Happy Tuesday my lovelies.  Today I’m absolutely delighted to bring you a review of The Balance of Heaven and Earth, A Magistrate Zhu Mystery by the lovely lovely Laurence Westwood – who has been SO patient with me waiting for this review!  This is a brilliant mystery that you won’t want to put down….AND you’ll totally fall in love with the characters!

the blurb

I have been unable to write a judgement that does not seem to offend my conscience, or indeed Heaven, in some manner. Because I do not wish to influence your thinking unduly, I have destroyed all my personal papers and notes in regard to this dispute, preferring you to start afresh. Forgive me for this. All I ask is that you consider and examine Jade Moon most carefully before coming to a decision. I find her fascinating and unsettling in equal measure, and fear the consequences of a wrongful judgement. I will say no more.

My sincerest best wishes to you and your family,

Magistrate Qian
Fifth District, Chengdu Prefecture
1st day of the 2nd Moon, 1085

So ends the letter of welcome (and of warning) to Magistrate Zhu, newly arrived in the remote border town of Tranquil Mountain. He has travelled far from his extensive family estates on the outskirts of Kaifeng – the glorious Song Dynasty capital – hoping to find atonement for past mistakes.

Yet he quickly discovers that Tranquil Mountain is anything but tranquil. The town is beset with simmering tensions since the death of his predecessor. Before Magistrate Zhu even has time to accustom himself to his inexperienced and wayward constabulary and the lowliness of his new surroundings, there is a mysterious murder, rumours of ghosts and blood-thirsty bandits out on the streets, and a disturbing kidnapping to solve – as well as the tragic and tangled legal circumstances of the local heroine Jade Moon to unravel.

For the balance of Heaven and Earth to be maintained, and to prevent catastrophe coming to Tranquil Mountain, Magistrate Zhu is well aware that not a single injustice can be allowed to stand. As he struggles to reach the correct judgements, he realises he has no choice but to offer up his career and perhaps even his own life for the greater good. And, in so doing, he discovers that as Jade Moon’s fate rests in his hands, so his fate ultimately rests in hers.

Where to buy: Amazon

my review

In 11th Century China, Tranquil Mountain has recently experienced the death of their Magistrate and have been waiting sometime for a new one to arrive.  Magistrate Zhu arrives but within days there is a murder; an unsolved local dispute and then a kidnapping!  As well as all of this, Magistrate Zhu has to get used to his band of constables…..questionably recruited by his predecessor and the unusual practices that happen in the town.  As well as the towns very strange obsession with tea!

Jade Moon is a girl who has lived in the town since she was 12, and has recently become a local heroine.  However there is an outstanding case involving her that Magistrate Zhu must complete.  But when he meets her he realises that there is something about her – she is as mysterious as the townsfolk say….

But will he do the right thing and make the right decision? Will he solve the murder? And will the townsfolk, who are wary of him, come to love him as much as Magistate Qian? You’ll have to read this to find out!

This was a brilliantly, different mystery.  I loved the fact that it was set in 11th Century China (history geek that I am!!) and that I got to learn lots about Chinese law and practices.  I absolutely love the characters and that we get to learn about each of them and their pasts.  Magistate Zhu is amazing and Jade Moon is a strong and independent amazing woman!  The Constables are hilarious, they’re so unique and mostly have no idea what they’re doing in the beginning!! I’s fantastic watching their characters grow from strength to strength, and it’s so nice to learn about each of them and their pasts so you can really get to know them.  I’m hoping I’ll catch up with them all again in a book 2!

On that note, we’re left on a little bit of cliffhanger…..there’s something developing and I really want to know where it goes!!

I would say in the beginning it was a bit of a challenge to get used to who was who as the characters have long or strange names, but you do get used to it and then I honestly couldn’t put it down! I couldn’t wait to get home from work to finish it!  The story is fantastic! It’s really well written, thoroughly enjoyable and has some great humour in it.  Another one definitely recommended by me.  If you love a mystery, and fancy something a little different, then give this a go – you won’t regret it!



about the author

Graduating from the University of York with a (probably ill-advised) degree in Theoretical Physics, Laurence commenced upon a varied career in law enforcement and management consultancy. After a few years with Birmingham Trading Standards where he specialised in anti-competitive practices investigations, he led an investigation team for the software industry tasked with intellectual property enforcement across the United Kingdom as well as the provision of training in computer law and computer forensics to all UK law enforcement authorities and the military. In 2001, he set up his own management consultancy firm providing training and advice to both the public and private sectors on legal risk and information security. He regularly lectures at the University of Warwick on computer law and IP enforcement. He has had a long-standing fascination with the political, military, social and legal history of China. He lives just outside of Stratford-upon-Avon.

Where to find Laurence online:  Website ~ Twitter

A massive thank you to Laurence for sending me a copy of his book – the illustration on the front is wonderful! And thank you to the publisher too for providing me with a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

If you read this too, I would love to hear what you think; and if you have any questions for Laurence then get in touch.

Have a wonderful day all!
Chelle x

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