The Golden Hairpin

Written by Alex Woodend (trans.) Qinghan CeCe
Review by Viviane Crystal

Huang Zixia is a remarkable young Chinese woman with a penchant for solving complex murder mysteries; a skill she has displayed since she was a child in ancient China. She’s now in exile, having been accused of poisoning her family to escape an unwanted marriage. She’s determined to discover the true killer and seek revenge. But circumstances interfere when she meets Prince Li Shubai, an enigmatic personality attracted to her. For his own reasons, he decides to help her solve the mystery as well as another involving a serial killer. This storyline begins when Li Shubai chooses a bride to be, a pretty woman who suddenly disappears from the court and eventually winds up dead. Li Shubai convinces Huang Zixia that to help figure out the mystery, she needs to disguise herself as a court eunuch. She settles into this role quickly and effectively.

The clues are artfully placed, with none of the annoying repetition that frequently belabors crime novels. The reader gets so involved in the mystery that one doesn’t really care if it is ultimately solved, but instead just enjoys the puzzle parts of the plot. Huang Zixia and Li Shubai become closer as they unravel a plot about rebel forces determined to overthrow the royal family. Huang Zixia has more power than an ordinary eunuch of her class but seems to escape the normal intrigues of those dependent on both rulers and other eunuchs for their advancement and success. The Golden Hairpin is a finely crafted historical mystery certain to engage and satisfy all readers. This is the first of a series, so there’s more to come and enjoy!