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Judge Dee, Chinese Detective

ancient painting of Judge Dee (Di Renjie) in blue              short history

XVIIIth Century novel

novels by Robert van Gulik

novels by Frédéric Lenormand

novels by other authors

stageplays, movies, other media


          Long before Western writers had even conceived the idea of writing detective stories, the Chinese had developed a long tradition of literary works that chronicled the cases of important district magistrates. These judges held a unique position: at once judge and detective, responsible for all aspects of keeping the peace and for discovering, capturing and punishing criminals. One of the most celebrated historical magistrates was Judge Dee, who lived in the VIIth Century A.D.

            The real person of Judge Dee [Di Renjie, c. 630-c. 700] lived in the T'ang Dynasty of Ancient China, and was the subject of folk tales written down around 1500 AD and of the "Di Gong An (Tales of Judge Dee)" novel of the XVIIIth Century. Dutch Diplomat Robert van Gulik [1920-67] translated that document during World War II, and followed with 16 original Judge Dee books.
            French author Frédéric Lenormand has written a series of Judge Dee novels not yet available in English. The Hong Kong martial arts epic "Detective Dee and The Mystery of The Phantom Flame" was released in 2010 in China and elsewhere, and in the U.S.A. in September 2011. The 'prequel' "Young Detective Dee: Rise of The Sea Dragon" followed in September 2013.

flag of pre-1912 dynastic China    The XVIIIth Century Original    flag of pre-1912 dynastic China

historical Judge Dee  [Di Renjie, c. 630-c. 700]
official? website {in Chinese}Wikipedia

Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee book translated by Robert van Gulik  "Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee" [1949] translated by Robert van Gulik
Three intertwined stories: "The Case of The Double Murder At Dawn", "The Case of The Strange Corpse", and "The Case of The Poisoned Bride". Dee is the newly-appointed Magistrate of Chang-ping in the Province of Shantung; he has four lieutenants on staff: Sgt. Hoong, Chiao Tai, Ma Joong, and Tao Gan
Dover Publns pb [6/76] for $8.95

Judge Dee Novels by Robert van Gulik

Robert Hans van Gulik  [1910-67]
all booksIMDb listingWikipedia

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"The Chinese Maze Murders" [circa 670; 1957] written in 1950, published in Japanese in 1951

"The Chinese Bell Murders" [circa 668; 1958] written between 1953 and 1956

"The Chinese Gold Murders" [circa 663; 1959]

"The Chinese Lake Murders" [circa 666; 1960]

"The Chinese Nail Murders" [circa 676; 1961]

"The Haunted Monastery" [circa 667; 1961]

"The Emperor's Pearl" [circa 668; 1963]

"The Lacquer Screen" [circa 664; 1964]

"The Red Pavilion" [circa 668; 1964]

"The Monkey and The Tiger" [1965]
short stories "The Morning of The Monkey" [circa 667] and "The Night of The Tiger" [circa 676]

"The Willow Pattern" [circa 677; 1965]

"Murder In Canton" [circa 681; 1966]

"The Phantom of The Temple" [circa 670; 1966]

"Judge Dee At Work" [8 stories 1967]
includes "The Coffins of The Emperor" [circa 672], "Five Auspicious Clouds" [circa 664], "He Came With The Rain"
[circa 663], "Murder On New Year's Eve" [circa 674], "The Murder On The Lotus Pond" [circa 666], "The Red
Tape Murders" [circa 663], "The Two Beggers" [circa 668], and "The Wrong Sword" [circa 668]

"Necklace and Calabash" [circa 668; 1967]

"Poets and Murder" [circa 669; 1968]

Judge Dee Novels by Frédéric Lenormand
Frédéric Lenormand Bibliographie at Amazon.FR
Frédéric Lenormand entry at French-language Wikipedia
Juge Ti entry at French-language Wikipedia

Judge Dee Fiction by Other Authors

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Court of The Lion novel by Eleanor Cooney & Daniel Altieri  "The Court of The Lion: A Novel of The T'Ang Dynasty" [1988]
by Eleanor Cooney & Daniel Altieri

Not a tale of Judge Dee, but rather a well-reviewed novel of the same time-frame, about intrigues among Lady Wu, weak Emperor Tang Minghuang, beautiful consort Yang Guifei, barbarian An Lushan, evil Prime Minister Lin Lin-fu, Chief Eunuch Kao Li-Shih, the Yang sisters, and other members of the VIIIth Century Imperial Chinese court.
Kindle Edition from Buchanan & Li [3/2011] for $7.99
Avon mass pb [4/90] out of print/many, many used
William Morrow 9¼x6 hardcover [12/88] out of print/used
Deception In Ancient China novel by Eleanor Cooney & Daniel Altieri  "Deception: A Novel of Mystery and Murder In Ancient China" [1993]
by Eleanor Cooney & Daniel Altieri

