China Trade(Lydia Chin & Bill Smith, #1)
by S.J. Rozan
Lydia Chin is an ABC (American Born Chinese) living in New York's Chinatown with her mother. She's also a private investigator and we follow her on a case tracking down stolen porcelain from a small, private Chinese museum. Thus we get first-person insight into life in Chinatown, Chinese gangs, Chinese mothers (and brothers) and many other details of daily life in this unique environment.
Lydia often partners with Bill Smith who provides both brains and muscle to complement Lydia's own particular skills. The partnership contrasts work well both for mystery solving and as a story telling device.
I thoroughly enjoyed this and was interested to see that the next book is one of Bill Smith's cases, told from his point of view. So I dove right in.
Concourse(Bill Smith & Lydia Chin, #2)
by S.J. Rozan
I now understand why people say that the first book about Lydia Chin and Bill Smith was good but this one blew their socks off. Yes. It is a powerfully written book, from Bill Smith's point of view this time, and one that somehow has a different feel and style. The mystery is similarly labyrinthine, it is filled with interesting characters (some we loathe and some we love), and it held my interest the entire way through.
When Bobby Moran's son is killed working in his security firm, Bobby hires Bill Smith to investigate. Bobby was Bill's mentor and Bill knew the victim growing up so this one's personal. The murder was during a run-of-the-mill assignment at an elegant retirement home that is in the middle of a badly deteriorated neighborhood. With Lydia Chin working backup, Bill wades through the clues while additional murders pile up.
Interestingly, we get a nuanced look at urban blight which ranges from the victims to the exploiters to the non-profits trying to help. Not what I expected from investigating a murder in a senior community, but it was really well done.