The story starts off slowly and is very convoluted. It takes place in another time and environment (1206, Tsong dynasty, Eastern China) that makes reading this like reading Jane Austin and having to remember it was of a different time and place. I know of the time and events from other histories; however i will have to rely on the author for the customs presented.
We have to suffer through pages of Cí doing ridiculous things and getting into ridiculous situations before he becomes “The Corps Reader” and the story we are reading for begins.
The story is told half be third party narration and half by stilted dialog. Many choppy sentences. The dialog problem could be the translation.
After Cí learns his forensic skills form working for the grave digger and is commissioned by the Imperial court to examine victims of a savage killer for the purpose of identifying him/her this story picks up speed and you finally get involved enough not to mind the stilted dialogue.
At this point a lot of people go on to tell you exactly what you can read on the cover. Sorry, not me. I hadn't read the cover, so I didn't really know to expect a criminal story set in ancient China. Sounds boring? It isn't! Suspense all the way and a lot of interesting facts to boot. The protagonist is someone who seems real, because he's not loveable all the way, but has some annoying impulsiveness about him sometimes. He has normal charcter traits, that make him and the story plausible. I really enjoyed this story a lot.I hope you do too.
During the first half of the book I several times came very close to deleting it...how often can your average hero get out of the frying pan into the fire? After the umpteenth time you stop being sorry for the poor sod and are simply annoyed, especially as the reasoning behind many decisions is not merely alien but downright imbecile. It got better in the second half, though then was a bit too much whodunnit for my taste...not the kind of historical novel I expected, but okay for the 0, 99 € I paid