Mind Game: Writing Historical Crime Fiction
The Road to Perdition
I never dreamt of writing, especially writing historical crime fiction. I grew up loving science and eventually became a mechanical engineer. Life was good and easy back then. I thought it would go on forever. But I have a sister.
When we were kids, we’d give each other dares for the fun of it. “I dare you to learn to ride a bike before dinner”, “I dare you to have a piano teacher teach you to play Asturias on the guitar”. In 1999, Kim came up with: “I dare you to write a crime novel set in 17th-century Viet-Nam”. I dared her to do it with me. It was a perfect challenge: we were both scientists with no background whatsoever in creative writing. Any experience with dialogues? No. A lifelong love of history? Not even close. But we liked the same movies and read the same books, and we knew how to conduct research. So we gave it a go.
Our book, Le Temple de la Grue écarlate (Temple of the Scarlet Crane), was accepted and published by Philippe Picquier who was quick to realise that nobody had ever written a crime novel with such a setting. Since we received good reviews, we wrote a second book the following year. The idea for a third book germinated rapidly. But by then, Kim claimed that she had no time to devote to the series, so we built a plot together and I took care of the writing. From then on, I worked alone. So far, there are eight novels, several of which have been translated into Italian, Russian, German, Spanish and Japanese.
The main character of the series is a mandarin (a judge), inspired by our great-grandfather, a mandarin himself. He was a brilliant young man who had succeeded in the imperial exams and subsequently became the family legendary figure. He actually lived in the late 19th century, but we decided to set the novels in the 17th century.
Why the 17th century? Because it was a time of generalised conflicts.
The country was plunged into political turmoil when the Emperor of Dai-Viet, as Viet-Nam was called in the 17th century, revealed himself as a weak ruler. Two lords, Lord Trinh from the North and Lord Nguyen from the South, vied for the control of the empire. This political contention represented a critical violation of Confucianism, the doctrine embraced by Dai-Viet. The teachings of Confucius state that the Emperor, having received the Mandate of Heaven, is to be the regarded as the undisputed monarch. This system, meant to ensure the stability of the state, was thus being blatantly breached by the two ambitious lords.
In addition to this political crisis, there was an economic crisis. With the creation of the Dutch East India Company in the 17th century, new trade patterns emerged as well-armed ships roamed the area in hopes of establishing trading posts. The Dutch aimed to lead the spice trade with Indonesia. They engaged in fierce competition with the Portuguese and Spanish traders, already very active in the region. The Dutch traded silk from Dai-Viet for silver from Japan, as they needed this silver to buy Indian textiles, which they exchanged for Indonesian spices.
However, this thriving maritime trade seldom benefited the local producers, since corrupt mandarins inserted themselves into the process and demanded a substantial share. As a result, the local economy was totally thrown off balance and tensions arose within a population under duress.
Men in Black
A third crisis added to the already explosive situation: a religious crisis. Traders from Europe were not the only foreigners at large. Christian missionaries quite intent on converting the local population had also set foot on the territory. At the beginning of the 17th century, Matteo Ricci was invited to become an advisor to the Imperial Court in China where he gained much esteem thanks to his knowledge in the sciences. As the Jesuits began to acquire influence, they decided to head South - to Dai-Viet.
So far, three major currents of thought coexisted peacefully in Dai-Viet: Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. In the teachings of Confucius, a person is not considered as an individual per se, but is defined by his relationship to other members of the society. Thus a man must respect his parents, his teachers and, above all, his Emperor. Confucianism places the well-being of society above that of an individual. On the contrary, Taoism favours the individual over society, as it tries to harmoniously connect Man to the Universe.
As strange as it might seem, a Viet could embrace all three currents at once. As a Confucian, he would honor his ancestors at the family shrine. But this didn’t stop him from going to the Taoist temple to pray for financial success to the goddess of Fortune. And if he had some spare time in the evening, he would worship Buddha for good measure. The arrival of a new faith – monotheistic and exclusive – wreaked havoc in the religious landscape.
This historical situation, fraught with conflicts, provides a particularly exciting framework: a society in the midst of massive mutation, with the arrival of foreigners creating economic and religious strains in an already crumbling political edifice.
For a writer of crime fiction, it is an ideal setting because distraught characters faced with brutal changes in their lifestyles and beliefs have plenty of motivation to commit heinous acts that are directly linked to the historical backdrop. More than that, their actions must be justified by the historical context, so that the choice of the time period is not considered as a mere pretext.
