Thursday, February 8, 2018

Deadly Relations

Hong Shu-chang has spent his life studying and memorizing the Confucian canons in order to pass the third level examination to become a magistrate in China.  In Deadly Relations by P.A. De Voe, the reader takes a look back at the Ming Dynasty era in China.

Farms are inherited by families and the successive generations work the land and continue the traditions of their grandparents. In his case, Shu-chang's father toiled the fields and his son studied and studied. While waiting for the results of the second examination, Shu-chang is notified that his father and uncle have been murdered by bandits and he must return home to mourn and discover the killers.

When he arrives home, he realizes his father had turned the title of his land to Master Gao in order to have him shelter the land against taxes, but the arrangement was between his father, not him, and Master Gao wants the land.

Forlorn and wondering where he would go and what he would do, his mother's brother Uncle Xin
offers him a position as a teacher in his clan's school away from his hometown. When he arrives there he finds himself and his family embroiled in another situation.

The Emperor's warehouse has been burned down. Is it arson or something more? When Shu-chang's young cousin is accused of the crime, he knows this will be dangerous for his entire clan, so he sets out to discover who is responsible. In the meantime, he learns he passed the second exam with the highest grade and he is just a step away from his dream.

Unfortunately Chinese law is harsh when someone in the family is found guilty and Shu-chang needs to work extra hard to discover who has caused the fire. With his cousin Xiang-hua, a young woman training as a doctor, he discovers who is to blame.

An interesting study in a civilization few people know about. Excellent book.

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