In "The White Mirror," the follow-up to Elsa Hart s critically acclaimed debut, "Jade Dragon Mountain," Li Du, an imperial librarian and former exile in 18th century China, is now an independent traveler. He is journeying with a trade caravan bound for Lhasa when a detour brings them to a valley hidden between mountain passes.Read more...
In "The White Mirror," the follow-up to Elsa Hart s critically acclaimed debut, "Jade Dragon Mountain," Li Du, an imperial librarian and former exile in 18th century China, is now an independent traveler. He is journeying with a trade caravan bound for Lhasa when a detour brings them to a valley hidden between mountain passes. On the icy planks of a wooden bridge, a monk sits in contemplation. Closer inspection reveals that the monk is dead, apparently of a self-inflicted wound. His robes are rent, revealing a strange symbol painted on his chest.
When the rain turns to snow, the caravan is forced to seek hospitality from the local lord while they wait for the storm to pass. The dead monk, Li Du soon learns, was a reclusive painter. According to the family, his bizarre suicide is not surprising, given his obsession with the demon world. But Li Du is convinced that all is not as it seems. Why did the caravan leader detour to this particular valley? Why does the lord s heir sleep in the barn like a servant? And who is the mysterious woman traveling through the mountain wilds?
Trapped in the snow, surrounded by secrets and an unexplained grief that haunts the manor, Li Du cannot distract himself from memories he s tried to leave behind. As he discovers irrefutable evidence of the painter s murder and pieces together the dark circumstances of his death, Li Du must face the reason he will not go home and, ultimately, the reason why he must."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-07-11
- Reviewer: Staff
Hart seamlessly melds the complex politics of 18th-century Asia with a superior fair-play plot in her second whodunit featuring Chinese librarian Li Du (after 2015’s Jade Dragon Mountain). Li Du, whose successful solution of a high-stakes murder in the previous book ended his political disgrace, has chosen a nomadic existence that lands him with a commercial caravan traveling in the Tibetan mountains, where his group encounters the eerie spectacle of a dead monk on a bridge. The monk, later identified as Dhamo, a painter who lived in a nearby temple, has the image of a white mirror painted on his face. Li Du astutely deduces that Dhamo was murdered, based on something missing from his studio. The sleuth assiduously probes the potential motives of his fellow guests at the manor where the travelers take shelter, among them a visiting dignitary and a Capuchin. The isolated and eerie manor setting is reminiscent of a classic golden age puzzle mystery, and Hart populates it with well-rounded characters. Agent: Stephanie Cabot, Gernert Company. (Sept.)