This fascinating mystery by first-time author Elsa Hart is set in China in the 1700's and features an exiled librarian as the unlikely detective. The puzzling murder of an elderly Jesuit astronomer is set against a background of vibrant culture, science and politics to form a compelling tale. I’m very much looking forward to the next adventure with the intelligent and observant Li Du.— Anne K. McMahon
The East India Company is desperately trying to gain inroads to open trade with China, which is closed to outsiders by Imperial degree. The Jesuits and Dominicans are vying for favor but, the Jesuits have the upper hand as secret astronomical advisors to the Emperor. Set in a remote outpost preparing for an Imperial visit, the Emperor hopes to cement his hold on this uncivilized frontier and his claims to divinity by predicting the exact time of a solar eclipse. Li Du, a former imperial librarian, now exiled, is trying to escape the country, but first must report to the local magistrate. While there, an elderly Jesuit astronomer is killed and LiDu is charged with finding the murderer; there is no shortage of suspects. I thoroughly enjoyed being immersed in the life of 18th century China, complete with detailed descriptions of food, clothes, pageantry and tea. If you enjoy reading historical mysteries set in exotic locales, pick up Jade Dragon Mountain and lose yourself in a wonderful story.— Pam Stilp
September 2015 Indie Next List
“Hart has written an excellent historical whodunit set in a remote province of Imperial China in 1708. Li Du, a librarian in exile, investigates the murder of an old Jesuit priest a few days before the arrival of the emperor. Full of mythological, cultural, and historical details, Jade Dragon Mountain also offers a fascinating analysis of the period when foreign businessmen began coveting China's riches, in particular its tea. The plot is tight, the characters and suspects are fully developed, and the story keeps readers guessing with a few extra surprises at the end. I highly recommend this book and I am looking forward to reading more adventures featuring Li Du.”
— Pierre Camy (W), Schuler Books & Music, Grand Rapids, MI
On the mountainous border of China and Tibet in 1708, a detective must learn what a killer already knows: that empires' rise and fall on the strength of the stories they tell.
Li Du was an imperial librarian. Now, he is an exile. Arriving in Dayan, the last Chinese town before the Tibetan border, he is surprised to find it teeming with travelers, soldiers, and merchants. All have come for a spectacle unprecedented in this remote province: an eclipse of the sun commanded by the Emperor himself.
When a Jesuit astronomer is found murdered in the home of the local magistrate, blame is hastily placed on Tibetan bandits. But Li Du suspects this was no random killing. Everyone has secrets: the ambitious magistrate, the powerful consort, the bitter servant, the irreproachable secretary, the East India Company merchant, the nervous missionary, and the traveling storyteller who can't keep his own story straight.
Beyond the sloping roofs and festival banners, Li Du can see the mountain pass that will take him out of China forever. He must choose whether to leave and embrace his exile, or to stay and investigate a murder that the town of Dayan seems all too willing to forget.
About the Author
ELSA HART was born in Rome, Italy, but her earliest memories are of Moscow, where her family lived until 1991. Since then she has lived in the Czech Republic, the USA, and China. She earned a BA from Swarthmore College and a JD from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. She wrote Jade Dragon Mountain, the first of the Li Du novels, in Lijiang, the city that has grown up around the old town of Dayan.