On the mountainous border of China and Tibet in 1708, a detective must learn what a killer already knows: that empires rise and fall on the strength of the stories they tell. Li Du was an imperial librarian. Now he is an exile. Arriving in Dayan, the last Chinese town before the Tibetan border, he is surprised to find it teeming with travelers, soldiers, and merchants. All have come for a spectacle unprecedented in this remote province: an eclipse of the sun commanded by the Emperor himself.
When a Jesuit astronomer is found murdered in the home of the local magistrate, blame is hastily placed on Tibetan bandits. But Li Du suspects this was no random killing. Everyone has secrets: the ambitious magistrate, the powerful consort, the bitter servant, the irreproachable secretary, the East India Company merchant, the nervous missionary, and the traveling storyteller who can't keep his own story straight.
Praise for Jade Dragon Mountain
This debut historical mystery deftly combines ingenious plotting and suspense with a subtle understanding of China, its culture, and its people. The protagonist, Li Du, a librarian and intellectual, is well worth keeping an eye on. - Donna Leon
Jade Dragon Mountain is an amazing book-truly wonderful. Stunning in its atmosphere, setting, the gift of language, and great writing. Elsa Hart and her protagonist, Li Du, deserve a place in every collection. If you like great books, you will love Jade Dragon Mountain. - Louise Penny
ELSA HART was born in Rome, Italy, but her earliest memories are of Moscow, where her family lived until 1991. Since then she has lived in the Czech Republic, the U.S.A., and China. She earned a B.A. from Swarthmore College and a J.D. from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. She wrote Jade Dragon Mountain in Lijiang, the city that has grown up around the old town of Dayan. It is her first novel.