June Hur’s 2020 The Silence of Bones is a stand-alone historical murder mystery.
King Chŏngjo of Joseon has died. Natural causes? Assassination? The ominous natural phenomena said to have accompanied his death are suggestive of something askew. Nevertheless, in the well-ordered state that is Joseon, to speculate risks execution for treason.
Every politically aware person knows that when in five months the official mourning period ends, Catholics, deemed enemies of the state, will again be tracked down and punished, as will those whose diligence in exposing Catholics is insufficient. As will others whose crime is to have inconvenienced the currently well-connected. Rivers of blood will flow, followed, no doubt, by a golden age of stability.
Damo (indentured police servant) Seol has a more immediate problem: a woman’s corpse found in an alley.