In the third installment of Robert Van Gulik's classic ancient Chinese mystery series based on historical court records, magistrate, lawyer, and detective Judge Dee has his work cut out for him. Set in 666 A.D., in the hidden city of Han-yuan, sixty miles from the imperial capital of ancient China, Dee is sent to investigate a case of embezzlement of government funds. But things are about to get more complicated for the great detective. Just before he is about to take leave of Han-yuan, the popular courtesan Almond Blossom disappears, and then a bride who dies on her wedding night also disappears from her coffin her body replaced with that of a murdered man. To make matters worse, Judge Dee is confronted with the dangerous sect called the White Lotus.