With this time frame in mind, what are my favourite themes?
Masters of the Universe
First of all, since it is unfamiliar to many readers, I often present the different facets of Confucianism and Taoism, philosophical doctrines founded by Confucius and Lao-Tzu, who both lived in the 6th century B.C.
We have seen that Confucianism places the well-being of society above that of man and is based on a hierarchical system.
In all homes, there are altars for worshipping one’s ancestors. However, the rites connected to this ancestor reverence can only be performed by a male descendant, hence the importance of having a son. It is interesting to delve into this male-dominated culture and our first novel examines the perversions of a society bent on producing only sons at the expense of daughters.
Taoists, following the teachings of Lao-Tzu, placed man above society. Taoists aspired to link Man, the Microcosm, to the Universe, the Macrocosm. They established a system called the Five Elements which consisted of connecting the five elements in nature (Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal) to the five internal organs of a man (Kidney, Liver, Heart, Spleen, Lungs). This correlation allowed them to explain the interactions between different organs and treat ailments. They also linked to the Five Elements the five cardinal directions (East, West, North, South, Center), the five colors (Green, Red, Yellow, White, Black), as well as the five flavours (Bitter, Sweet, Salty, Sour, Acrid). From these combinations, they determined a way of achieving harmony in various areas.
For example, because Green is linked to the Sour flavour and to the Liver, someone with a greenish complexion and a craving for sour foods would be diagnosed as having a dysfunctioning liver. In music, the Five Elements system gave rise to the pentatonic scale.
Thus the Five Elements system was applied to all sorts of areas: medicine, music and even martial arts.
The Usual Suspects
To embody the theoretical opposition between Confucianism and Taoism, my sister and I created two characters: Mandarin Tan, who is a pure creature of Confucianism since he went through the imperial exams which are the basis of Confucian education. He is therefore bound to the Emperor, in spite of the weakness of the current monarch. He excels at logic and does not act on whims.
On the contrary, his friend, Scholar Dinh, is a Taoist who did poorly on the imperial exams, being too unruly to comply with Confucian standards. He is impulsive, imaginative and critical of the Confucian ideal, which makes him a good counterpoint to the mandarin. His conflicting insights often give Mandarin Tan a new angle during his investigations.
These two characters allow me to highlight not only the differences between Confucianism and Taoism, but also another theme that is central to the novels: Justice.
When he starts out as a young magistrate, Mandarin Tan is dead sure that Confucianism is the only valid philosophy, in spite of the fact that two lords are competing for the control of the country and downplaying the Emperor. Although he is inflexible in his beliefs, his personal situation is fraught with contradictions: he’s born in the South, whereas the Emperor rules with the aid of Lord Trinh of the North. He also comes from a family of peasants, a class burdened with heavy taxes exacted by corrupt mandarins – his colleagues. This internal conflict will take its toll and give rise to doubts and illusions.
As the series unfolds and he is confronted with villains who question the system, Mandarin Tan falters in face of evidence: Confucianism in its perverted form is simply not viable. He must ultimately resolve this dilemma: How to mete out justice when the whole system is askew?
The novels are not centered on Dai-Viet. Rather, they aim to explore the ties between Dai-Viet and other countries at the time. For instance: China.
Dai-Viet obviously inherited many concepts from China: Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism. Many of the things I mention about Chinese civilisation apply equally to Viet-Nam because China dominated the country for a thousand years (approximately from 100 B.C. to 900 A.D.). The history of Viet-Nam is a strewn with wars of independence that allow me to write about mythical battles that all Viets are familiar with.
One such battle takes place in 938, as the Chinese attempt to invade Viet-Nam. The Chinese fleet outranks the Vietnamese one in both number and size. Vietnamese General Ngo Quyen anticipates that the Chinese will ascend the Bach Dang River in order penetrate the Red River delta. This particular river being subject to tides like those of the sea, the general has his men plant sharp stakes with iron tips into the river’s bed, so that they are covered at high tide. Then he lures the Chinese into the mouth of the river and blocks the exit toward the sea. As the tide ebbs, the stakes resurface, impaling the Chinese ships on the spot. The invading army is routed and a new national dynasty is established, with Ngo Quyen as King.
