Tensions in America’s relationship with China and Taiwan form the backdrop for Lin’s compelling third mystery featuring Chinese-American Robert Chow of the NYPD (after 2010’s Snakes Can’t Run). By the fall of 1976, Chow has moved on from being the department’s token to real policing, but his personal and professional lives collide when his journalist girlfriend, Lonnie, becomes the prime suspect in a case with potential international repercussions. Chen Xiaochuan, the official representative for Mao Tse-tung’s daughter, who’s seeking asylum in the States, is bludgeoned to death in a Chinatown park, and Lonnie is the last person known to have seen him after interviewing him for her newspaper. Possible motives can be found all over the political spectrum, complicating the investigation. Lin offers a vivid picture of an earlier Manhattan Chinatown than S.J. Rozan, whose fans are likely to warm to the street-savvy Chow, still coming to grips with the horrors of his Vietnam War tour of duty.
Publishers Weekly Starred Review
The third in the Robert Chow series.
Lin’s engaging Robert Chow series (Snakes Can’t Run, 2010) continues. Just months after Chow broke up a human smuggling operation in New York’s Chinatown, his girlfriend, Lonnie, gets the chance to interview a representative for Mao’s daughter, Li Na, who may be seeking asylum in the U.S. (It is 1976. Mao is dead, Madame Mao is in prison for her membership in the Gang of Four, and the People’s Republic is in turmoil.) But shortly after the interview, the representative is murdered, and Lonnie is the last person who saw him alive. Chow, on track to become a detective after joining the NYPD to be the sole Chinese face of the police in Chinatown, suddenly finds clearing Lonnie his top priority. As in previous novels, Lin does a fine job sketching a mid-seventies Manhattan beset by financial crisis, a Chinatown roiled by events half a world away, and the and family and community dynamics of Chinatown’s insular inhabitants. Readers drawn to crime fiction that illuminates other eras and other cultures will find much to savor here.
Lin has a rewardingly sharp eye for both the issues that divide the denizens of New York’s Chinatown and the features that bind them together.