A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year
"Note-perfect. Heartbreaking. Profound…[A] polished dagger of a novel that will cut out your heart." —Charles Bock, New York Times best-selling author of Beautiful Children
Robert, an Oakland cop, still can’t let go of Suzy, the mysterious Vietnamese wife who left him. Now she’s disappeared from her new husband, Sonny, a violent smuggler who blackmails Robert into finding her. Searching for Suzy in the sleek and seamy gambling dens of Las Vegas, Robert finds himself also chasing the past that haunts her—one that extends back to Vietnam and a refugee camp in Malaysia, and forward to Suzy’s estranged daughter, a poker shark now taking the future into her own hands.
In Tran's striking debut crime novel, Oakland, Calif., cop Robert Ruen could be a poster boy for noir fiction. A few years before the story begins, his Vietnamese wife, Suzy, suddenly deserted him for no apparent reason. He eventually found her in Las Vegas, living with Sonny Van Nguyen, a shady but obviously successful Vietnamese smuggler, gambler, and restaurateur. The novel begins with his being visited by minions of Sonny's cool, sinister son, Junior. Suzy has disappeared and Junior, using threats, forces the detective to return to Sin City to search for her. This part of the thriller is narrated by Ruen, with reader Taylorson catching every rise and fall of his emotional thrill ride, notably his fear of Sonny and Junior, and his desire to help Suzy at any cost. The Chicago-based voice actor imparts a deadly seriousness to Sonny's shifting, excessive moods and adds a silkiness to Junior's emotionless demands; he is also convincing in his subtle Vietnamese inflections. Ruen's narration is interrupted by segments from Suzy's secret letters, written to the daughter she was forced to abandon at a point in her tumultuous past. These sad, yet lyrically penned missives are gracefully and passionately performed by reader Wu. Ruen's story gives the book top crime credentials, but it's Suzy's letters, lovingly rendered by Wu, that lift it above its genre trappings. A Norton hardcover.
What happens in Vegas
A heavy, deeply personal, meditative thriller that unfolds in the dark hollow between self and other, past and present, and homelands real and imagined in the long, inner dark of cultural memory.