A quietly enjoyable and complex mystery novel set in pre-modern China. The protagonists are good without being overbearing, and the chapters have a nice variety as they switch between the abstract/intellectual focused Judge Dee, and his lieutenants who are more rough and tumble and handle physical challenges. It reminds me a bit of the Ars Magica RPG in that way. The novel is fairly short (150 pgs), but covers several mysteries and several dozen characters. I enjoyed the social graph it laid out and thinking about the mysteries, most of which I was completely lost on. At least that is until the book started introducing meta-fictional elements. Then I'm like "Ha! I can solve this. I know my way around a plot structure." I didn't quite solve the final problem, as the central crime of the novel isn't really one that makes sense in the modern day, but I was at least close. Overall the novel was pleasant, complex, enjoyable, humorous, and humane (well, for its time; I'm grading on a curve here).