THE WILLOW PATTERN Author:ROBERT VAN GULIK The imperial capital is griped by plague. The court and most of the officials have fled, leaving Judge Dee, the President of the Metropolitan Court, to rule temporarily. While faced with the overwhelming tasks of providing food for the populous, arranging the collection and disposition of the plague victims bodies, and controlling criminals wh... more »o see the current weakness of the police - three crimes occur. A rich merchant is murdered. The philanthropist who has been organizing the distribution of food dies of an "accidental" fall, which quickly is shown to be murder. A strange, beautiful girl, pretending to be a prostitute (but the guild of prostitutes has strong rules on who is and who isn't)) is whipped to death in an aristocrat's palace.
(Judge Dee Jen-djieh was a real person who lived from 630 to 700 AD, during the Tang dynasty. Judge (the title of the city magistrate) Dee was famous as a solver of crimes, and became a hero of the traditional Chinese detective story. Robert van Gulik, an expert on the Tang dynasty, wrote a series of murder mysteries, using Judge Dee as his hero.« less