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Magistrate Lin and the Eye of the Dragon

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Rebellion, sedition and murder in Ming Dynasty China
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Author: Charles Mossop
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Magistrate Lin and the Eye of the Dragon

by Charles Mossop

Genre Mystery Thriller

Tags China, murder, sedition, rebellion, lies, danger, mystery, history

Release April 7, 2015

Editor Nancy Bell

Line Editor Lea Schizas

Cover Designer Charlotte Volnek

Words 17385

Pages 74

ISBN  978-1-77127-706-8

Price $3.50


Back Cover

When Magistrate Lin Jiang answers the summons to officiate at the Imperial Civil Service examinations in Beijing during the reign of the Ming Dynasty Emperor Wan Li, he expects nothing out of the ordinary. What he finds, however, is a tangled web of intrigue and murder which he is instructed to unravel before the end of the three-day examination. With the help of his manservant, Chan Ping, and an enterprising young serving boy, Lin sets about investigating the death of an official found murdered within the examination compound. The trail leads him to a complex puzzle of lies, sedition and rebellion which point an accusing finger in a most unexpected and dangerous direction.


Excerpt

“Are you able to say when he was killed?”

“Many hours ago, Master,” answered Chan. “He should have gone to replace you shortly after midday, and I think he was killed about that very time. The stiffness in his body began to ease as midnight approached, and such loosening commences about twelve hours after death.”

Lin nodded before asking, “And what besides that can you say?”

“As we know, Master,” said Chan, standing before Lin where he sat behind a low table of deeply carved ebony, “the man was stabbed in the chest, which, though not actually near his heart, lacerated his lung and caused his death. The knife has a wide blade and a bone handle, almost certainly a Mongol weapon.”

“Mongol?” echoed Lin, his eyebrows raised. “How odd.”

The Mongols had not ruled the Middle Kingdom for over two hundred years. Imperial troops no longer carried weapons of Mongol design into battle, and thus a Mongol knife was a rarity in Beijing.

“There is another thing, Master,” said Chan Ping. “I found this clutched in Zhou’s right fist.”

So saying, Chan placed in Lin’s open palm a large pearl, as black and lustrous as a raven’s wing.

“A single pearl, a Mongol knife, a secret meeting, and a dead man,” Lin mused, gazing at the gem. “How are they connected, I wonder? It is a mystery.”

“Indeed, Master,” said Chan, with a nod.

“A mystery which must be solved before sunset tomorrow,” added Lin, frowning a little. “Once the examination is concluded and the gates opened, everyone will depart. Finding the evildoer will then be impossible.”

“What is to be done?” asked Chan.

“To begin with,” Lin answered, standing up, “tell the soldiers Zhou’s body can be removed.”

Chan bowed and departed, returning a few moments later with four guards in bronze-studded leather armor, carrying sheathed at their sides a curve-bladed weapon called a willow leaf sword.

Although the death of an official was rare, it was not at all unknown for an examinee to die from time to time, and since the gates of the compound could not be opened, corpses were disposed of in an expeditious, if somewhat insensate, manner. Accordingly, an hour later, Lin watched as Zhou’s body, rolled and trussed tightly in a bamboo mat, was carried by four guards up to a platform from which it was unceremoniously dropped over the wall onto the road outside. Lin abhorred the practice, but he knew it was age-old. If no one claimed Zhou’s body, it would be taken away and buried, without rite or ritual, in an unknown place, denying his soul a resting place in a tablet in his ancestral temple, and depriving it of the honor and respect due from his family.

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