Set in New York’s Chinatown in 1976, this sharp and gritty novel is a mystery set against the backdrop of a city in turmoil
Robert Chow is a Vietnam vet and an alcoholic. He’s also the only Chinese American cop on the Chinatown beat, and the only police officer who can speak Cantonese. But he’s basically treated like a token, trotted out for ribbon cuttings and community events.
So he shouldn’t be surprised when his superiors are indifferent to his suspicions that an old Chinese woman’s death may have actually been a murder. But he sure is angry. With little more than his own demons to fuel him, Chow must take matters into his own hands.
Rich with the details of its time and place, this homage to noir will appeal to fans of S.J. Rozan and Michael Connelly.
Lin (Waylaid) examines the life of a 1976 Chinatown beat cop in his understated second novel. Young officer Robert Chow is unabashedly used by the NYPD to create the illusion of diversity in the force, despite anti-Asian bias from white cops who don't know or don't care that Chow served with U.S. forces in Vietnam. Chow can't get his superiors' attention when he suspects that a woman may have been murdered by her husband, and he soon finds himself caught between the corrupt rulers of the local Chinese-American community and the average men and women who toil for meager wages to survive. Chow is a little too enigmatic to engage most readers, and the murder plot remains in the background throughout much of the story; nonetheless, Lin succeeds at recreating his chosen time and place, even if authors like Reggie Nadelson and S.J. Rozan have better handled issues of assimilation and real-life policing.