This type of strategy, based on an intimate knowledge of the terrain, reflects the mentality of the Viet. Being a small country with huge natural resources, Viet-Nam has always fallen prey to the appetites of larger countries. Not only those of China, but also of France and of the U.S., later in the course of history. And always, The Viets achieved victory with the only weapon they had: their cleverness. It’s a trait of the Vietnamese character I like to stress as it’s a key to understanding the strategies deployed by the military, but also by Mandarin Tan in his investigations.
The French Connection
The rivalry between the two lords I mentioned earlier will ultimately lead to a civil war between North and South – the first civil war of its kind, that forshadows the better-known one that occurred in the 20th century. After many military campaigns won by either side, the country was formally divided in 1673: Lord Trinh ruled the North, and Lord Nguyen the South. But due to general rampant corruption, a peasant uprising overthrew both lords and the country was reunified under the Tay Son Dynasty in 1778. Ten years later, Lord Nguyen who had been driven out of the empire returned with an army raised by a French Catholic priest, Pigneau de Behaine. With his aid, he regained the control of the country, and established the Nguyen Dynasty in 1802. However, having won thanks to the French, he was forced to acknowledge his debt. The French were allowed to remain on the territory and ended up colonising the country.
This direct connection to the present is fundamental. It is the main reason for setting the novels in the 17th century: the period of colonisation (starting roughly in 1860 and ending in 1954 with the defeat of the French at Dien Bien Phu) is relatively familiar to most people, but the reason why the French were in Viet-Nam in the first place remains largely unknown. One must go back to the political situation in the 17th century to understand how contacts between Viet-Nam and France had been initiated.
Knowing the disastrous outcome of the first civil war, I couldn’t help but wonder if at some point the country could have gone down another path. What if there had been an alternative to the corrupt Lord Trinh and the treacherous Lord Nguyen? Mandarin Tan will encounter nationalists hostile to alliances with foreign nations, but decide not to join their ranks out of loyalty to the Emperor. He will make the wrong choices and face defeat, losing both his ideals and his country.
Empire of the Sun
It was economic interests that fueled the relations between Dai-Viet and Japan. Japan traded with Lord Nguyen of the South. One reason for this proximity was the existing animosity between Japan and China: because they had trouble with Japanese pirates raiding their ships in the 16th century, the Chinese had applied a ban on trade with the Japanese. Since they were desperately in need of raw silk for their court, the Japanese turned to Dai-Viet. It also helped that Tokugawa Ieyasu, appointed Shogun by the Emperor of Japan in 1603, was in good terms with Lord Nguyen Hoang. When Tokugawa Ieyasu promulgated the Shuinsen policy allowing only ships carrying the Tokugawa red seal to trade with foreign countries, many of them set sail to a port called Faifo (known today as Hoi An) in order to exchange silver for raw silk, spices and sandalwood.
As it were, trade between Japan and Dai-Viet was also crucial to the outcome of the war between Lord Trinh and Lord Nguyen. Both lords were intent on acquiring arms for their troops. But while Lord Trinh tried to obtain weapons from the Dutch, Lord Nguyen was in poor terms with them and had to cast his own cannons. The problem was that Dai-Viet had no copper supplies. However, in Japan old copper coins were losing their face value after the introduction of more sophisticated gold and silver coins. So Japanese merchants had the bright idea of acquiring these devalued coins at a low price in Japan and selling them to the Viets for a handsome profit. This allowed Lord Nguyen to come upon a large supply of copper for the casting of his cannons, which gave him a decisive military edge in the end.
But not all is grim, since another theme that appears in my books is Food.
It’s not that I originally intended to give food a prominent role in my historical crime novels, but it turns out that my characters are often caught with chopsticks in their hands. The reason is that Viets have made eating their national sport.
Fresh herbs are widely used to enhance dishes: cilantro, Vietnamese mint, edible chrysanthemum leaves, fish mint, lemongrass, pennywort, sawtooth coriander...
Vietnamese cuisine is known for its numerous soups. The major ones are emblematic of the three regions of the country. Hanoi, up North, is famous for her rice noodle soup, called pho, a light broth with slices of rare beef, lime, basil, bean sprouts and cilantro. Hue, at the Center of the country, is connected to bun bo, rice vermicelli in a richer beef broth, reddish in color from the use of paprika. The main flavor comes from lemongrass, sawtooth coriander, marinated beef shanks and pig knuckles. The South is known for yet another sort of soup, hu tieu, where shrimps are thrown in with ground pork, pork sausage and dried calamari. The broth is flavored by chunks of ginger, fish sauce and bean sprouts.
