Two very interesting stories of long ago Chinese magistrate Judge Dee and the mysteries he solves as part of his job. The colorful and authentic background is provided by the author, a noted orientalist who served in the Far East.
He was convinced that mysteries based on ancient Chinese culture would be popular. However, he understood that the ancient Chinese novels, which were popular in the time that he depicts, would be boring to modern readers. I know this for a fact, as I've tried reading a few and they seem to go nowhere.
So he took the culture of that period and wrote 'modern' mysteries. I think he did quite well. I stumbled on this book in a used book store. I read it and immediately requested two more of this series from members.
See the Wikipedia page on this author for the correct sequence of this series.