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City of Ink
Cover of City of Ink
City of Ink
Li Du Series, Book 3
by Elsa Hart
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One of 2018's Best Mysteries by Publisher's Weekly
One of the Best Audiobooks to Listen to in October by The Washington Post

"This entry solidifies her status as a top-notch historical mystery author." – Publisher's Weekly (starred review)

"Richly detailed novel of life and crime in 18th century China." –The Wall Street Journal

Following the enthralling 18th century Chinese mysteries Jade Dragon Mountain and White Mirror, comes the next Li Du adventure in City of Ink.

Li Du was prepared to travel anywhere in the world except for one place: home. But to unravel the mystery that surrounds his mentor's execution, that's exactly where he must go.

Plunged into the painful memories and teeming streets of Beijing, Li Du obtains a humble clerkship that offers anonymity and access to the records he needs. He is beginning to make progress when his search for answers buried in the past is interrupted by murder in the present.

The wife of a local factory owner is found dead, along with a man who appears to have been her lover, and the most likely suspect is the husband. But what Li Du's superiors at the North Borough Office are willing to accept as a crime of passion strikes Li Du as something more calculated. As past and present intertwine, Li Du's investigations reveal that many of Beijing's residents — foreign and Chinese, artisan and official, scholar and soldier — have secrets they would kill to protect.

When the threats begin, Li Du must decide how much he is willing to sacrifice to discover the truth in a city bent on concealing it, a city where the stroke of a brush on paper can alter the past, change the future, prolong a life, or end one.

One of 2018's Best Mysteries by Publisher's Weekly
One of the Best Audiobooks to Listen to in October by The Washington Post

"This entry solidifies her status as a top-notch historical mystery author." – Publisher's Weekly (starred review)

"Richly detailed novel of life and crime in 18th century China." –The Wall Street Journal

Following the enthralling 18th century Chinese mysteries Jade Dragon Mountain and White Mirror, comes the next Li Du adventure in City of Ink.

Li Du was prepared to travel anywhere in the world except for one place: home. But to unravel the mystery that surrounds his mentor's execution, that's exactly where he must go.

Plunged into the painful memories and teeming streets of Beijing, Li Du obtains a humble clerkship that offers anonymity and access to the records he needs. He is beginning to make progress when his search for answers buried in the past is interrupted by murder in the present.

The wife of a local factory owner is found dead, along with a man who appears to have been her lover, and the most likely suspect is the husband. But what Li Du's superiors at the North Borough Office are willing to accept as a crime of passion strikes Li Du as something more calculated. As past and present intertwine, Li Du's investigations reveal that many of Beijing's residents — foreign and Chinese, artisan and official, scholar and soldier — have secrets they would kill to protect.

When the threats begin, Li Du must decide how much he is willing to sacrifice to discover the truth in a city bent on concealing it, a city where the stroke of a brush on paper can alter the past, change the future, prolong a life, or end one.

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About the Author-
  • 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.
Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    March 1, 2018

    Cast out to China's far borders, former imperial librarian Li Du finds himself back in Beijing, facing painful memories at every corner as he investigates his mentor's execution. Then he gets distracted by the murder of a factory owner's wife, caught with her putative lover--an explanation Li Du rejects instantly. Next in the 18th century-set series, following the well-received Jade Dragon Mountain and White Mirror.

    Copyright 2018 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from July 2, 2018
    Hart’s superb third novel set in 18th-century China (after 2016’s The White Mirror) finds librarian Li Du back in Beijing after a period of exile. As the secretary to Chief Inspector Sun, he transcribes witness statements and performs other clerical duties. When two bodies are found in a tile factory office with their throats slit, Li Du accompanies his boss to the scene. The victims are Madam Hong, whose husband, Hong, owns the factory, and Pan Yongfa, an employee of the Ministry of Rites, responsible for negotiating contracts with Hong and inspecting the quality of the work being done. The proximity of the corpses to each other leads Sun to suspect that they were discovered in flagrante delicto by Hong, who murdered them in a jealous rage—a motive that under Chinese law serves as an absolute defense. Hong refuses to confess, however, and Li Du, who suspects that the case is much less straightforward than it appears, investigates on his own. As always, Hart excels at making even walk-on characters fully realized and at combining a gripping whodunit plot with a vivid evocation of the period. This entry solidifies her status as a top-notch historical mystery author. Agent: Stephanie Cabot, Gernert Co.

  • Kirkus

    July 15, 2018
    An 18th-century sleuth risks his own safety in his pursuit of justice and the truth.China, 1711. Brilliant former librarian Li Du toils as a clerk in relative obscurity in the North Borough Office in a small designated area of Beijing's Outer City, after having been exiled then pardoned by the emperor. Chief Inspector Sun, knowing of Li Du's reputation as a sleuth, enlists his help in a sensitive case. Two murder victims have been found at the Black Tile Factory: Pan Yongfa, a man employed by the Ministry of Rites, and Madame Hong, the factory owner's wife. Though even Hong suspects adultery, discretion prevents this possibility from being openly discussed. Hong professes innocence of the violent crime, but neither Sun nor his boss, Magistrate Yin, believes him. While Sun attends to other official business, Li Du is tasked with questioning factory employees, including plant manager Hu and the nervous worker who discovered the body. A surprise visitor to the factory that day was Father Louis Aveneau, a recent arrival from France. His explanations to Li Du seem less than forthright, but Aveneau's close relationship with Li Du's childhood mentor, Father Calmette, complicates the issue. Despite his ambivalence, Li Du's patient, incisive probing unearths layers of corruption and an array of suspects.Highly atmospheric and elegantly appointed, this mystery from Hart (The White Mirror, 2016, etc.) shines brightest in her detective's sublime cat-and-mouse interrogations of the gallery of witnesses and suspects. The introverted, intellectual sleuth is a perfect match for most any armchair detective.

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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    St. Martin's Publishing Group
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Li Du Series, Book 3
Elsa Hart
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