Because they become more sophisticated as one moves South, these three soups reflect the topography of the country: poor and arid in the North, a bit richer in the Center and flamboyant in the South, thanks to the fertile Mekong Delta.
Sweet soups illustrate the variety of plants and fruits available in the area. They can contain yellow mung beans, red beans, jack fruit, lychees, longans, crushed ice, coconut milk, pandanus juice and gelatin strands made of agar-agar, a seaweed, dyed flashy pink and green.
Viets are fearless when it comes to eating. In addition to the run-of-the-mill chicken, beef and pork, they can be quite tempted by turtle meat, snakes, field mice and also dogs. Viets represent a threat to biodiversity, craving especially endangered species: mouse deer, monitor lizards, sambar deer, white-handed gibbons, bear paws, pangolin scales.
Food appears in the novels not only for local colour, it also helps to demonstrate the diversity of the fauna and flora of the country.
The Constant Gardener
Plants and animals are not only meant for the cooking pot. They are also widely used for medical purposes.
Traditional medicine is one of my favourite themes. Taoists were particularly intent on connecting Man to the Universe. They devoted themselves to the study of plants, animals, minerals and metals. They compiled relentlessly their properties in order to manufacture drugs and herbal remedies.
Herbs were also prescribed for specific ailments. Fish mint treats stomach aches and swelling, citronella brewed in tea relieves tension and serves as an insect repellent; pennywort relieves arthritis and cures nervous conditions; sawtooth coriander in tea stimulates appetite and soothes stomach pain.
Although their findings were empirical, it turns out that plants Taoists prescribed for certain ailments contained active ingredients that have been proven to be effective by modern science. Epimedium sagittatum, called horny goat weed or yin yang huo in Chinese, was used as an aphrodisiac. But it was shown to activate blood circulation in the penile artery and actually contains icariin, that works like sildenafil cítrate – also known as Viagra.
What’s New Pussycat?
I am mainly interested in the development of medicine in Asia, because it is something often overlooked by the West, in spite of the tremendous advance China had in that matter.
Diabetes, which the Chinese called dissolving thirst, was treated with berberine, a bitter herb, which has recently been proven to lower glucose levels in humans and animals. The sweet taste of urine led the Chinese to investigate its properties and discover in 200 B.C., thanks to its white crystal deposits, that urine from an old woman is different from that of a pregnant one. This constitutes the first-ever extraction of hormones from urine, something that was performed in the Western World only in 1927. It has now become the standard technique for harvesting estrogen.
Another example is smallpox inoculation in 1000 A.D.: the son of a Chinese statesman was said to have been inoculated against smallpox, probably by having powder from pulverised smallpox scabs blown into his nostril. Inoculation may also have been practiced by scratching matter from a smallpox sore into the skin.
In my novels, Doctor Pork, who has a brilliant mind and reckless eating habits, makes use the medical knowledge of the time in order to help Mandarin Tan solve cases of violent death. He relies on a manual on forensics called Hsi yuan chi lu (The Washing away of Wrongs), written in the 13th century by Sung Tz’u (1186–1249), a Chinese judge-physician (long before the first European forensics manual written in the 17th century). It is a surprisingly modern work intended to help a judge investigate criminal affairs. It was so ground-breaking that it was immediately translated into Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese and applied to the criminal cases there.
One chapter is devoted to the actions to be taken at a crime scene: one must map out the position of the corpse with respect to the environment; one interrogates witnesses while bearing in mind their relationship to the deceased; upon the discovery of the corpse, one must plot on a diagram representing a human body the locations of wounds or bruises.
Another chapter concerns the rate of decay of a corpse and describes the different stages of putrefaction of a body, depending on its corpulence and on the season: a lean body and a fat one decompose differently, and both decay faster in summer than in winter.
A third chapter gives techniques for determining if a person died of poisoning, if a murder has been covered up as an accident. The purpose of all this being the pursuit of the truth, a way of bringing justice to the deceased.
So when criminal investigators on television talk about body farms and techniques of analysis, they’re only nine centuries behind the Chinese judges.
