The Corpse Reader
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After his grandfather dies, avid scholar and budding forensic investigator Cí Song begrudgingly gives up his studies to help his family. But when another tragedy strikes, he’s forced to run and also deemed a fugitive. Dishonored, he has no choice but to accept work as a lowly gravedigger, a position that allows him to sharpen his corpse-reading skills. Soon, he can deduce whether a person killed himself—or was murdered.
His prowess earns him notoriety, and Cí receives orders to unearth the perpetrator of a horrific series of mutilations and deaths at the Imperial Court. Cí’s gruesome investigation quickly grows complicated thanks to old loyalties and the presence of an alluring, enigmatic woman. But he remains driven by his passion for truth—especially once the killings threaten to take down the Emperor himself.
Inspired by Song Cí, considered to be the founding father of CSI-style forensic science, this harrowing novel set during the thirteenth-century Tsong Dynasty draws readers into a multilayered, ingenious plot as disturbing as it is fascinating.
The Corpse Reader received the Zaragoza International Prize for best historical novel published in Spain (Premio Internacional de Novela Histórica Ciudad de Zaragoza). Antonio’s previous novel, La Escriba, was published in 2008.
a very unusual case, and the one that formed the basis of Gray Fox’s elevation to his place at court. Two days before the end-of-term exams.” “And in the week leading up to exams, are students allowed to leave the academy at all?” “Absolutely not. It is expressly forbidden. If special circumstances obliged someone to have to leave, the guard would note it down, and I happen to remember there was no such case that week.” “I see. And tell me, how do your students tend to go about preparing for
stronger than the guards restraining him, and he suddenly lashed out, hitting the nearest one with the stocks and rushing toward Cí. The guards intercepted Lu and subdued him with another beating before chaining him to the wall. The sheriff struck Lu across the face. “Confess, and you might be able to eat rice again!” said the sheriff. “Take this off me!” At a gesture from the magistrate, the sheriff tightened a handle on the mask, making Lu howl. The next turn of the handle applied pressure
and bitter taste were unmistakable to him; he dipped a finger and knew immediately that the owners were cheating him. He managed to get his money back but then had to flee because the owners, cunningly, tried to accuse him of breaking the sale agreement. Not knowing what else to do, he spent the rest of the afternoon trying to find work—even though he knew he’d probably be paid only in rice. He went to all the nearby stalls asking for a job, but seeing how worn-out he looked and the way he was
I trusted you, so now you have to trust me. Tell me what happened. You aren’t on your own in the world, Cí.” Yes, I am. Alone is exactly what I am. Cí tried to take the notes back, but Ming held them out of his reach. He hung his head and said nothing as rage swelled through him. How could he possibly explain that everyone he’d ever trusted had let him down, even his own father? Over the following days, Cí did his best to avoid both Ming and Gray Fox—no easy task, especially with Gray
name of the fugitive?” “Not yet. It seems this Sheriff Kao kept himself to himself, barely talked about the case.” Cí felt as if he could breathe again. He considered trying to change the subject, but he knew he needed to appear interested. “Strange, though. The judiciary doesn’t offer rewards, does it?” “Quite strange. Maybe the reward was from some rich landowner.” “Maybe the sheriff was close to solving the case and thought about taking the reward for himself,” suggested Cí. “Maybe that