Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The White Mirror: a Mystery

The White Mirror: a Mystery / Elsa Hart, 310 pp.

The 2nd in a new mystery series (Jade Dragon Mountain comes first) authored by a Wash U law school grad.   Set in the mountain passes between 18th century China and Tibet and featuring Li Du, mountain traveler and former librarian to the Emperor in Beijing, I hope this series enjoys a long life.  Li Du and his caravan, en route to Lhasa, become trapped in a snowy pass. As they descend to the welcoming lights of a manor house, they discover the corpse of a monk, mutilated and marked with symbolic painting.  Other travelers, also impeded by the storm, have already sought shelter at the manor, creating a nicely claustrophobic closed box mystery, a la Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None.

The plot is thoughtful and workmanlike, with a satisfying conclusion; even better was the wonderful sense of time and place: mountain geography, tensions between Imperial China and Tibet, and the bewildering, fascinating workings of religious tradition, complete with lamas, sacred artwork, visions and magic.  Thanks to Luise for the recommendation!

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