From Here to Eternity
There was another reason that incited Taoists to examine so carefully the properties of minerals and plants, one that ultimately connects Asia to Europe: Taoists were in fact alchemists in search of immortality.
So here we come upon a correlation between two groups of people in different times and in different places, with the same quest: eternal life. The European alchemists sought the Philosopher’s stone that would turn base metals into gold, and procure immortality. The Chinese alchemists refined, combined and ingested substances like cinnabar (mercury sulfide) realgar (arsenic sulfide), arsenic, quartz, lead, as they believed these compounds would keep their bodies from decaying. They limited themselves to very special diets containing pine kernels and kept away from cereals that they thought would corrupt their organs. Did it work? Apparently it did, to some extent, for bodies of ancient Taoists have been discovered. They were dry, their skin had turned black, but on the whole they were rather well-conserved thanks to all the arsenic they’d ingested. So in a way, they did achieve an immortality of sorts.
In order to prepare their elíxirs and immortality pills, Taoists set up laboratories and carried out experiments which they documented thoroughly. Therefore, one could consider them as proto-chemists.
Back to the Future
These proto-chemists allow me to move on to another theme dear to me: Science. I am fascinated by inventions and techniques that had been developed in Ancient China and make use of them in several of my novels. Acknowledging these inventions enables one to understand the flow of thought and technology through commercial routes or movements of population due to war or economic pressure.
The Chinese had mapped the skies and produced a star atlas during the T’ang Dynasty (approximately 700 A.D.), the oldest atlas of its kind. It is made of twelve maps representing Chinese constellations which are, of course, different from the Western ones. The remarkable thing is that these maps rely on a technique known today as the Mercator projection. This cylindrical projection where the meridians are mapped as equally spaced vertical lines, and parallels are mapped as horizontal lines was invented by Mercator in 1569, and is widely used for modern maps.
As early as the 6th century B.C., the Chinese were aware that certain plants could be used as indicators of the nature of the soil, making them the precursors of modern geobotanists, like Alexander von Humboldt in the 19th century. They noted that hematite, an iron oxide, was found in abundance where a plant called smartweed grew. These observations paved the way to modern geoprospection.
My favourite source in matter of science is a series of books called Science and Civilisation in China initiated by Joseph Needham (1900-1925), a British biochemist and sinologist. With international collaborators, he studied the history of mathematics, mechanical engineering, physics, chemistry, mining, botany... These books examine the state of the art in science in Ancient China and its diffusion throughout the world.
Final Fantasy: the Spirits within
Although I favour science as a theme, I do blend Superstitions and Legends into my work, as they are essential to Asian civilisations.
I mentioned that a Viet usually embraces Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism all at once, so one additional creed doesn’t frighten him. He can also be an animist and believe in spirits living in banyan trees, streams or rocks. This explains why there are often small altars with burning joss sticks at the foot of some trees, or at the crossing of roads. A Viet must pray to these deities, and never speak ill of them, lest they put a curse on him.
Ghosts and ghouls populate my stories for the world of the living and that of the dead are intimately connected. During the Hungry Ghosts Festival, people who have not been properly buried return to beg food from the living. In classical literature, spirits seeking revenge appear as beautiful young women and lie in wait for their victims.
I also incorporate legends because they link the world of Man to that of the Gods. In 1418, general Le Loi began to muster a revolt against the Ming who had invaded Dai-Viet. His initial forays did not encounter much success until the Dragon King, a god, decided to come to his aid. One day a fisherman came upon a blade while casting his nets. Although he tried to throw the blade back into the river, it always found its way into his net. So he stored it in his shed and forgot all about it. This fisherman later sided with Le Loi, who paid him a visit one evening. In the dark he noticed a blue glimmer coming from the blade. On the metal were etched the words Thuan Thien, The Will of Heaven. The fisherman bade the general to take the blade. A few days later, Le Loi discovered, in the branches of a banyan, a hilt set with precious stones which fit perfectly with the blade. With this sword sent by the Gods, he rallied a huge army, switching from guerrilla to overt attacks, and ended up driving the Chinese from the country. Some time after ascending the throne, Emperor Le was boating on a lake in the capital when a golden turtle surfaced and demanded that the Dragon King’s sword be returned. Le Loi bowed with respect and flung the sword back into the water. This lake in Hanoi is thus called The Lake of the Returned Sword.
