by Amanda Roberts
When one of the Empress's ladies-in-waiting is killed in the Forbidden City, she orders Inspector Gong to find the killer. Unfortunately, as a man, he is forbidden from entering the Inner Court. How is he supposed to solve a murder when he cannot visit the scene of the crime or talk to the women in the victim's life? He won't be able to solve this crime alone.
The widowed Lady Li is devastated when she finds out about the murder of her sister-in-law, who was serving as the Empress's lady-in-waiting. She is determined to discover who killed her, even if it means assisting the rude and obnoxious Inspector Gong and going undercover in the Forbidden City.
Together, will Lady Li and Inspector Gong be able to find the murderer before he - or she - strikes again?
Readers who enjoy historical mysteries by authors such as Victoria Thompson, Deanna Raybourn, and Anne Perry are sure to love this exciting start to a new series by Amanda Roberts.
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“Inspector,” the empress finally said, silencing the room. “Are you saying you think I could be in danger?”
“I do not know, Your Majesty,” he said. “But I can rule nothing out. I do not know if Lady Yun was the target of the killer’s rage or if she only got in the way. I do not know if the killer has fled or if he, or she, is within this very room.” Another round of gasps followed. “What I do know,” he continued, “is that this investigation should be the court’s priority, and to do my job properly, to bring the killer to justice, I need to be allowed into the Inner Court of the women.”
The empress opened her mouth to speak, but she was interrupted by a court minister by the name of Song. “No!” he said firmly. “It is forbidden and improper. You cannot violate the sacred space of the women’s quarters. To do so would be as violating the women themselves.”
“Minister,” Inspector Gong nearly laughed. “Investigating a murder would hardly be the same as taking a woman to bed…at least in my case.” Several of the other men laughed.
“This is no laughing matter,” Minister Song erupted. “If you cannot do your job from outside of the Inner Court, then you are not worthy of your title and should be stripped of your rank and salary immediately!”
“Now, see here, Minister…” the inspector began.
“I agree,” another minister interrupted. “Is his job worth doing if it violates the integrity of the empress?”
Several other men spoke up in agreement.
“Enough,” the empress finally said, her voice clear and even. The room went quiet. She was calm now. Even her hands were steady. “I agree this case should be of the utmost importance. My own safety and the safety of the emperor rely on it.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty,” Inspector Gong replied.
“However,” she continued, “we cannot allow this killer, whoever he is, disrupt our lives and the way things are done. Tradition and court procedure are at the very center of the throne and the country. I have to agree with the ministers. You cannot be allowed to enter the Inner Court, Inspector.”
“So you will allow a killer to go free?” he asked. “Allow a murderer to perhaps roam your very halls?”
“No,” she said. “You will find the killer. And you will do so quickly to ensure that my son is safe. You will have everything you need at your disposal, but you will do so from outside the Inner Court.”
Amanda Roberts is a writer and editor who has been living in China since 2010. Amanda has an MA in English from the University of Central Missouri. She has been published in magazines, newspapers, and anthologies around the world and she regularly contributes to numerous blogs. Amanda can be found all over the Internet, but her home is TwoAmericansinChina.com.
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