This book was recommended by my favourite mystery author, Louise Penny, as one of her favourites, and I thought it was a great read.
It's a true mystery, not a thriller, not suspense, but a true mystery, set in 1708 China. Our hero, a one time imperial librarian, but now an exile, turns detective when he arrives in the last city near the border of Tibet in the midst of preparations for an imperial festival celebrating a solar eclipse. The celebrations including the presence of the emperor who is believed to command the eclipse.
There's a murder, a Jesuit astronomer, and there are many suspects. The plot is a little twisty turny, plenty enough to keep me turning page after page, enjoying multiple surprises. I had my suspicions about the murderer, but I was never really certain until the reveal. And even then there was more to the story! And, I'm happy to say, the wind-up was quite satisfying to me.
The writing is good. I enjoy the way it brought me into the story and created a great sense of atmosphere. And the characters were well rounded and easy to relate to and I really liked the ones I was supposed to like. Enough that I already have the second Li Du book on my wishlist.
So... excellent, classic mystery! Thanks for the rec, Mme Penny!