New Yorker S. J. Rozan knows her way around Chinatown and takes readers along as private investigator Lydia Chin (Chinese name Chin Ling Wan-ju) tries to locate a young restaurant worker who disappeared. The waiter’s three roommates are also missing, and before Lydia can find them their tiny basement apartment is bombed, killing one of the men and seriously injuring Lydia’s friend Peter, the lawyer who had started her on the case.
There are threats, double-crosses, bodily harm, and more killing. At every turn additional individuals and groups are found to be involved: the newly formed Chinese Restaurant Workers’ Union, the New York Labor Council, federal agents who may or may not be working together, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the New York Police Department, an assortment of drug dealers at various levels in the drug hierarchy, and rival restaurant owners and would-be Chinatown lords Yang Ho-Bing and Duke Lo. Clearly a lot more is going on in Chinatown than casual and contented dining at dim sum palaces.
First person narrator Lydia Chin is a likable and rather innocent P.I. She lives with her mother, who repeatedly frets about the unmarried state of her daughter and is willing to invite almost any man into their apartment. Bill Smith banters with Lydia in lively dialogue and is rapidly becoming much more than an assistant whose advances she enjoys rejecting.
This on-going cast, plus the atmosphere of Chinatown itself, make this another mystery worthy of Shamus Award-winning author S. J. Rozan.