Elas Hart’s new Li Du novel, City of Ink, finds the 18th Century librarian’s return to Beijing to uncover the murderer of his mentor. With sidekick storyteller Hamza by his side, Li Du investigates when two bodies are found in a tile factory.

The period details add to the richness of the story as the idea of crime of passion doesn’t sit well with Li Du. For the second victim is the factory owner’s wife, and their supposed secret meeting led to their murders by her jealous husband.

Now a lowly secretary to the Chief Inspector, Li Du finds the husband refusing to confess to the murders. While admitting he was drunk that night, he has no memory of killing either victim.

It’s a twisted path he follows that will lead him to corruption of the highest order, with the future of thousands of Chinese in the balance.

Even his own past will come under scrutiny, which brings Li Du under the microscope and endangers his own well-being.

Hart’s research shows, in the way she brings this era to life, in the texture and colors and sights and sounds of a bygone time that seem just around the corner under her talented pen. Her characters are as well-woven as a Chinese silk tapestry.

There are enough twists and turns for any experienced mystery writer, but there is so much more here than that puzzle that keeps readers flipping pages. An accomplished addition to a satisfying historic series.

And if you enjoy historicals, Steve Berry’s The Lost Order is new in paperback. Gold from a secret Civil War society plays a role when it comes to light the secrets of the Knights of the Golden Circle, still operating, might be revealed. Cotton and his team find themselves racing around the US to piece together the plot that would cause disaster to the country.

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