by S. J. Rozan
Series: Lydia Chin & Bill Smith, #7
Hardcover, 312 pg.
Thomas Dunne Books, 2001
Read: October 24 – 26, 2015
I love reading the conversations that Lydia and Bill have — especially those that have little-to-nothing to do with their work. In the opening pages of this book, where Lydia explains to Bill what Grandfather Gao wants them to do, and where he wants them to do it, we get one of their better conversations. Bill has a lot of fun with the idea that the venerated Grandfather Gao wants him to do anything for him, much less travel to the other side of the planet for him.
Grandfather Gao, who looms large over Chinatown in general and Lydia’s life in particular, wants the two of them to make a couple of deliveries to Hong Kong: the ashes of an old friend, and a package for that friend to be delivered to his brother.
Of course this simple errand doesn’t go as planned — it’d be a very short book if it did. As entertaining as it might be to read about these two playing tourist in Hong Kong, that’s not the type of book Rozan wrrites. Soon, this errand plunges the partners into at least one kidnapping plot, a murder, and all sorts of other crimes. How much of this was predicted by Grandfather Gao is a question on everyone’s mind.
The best part of this book is seeing Lydia in a strange land — in NYC, the accent is on the “Chinese” in Chinese-American, by the way she was raised, where she lives (both neighborhood and with her mother), her family, and her appearance. But here? The accent is on “American.” She gets a bit more of the culture and customs than your typical tourist, and a lot more of the language, but at the end of the day, she’s a foreigner even where Bill’s the one who looks different than most people she’s around.
Now, no American detective (or pair) can wander around a foreign city, stirring up trouble and solving crimes without one ally. Lydia and Bill are helped out by Mark Quan, a detective raised in the American South who moved to Hong Kong later and became a police officer there. He, of course, has his own connection to Grandfather Gao — which, at least, means that he can be trusted. At the end of the day, we’re reminded more than once, that a cop is a cop no matter where you are, so even if he can be trusted, he’s not that open to P.I. help (especially American P.I. help). I really enjoyed him as a character, and hope that he gets sent to NYC in the future to help with something in a Rush Hour/Red Heat-type move.
Bill, as usual, comes across as a better guy than he does in the books from his perspective. I appreciate that dynamic, he comes across as more heroic (if semi-annoyingly interested in Lydia — from her perspective), and she comes across a bit more clever and resourceful in his books. He didn’t get nearly enough to do, in my opinion, but I know he’ll get his turn soon enough.
Not the best in this series, but man, it was entertaining. Loved seeing these two as fish out of water, yet still doing their thing. Bring on the next!