Huang Liu-Hong and A Complete Book Concerning Happiness and Benevolence

In my modern Chinese detective novel The Willow Woman, a real-life magistrate from the 17th Century, Huang Liu-Hong, makes an appearance, albeit fleetingly. A legal hero for my fictional public prosecutor Xu Ya, Huang is famous for writing the instructional manual for magistrates ‘A Complete Book Concerning Happiness and Benevolence’, which became a standard reference […]

To the memory of Judge Falcone

I have already stated that one of the inspirations for the character of Magistrate Zhu was the character of the honest judge Song Jiang from the Song Dynasty novel The Outlaws of the Marsh (The Water Margin). However, there were real-life inspirations as well, notably Judge Falcone and Magistrate Huang Liu-Hong. I will speak about […]

The Washing Away of Wrongs

The spiritual fathers of modern forensic medicine are considered to be the Renaissance greats Fortunato Fedele (1550 – 1630) and Paolo Zacchia (1584 – 1659). Fedele produced his De Relationibus Medicorum in 1602, thereby developing the concept of medical legal testimony in court, and Zacchia published his masterpiece Quaestiones Medico-Legales in seven volumes from between […]

Earl Derr Biggars – A Tribute

In April 1920, suffering from overwork, the author, playwright and former journalist Earl Derr Biggars obeyed his doctor’s orders and arrived in Waikiki, Hawaii for an extended holiday. When checking in to the beachfront cottage, he asked for the key, only to be told, “What key?” He had just discovered that in 1920s Waikiki no […]

Robert van Gulik and the Judge Dee Mysteries

In 1949, while Political Advisor to his country’s Military Mission in Japan, the Dutch diplomat and scholar Robert van Gulik independently published a translation of an 18th Century Chinese detective novel by an anonymous author entitled ‘Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee’ (Di Gong’an). Unable to conduct his usual scholarly researches due to the pressures of […]

The Chinese Detective Story

In the West we consider the first true detective story to be Edgar Allen Poe’s short story ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’, which was published in 1841, and the first mystery novel to be The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins published in 1868 – though some argue for The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Felix […]

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