The Mandarin Tân is a young and talented emissary of the emperor who has been sent to a remote and small province in North Vietnam to arbitrate disputes and regulate the lives of its inhabitants. Diving into the life and intimacy of this 17th century community, he uses his subtle sense of psychology and shrewd spirit in order to impose his ideal of justice and social equity. However, his work as a representative of imperial authority soon expands outside of the administrative frame and becomes a veritable quest for truth and justice. The adventures of the mandarin are followed one by one in the books of the Tran-Nhut sisters, shedding light on an interesting and complex character. Throughout the three episodes, Tân will have to lead investigations and use his ingenuity to resolve enigmas concerning strange and cruel murders first in the misty mountains of the North, then in the dark world of the 17th century Vietnamese bourgeoisie and finally among the settlers who came to Vietnam to plunder its treasures. These detective novels follow the evolution of a character who isn't rendered insensitive by the various obstacles and adventures he's dealing with and open a door to the customs and habits of the magnificent ancien Vietnamese civilization. Old traditions, changing mores and foreign intrusions through sublte, rich details are brilliantly evoked, constituing a fascinating frame to Tân's investigations.
Also available in the same collection: L'ombre du prince, by Tran-Nhut (Picquier 2000), La poudre noire de maître Hou, by Tran-Nhut (Picquier 2002).