Lao She & Judge Dee Ren Jie

Created by S.J. Rozan & John Shen Yen Nee

If you’re a hardcore mystery buff, you may be thinking:

“Wait a minute! Wasn’t Judge Dee a fictional detective in a series of novels written from the b1940s through the 1960s by  Robert van Gulik?”

And you’d be more or less correct. Judge Dee (or Judge Di, Judge Di Rennie or even Di Ren Jie) was actually based on the real-life Di Renjie, a county magistrate and statesman who served in the Tang court of China in  approximately  630 –  700. During the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), Di Gong Ana fictionalized version of his exploits was published in China, riddled with anachronisms.

It was a copy of Di Gong An (in English, The Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee) that Dutch author Robert van Gulik  picked up in a used book store in Tokyo and translated, publishing it in 1949. He then went on, using the same style and characters to write a slew of mystery novels, short stories and even comics, right into the sixties.

And now Judge Dee is being revived for a whole new generation, this time by S.J. Rozan (author of the acclaimed Lydia Chin and Bill Smith P.I. novels) and & John Shen Yen Nee (an LA-based media executive/producer/entrepreneur who’s worked mostly in comics). Their spin on the character, introduced in The Murder of Mr. Ma (2024), ranges even further afield, dragging their version of JUDGE DEE REN JIE into 1920s London, where he’s journeyed from China to investigate the murder of someone he knew during World War One. There he encounters shy, bookish young LAO SHE, who’s dragged into the judge’s wild adventures, full of daring escapades, assorted mayhem, martial arts, explosions (both literal and figurative) and, of course, more murder. Buckles will be swashed, cliffs will be hung by and astounding feats of deduction will ensue.

The inspiration for this proposed new series (and the publishers make no bones about it) are Guy Ritchie’s ridiculous but popular Sherlock Holmes action flicks.

You’ve been warned. 


A long-time fan favourite and one of the hardest working writers in the shamus game, S.J. Rozan’s work has nabbed assorted Edgars, Anthony, Shamuses, Neroes and Macavities, and she’s done her time for the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime and the Private Eye Writers of America, who awarded her  The Eye, their lifetime achievement award, in 2016.

According to Amazon, “John Shen Yen Nee is a half Chinese, half Scottish American media executive, producer and entrepreneur who was born in Knoxville, grew up in San Diego, and is now based in Los Angeles, with a penchant for very long run-on sentences. He has served as president of WildStorm Productions; senior vice president of DC Comics; publisher of Marvel Comics; CEO of Cryptozoic Entertainment; and cofounder of CCG Labs.”



Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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