Magistrate Dee discovers the truth of the numerous murders that Madame Wu Tse-tien has committed as she seeks to replace the ancient T'ang dynasty with her own Chou dynasty thru magic, superstition, corruption, and deceit.
Avon mass pb [7/94] out of print/many, many used
William Morrow hardcover [5/93] out of print/used
retitled "Iron Empress"
Kindle Edition from Buchanan & Li [6/2011] for $5.99

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Tales of Judge Dee book by Zhu Xiao Di  
"Tales of Judge Dee" [stories circa 669 AD; 2006]
by Chinese-American author Zhu Xiao Di

Kindle Edition from iUniverse [2006 edition] for $3.03
iUniverse 9x6 pb [2/2006] for $13.95
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"La Dernière Enquète du Juge Ti" [circa 675; 2008]
by French author Sven Roussel ISBN 9782953220605

"Detective Dee and The Mystery of The Phantom Flame" [2010]
Chinese-language novelization by Lin Qianyu ISBN 9787538548594

Stageplays, Movies, Other Media
Robert van Gulik's credits at Internet Movie Database

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Judge Dee" mini-series
[Granada Television April-May 1969]
Judge Dee mini-series from Granada Television  six hour-long b&w episodes: "Traitors In High Places", "A Place of Great Evil", "The Haunted Pavilion", "A Festival of Death", "The Day of The Scavengers", and "The Curse of The Lacquer Screen" Produced by Howard Baker; directed by Howard Baker & Richard Doubleday; written by John Wiles; starring Michael Goodliffe, Penny Casdagli, Arne Gordon, Susan Lefton, Garfield Morgan, Pamela Roland, Norman Scace & David Ashton
DVD/Blu-ray not available • credits at IMDb

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Judge Dee and The Monastery Murders"
TV movie [ABC-TV 1974]
Judge Dee and The Monastery Murders TV movie on ABC-TV  While on a journey with his three wives, Magistrate Dee stops overnight at a Taoist monastery. He soon discovers that the former abbot died of unnatural causes; several more deaths follow before Dee uncovers the killer. Produced by Gerald Isenberg; based on the novel "The Haunted Monastery", script credited to Nicholas Meyer & Robert van Gulik; starring Khigh Dhiegh {as Judge Dee}, with an all-Asian cast including Mako, Soon-Tek Oh, Keye Luke, Miiko Taka, Irene Tsu, Susie Elene, Beverly Kushida, Ching Hocson, Yuki Shimoda, Robert Sadang & James Hong; nominated for an Edgar Award for Best Television Feature Script
DVD/Blu-ray not available • full credits at IMDb

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Detective Dee and The Mystery of The Phantom Flame"
[Huayi Brothers Hong Kong Sept 2010, Indomina USA Sept 2011]
Korean poster for "Detective Dee and The Mystery of The Phantom Flame" movie  "Inspired by the incredible true story of one of the T'ang Dynasty's most celebrated officials." Wu Zetian is the most powerful woman in China, and about to be crowned Empress of China, but a series of bizarre murders at the Imperial Palace threatens the future of her dynasty. She implores formerly-exiled detective Dee Renjie to solve the crime before her coronation, and appoints him Chief Judge of the Empire. Directed by Tsui Hark & stunt director Sammo Hung; starring Andy Lau, Carina Lau, Li Bing Bing, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Chao Deng, Richard Ng, Teddy Robin Kwan, Lu Yao & Jinshan Liu; won six Hong Kong Film Awards
Indomina widescreen color Chinese w/subtitles Blu-ray [12/2011] for $7.47
Indomina widescreen color Chinese w/subtitles DVD [12/2011] for $13.14
full credits at IMDbmovie entry at Wikipediaofficial movie site {shut down 2014}official trailer [2:13]
watch full movie (English subtitles) online [1:58:44] at YouTube
Chinese-language novelization [2010] by Lin Qianyu
North China Women & children Publng House 9¼x6½ pb [7/2011] for $16.99

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon"
aka "Di Renjie: Shen Du Long Wang" [Huayi Brothers Sept 2013]
Chinese poster for "Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon" movie  The first case of Dee Renjie of the Imperial Police Force is the assignment to investigate reports of a sea monster terrorizing the Imperial Capital, which reveals a sinister conspiracy of treachery and betrayal, leading to the highest reaches of the Imperial family.
Co-produced, co-written & directed by Tsui Hark; starring Mark Chao {as Dee}, 'AngelaBaby' Yeung Wing, Carina Lau, Kun Chen, Shaofeng Feng, Dong Hu, Bum Kim & Kenny Lin
Well Go USA widescreen color Blu-ray [2/2014] for $12.60
Well Go USA widescreen color DVD [2/2014] for $11.66
full credits at IMDbmovie entry at Wikipediaofficial trailer [2:34]

L i n k s
Robert van Gulik's credits at Internet Movie Database
official? Judge Dee website {in Chinese}
Judge Dee entry at Wikipedia

MH's van Gulik/Dee fansite: Dutch languageEnglish language
French-language Juge Ti fansite
Juge Ti entry at French-language Wikipedia

Blackhat Mystery Bookstore's 'Judge Dee, Chinese Detective' Page

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