cover image The White Mirror

The White Mirror

Elsa Hart. Minotaur, $25.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-250-07496-6

Hart seamlessly melds the complex politics of 18th-century Asia with a superior fair-play plot in her second whodunit featuring Chinese librarian Li Du (after 2015’s Jade Dragon Mountain). Li Du, whose successful solution of a high-stakes murder in the previous book ended his political disgrace, has chosen a nomadic existence that lands him with a commercial caravan traveling in the Tibetan mountains, where his group encounters the eerie spectacle of a dead monk on a bridge. The monk, later identified as Dhamo, a painter who lived in a nearby temple, has the image of a white mirror painted on his face. Li Du astutely deduces that Dhamo was murdered, based on something missing from his studio. The sleuth assiduously probes the potential motives of his fellow guests at the manor where the travelers take shelter, among them a visiting dignitary and a Capuchin. The isolated and eerie manor setting is reminiscent of a classic golden age puzzle mystery, and Hart populates it with well-rounded characters. Agent: Stephanie Cabot, Gernert Company. (Sept.)