The Lacquer Screen

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The Lacquer Screen
First edition cover
Author Robert van Gulik
Series Judge Dee
Genre Gong'an fiction, Mystery novel, Detective fiction, Chinese crime fiction
Publisher Art Printing Works, Kuala Lumpur
Publication date
Media type Print
Preceded by The Red Pavilion
Followed by The Emperor's Pearl

The Lacquer Screen is a gong'an detective novel written by Robert van Gulik and set in Imperial China (roughly speaking the Tang Dynasty). It is a fiction based on the real character of Judge Dee (Ti Jen-chieh or Di Renjie), a magistrate and statesman of the Tang court, who lived roughly 630–700.

The book features fourteen illustrations by the author.

Plot introduction[edit]

In 663, Judge Dee is the young magistrate in the fictional town of Peng-lai. On a visit to a senior magistrate he is shown a beautiful lacquer screen which is mysteriously altered to show a murder scene instead of a love scene. With the senior magistrate convinced he is going insane, a wealthy banker in town does kill himself, or is it murder? Judge Dee and his faithful servant Chiao Tai go undercover and join a gang of robbers to solve the case.

The town of Peng-lai was the setting for other Judge Dee stories including: The Chinese Gold Murders, and three of the short stories from Judge Dee at Work.