or the stage of life… or something else… but this book just struck me a thoroughly entertaining….

One aspect is the historicity…. van Gulik points out the good, the bad, and the ugly…. He put appropriate points from the actual Chinese Penal Code in the notes at the end. He points out critical details that are necessary to understand some of the workings of the milieu… such as the interesting observation that Magistrates… or Detectives… or Judges… were the highest… and essentially the only officer within their district…. They were overworked…. And… they required the assistance of “Men of the Greenwood”…. Wayfaring officers of the peace who had in the not-too-distant past walked on the other side of the law…. Similar to Robin Hood…. Or Wyatt Earp… Bat Masterson… and the Father of the Fast Draw himself… Wild Bill Hickok….

Some of the conclusions… require suspension of disbelief… if you have a medical… or forensic mind…. But even the most outlandish of those… were pilfered by none other than Sherlock Holmes… whose author was knighted physician….

Some of the aspects of “Justice” are outlandish to the Western Mind….

A suspect is not innocent until proven guilty…. But… no suspect can be punished without a signed confession…. Torture… even extreme torture… may be used to obtain a confession…. But the Judge… and his accomplishes… may receive the same punishment they mete out if they are proved to be wrong…. Some of the punishments… and interrogation procedures… are gruesome…. And some of the quaint superstitions… and the beliefs of the time… lead to quite entertaining results….

A historical note…. Judge Dee lived during the T’ang Dynasty… during the rule of Emperor Wu…. The only female emperor in the long history of China…. Apparently… the original story went into a very roundabout… essentially pornographic interlude about the sexual prowess of Emperor Wu… involving the Chief Priest… after her second Imperial Husband died… and she ascended the Throne… rather than simply serving as Regent for her underage son…. In the end, she allowed the Dynasty she sought to establish to return to the T’ang…. She was ruthless…. And efficient…. And by all accounts… effective as a ruler….

The Judge Dee in this work is much more human… and much less of a superhero… than portrayed on the big screen…. All of the martial arts prowess belong to his deputies…. Again… like Wyatt Earp… he never killed anyone with his own hands….

Advertisements

One thought on “Recent Reads: The Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee

  1. Pingback: Recent Reads: The Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee | Wright-Wang Extreme Mystery, Inc.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s