The legend of Le Loi and the Golden Turtle illustrates how the Gods intervene in the affairs of Men through emblems. Symbols bestowing the Mandate of Heaven and asserting a monarch’s legitimacy are vital when it comes to gathering people for a cause: military strategists are acutely aware of this. And so is Mandarin Tan.
However, since I write crime novels, these incursions into a world of fantasy are rationally explained in the end.
What We Do in the Shadows
Obviously, I rely heavily on research in order to write a book. Before I start a novel, I spend a long time reading a bit of everything, books on history, religion, legends, botany, medicine. I go online to fetch scientific papers published by researchers from different universities. Then I let it sink in while doing some more reading.
And then one day, something clicks and connections are made. And everything suddenly makes sense: I could have a story linking poisons to European history to Chinese cartography for example.
I then build a precise scenario with the appropriate characters and place the right clues in the right spots: I know now how the story starts, how it develops and how it ends. And since there are usually three different stories within a novel, I must weave them together.
But if I were to tell the story in this linear fashion, my reader would die of boredom. So I disassemble the plot and reassemble it, taking care of the rythm, the tension, the cliff-hangers... I have then the different chapters of my book. Special attention is given to the ending, because for me, a good ending is crucial. It is all too easy to lure the reader into your story with a flashy first chapter, but the ending is where you must live up to your promises. My utmost concern is that the mysteries are coherently solved, with no loose ends, otherwise the reader will feel he has been cheated.
Then starts the writing process. I won’t write before I’ve visualised a scene. For this reason, readers often say my novels resemble a movie – with vivid descriptions and a fast pace. I try to get things right the first time around out of sheer laziness. It just takes too much effort to do the same job twice. But I can write scenes in any sequence, since I know what each scene must contain.
But the fun doesn’t stop here for there is still the appendix to write. That’s where I acknowledge all the authors I’ve read and cite my sources. This is simply what one must do out of intellectual rectitude, and it is the standard procedure when one carries out research. The appendix tells the reader what comes from real facts and what was born from my imagination, and allows him to explore eventually a theme of the book, now that he has the references I used.
Thus the book ends with a movement of closure (The mystery is solved.) but at the same time, it fosters questions about the meaning of justice (Are the criminals in the story truly bad?) and opens up new perspectives for the reader with the appendix.
When I wrote with my sister, the process was identical, but the work had to be carefully coordinated. One of us would come up with a story from which we would build a scenario. We chose to write chapters that appealed specially to us. I favoured scenes with action, humour and sexual innuendos. Kim prefered more sedate ones. Once the chapters were done, we exchanged them and came up with (more or less) positive criticism. Having been trained by the same French teachers in high school, we had no trouble in adjusting our ways of writing. In the end, all should fit together seamlessly and the reader should be unable to detect differences in style.
The problem when we worked together was the rhythm: Kim polished her prose whereas I wrote fast. There might have been a slight chance that she was fed up with my constant nagging. We decided to suspend our cooperation. However, being recently overwhelmed by other projects, I’m trying to persuade Kim to write the next novel on Mandarin Tan’s adventures.
No doubt about it: dares can really change one’s life. I was forced to leave the comfort of my high-tech office and drag myself to book festivals, located most of the time in French wine country. Truth be told, it can be quite difficult to speak about your work with roast duck and foie gras coming and going in front of your eyes. In 2014 I was exiled for six long months to a remote island in the Southern Hemisphere - New Zealand, of all places.
But I can live with this.
Dares definitely make you stretch yourself. They can even make you learn to ride a bike in 30 minutes.
MCKNIGHT, D.E. (1981) The Washing Away of Wrongs: Forensic Medicine in Thirteenth-Century China. Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan.
NEEDHAM, J. (1974) Science and Civilisation in China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
VAN GULIK, R. (1961). Sexual Life in Ancient China: A Preliminary Survey of Chinese Sex and Society from ca. 1500 B.C. till 1644 A.D. Leiden: E.J. Brill.
TRAN-NHUT, T. "Thanh-Van Tran-Nhut." http://tvtn.free.fr. Accessed 9/11/2015
The Australian Journal of Crime Fiction
Vol 1 No 1 Special Issue 2015
'Detecting and (Re)Solving Conflicts in French Crime Fiction' Special Issue Editors: Jean Anderson, Angela Kimyongür, and Alistair Rolls