Unexpectedly appointed magistrate in a country district in Hong Kong, the author found himself plunged into a Chinese world about which he knew next to nothing and had to learn as fast as possible. This he does, taking the reader with him through the errors, puzzles, and bafflements of sixteen court cases which came into his court. Whether he is dealing with cows, watercress beds, squatters, dragons, quarrelling wives, or a Buddhist abbot, the author brings his reader into each case as if the reader were the actual judge, and at a given moment the solution comes to the reader as it came to the magistrate. Austin Coates has lived the greater part of his life in the East, since war service brought him to India in 1944. Born in London in 1922, son of the composer Eric Coates, he combined the early part of his writing career with work as a colonial administrator, diplomat, and adviser on Chinese affairs. He left government service in 1962 and has since resided mainly in Hong Kong.
Paperback, very good condition