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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Like S. J. Rozan's previous books, Reflecting the Sky features the disparate, oddly complementary pair of private investigators who first appeared in China Trade: middle-aged Caucasian Bill Smith and his petite, impulsive Chinese-American partner, Lydia Chin. But this time out, Rozan removes her characters from the familiar environs of Manhattan and drops them into the alien society of postcolonial Hong Kong. The result is a complex, satisfying suspense story and a compelling portrait of an exotic corner of the modern world.
An unusual feature of Rozan's novels is the fact that she alternates narrators from book to book. This time out, Lydia tells the story, which begins when she accepts a seemingly straightforward assignment from Grandfather Gao, resident eminence of New York's Chinatown. Gao, acting as executor for his recently deceased childhood friend, Wei Yao-shi, wants her to deliver two personal items to Wei's surviving family in Hong Kong. One is a letter intended for Wei's younger brother, Wei Ang-ran. The other is a piece of antique jade intended for seven-year-old Wei Hao-han (a.k.a. Harry), the dead man's grandson.
As the severely jet-lagged detectives arrive at the Wei apartment, trouble begins. The apartment itself appears to have been ransacked, and Harry and his Filipina nursemaid have disappeared. Moments later, an anonymous kidnapper calls, demanding the piece of antique jade in exchange for Harry's life. Shortly after that, a second, separate kidnapper calls, demanding 20 million Hong Kong dollars. Despite the ambiguity of the situation, and despite their status as strangers in a bewilderingly foreign land, Bill and Lydia join in the attempt to rescue the missing child.
As the investigation proceeds, they encounter a sympathetic American-born policeman, assorted members of the deeply eccentric Wei family, and several hostile members of a powerful Hong Kong triad. In the course of solving the mystery of Harry Wei's kidnapping, they also uncover the facts behind a lucrative, clandestine smuggling operation, an operation that provides the key to a number of interlocking puzzles.
Reflecting the Sky is the work of a gifted, ambitious writer who brings her own unique flavor to a traditional literary form. Rozan writes with wit, clarity, and precision. Her central narrative is complex and compelling, her characters sharply individualized, her evocation of a colorful, sometimes dangerous culture detailed and convincing. In Bill Smith and Lydia Chin, she has created two exemplary additions to the P.I. pantheon. I think -- and hope -- we'll be seeing a good deal more of them. (Bill Sheehan)
Bill Sheehan reviews horror, suspense, and science fiction for Cemetery Dance, The New York Review of Science Fiction, and other publications. His book-length critical study of the fiction of Peter Straub, At the Foot of the Story Tree, has been published by Subterranean Press (www.subterraneanpress.com).