Last seen in 2011’s Ghost Hero, Lydia Chin and Bill Smith venture into unfamiliar terrain—the Deep South—in Edgar winner Rozan’s stellar 12th novel featuring the two New York City PIs. To Lydia’s surprise, the detective’s mother, who isn’t a fan of either her daughter’s profession or Bill, asks Lydia to travel with Bill to Clarksdale, Miss., where a cousin Lydia has never heard of, 23-year-old Jefferson Tam, has just been arrested for the murder of his grocer father, Leland. While the evidence against Jefferson appears strong—he was found next to his father’s corpse and his prints were on the bloody knife that caused the fatal wound—Mrs. Chin refuses to accept that a relative of her late husband could possibly be guilty. Before Lydia and Bill can talk to Jefferson about what happened, he escapes from jail, an act that only makes him look guiltier. As usual, Rozan is adept at devising a plausible but intricate mystery for her leads. She also presents a nuanced look at the experiences of Chinese immigrants in the U.S. Her superior prose and characterizations will make even newcomers hope for a shorter wait for the next book in the series. Agent, Josh Getlzer, Hannigan Salky Getzler Agency. (July)
Rozan’s remote Coahoma County is as atmospheric as her New York City, and the Chinese-American traditions of ‘paper sons’ and their shop-keeping history in the South are craftily revealed in her trademark elegant prose. This new title in an award-winning and critically acclaimed series will be welcomed by fans. And what will they make of the big surprise in the final chapter?
P. I. Lydia Chin is taken out of her urban comfort zone in New York's Chinatown when her mother informs her that a distant cousin she's never even heard of has been accused of murder and needs help. The catch? Jefferson Tam is a Mississippi Delta native, a place completely alien to Lydia. Fortunately, Bill Smith, her occasional partner, was raised in the south and tags along to act as her translator and cultural guide. The two are soon entangled in complexities of race, family loyalties, and family history. S.J. Rozan writes with verve and humor while avoiding the usual cliches outsiders often succumb to. She even gets the dialect and speech patterns right!
Okay, listen up: This woman can write! S. J. Rozan paints with the full palette of the human heart, using depth, detail, and nuance of character that I haven’t seen since Raymond Chandler. (Yes, I mean it.)
S. J. Rozan has written the book she was meant to write, and that only she could write. A remarkable achievement from a fine writer.
Once again, S. J. Rozan proves why she is the consummate pro. Not only is Paper Son one hell of a detective book, the story also takes on a hidden gem of Southern cultureChinese history in the Mississippi Delta. Rozan continues to entertain with this wonderful series by taking us deep into the most unexpected and fascinating worlds. I have no doubt she’s walked these Mississippi backroads.
A transcendent novel that’s at once a compelling mystery, a heartfelt tale of friendship, and a moving chronicle of courage and heroism on many levels. Rozan’s soaring imagination is breathtaking.
Blood and the blues are cooking down on the Delta in the triumphant return of Lydia Chin and Bill Smith. Rozan’s Paper Son is crawfish pie full of surprises served up by this master of the PI genre.
S. J. Rozan can write sentences that make my jaw literally drop. She’s as good a prose stylist as I’ve seen in a long, long time.
S.J. Rozan's charming gumshoe duo Lydia Chin and Bill Smith take a detour down south, entering the evocative world of the Chinese in the Mississippi Delta. Through this narrative, we dive into the rich history of paper sons and Chinese immigrants who first moved to the area after the Civil War, opening grocery stores in African-American communities, and how those ancient tangled roots can turn out to have deadly consequences generations later. Old secrets, racial tensions, the ultimate meaning of familyRozan weaves these threads together in a compelling narrative with her characteristic moxie and humor. Read this now.
It’s been long since we’ve entered the world of Lydia Chin and Bill Smith, and Paper Son doesn’t disappoint. But instead of the proverbial mean streets of Manhattan, Lydia and her partner find themselves in the Mississippi Delta, seeking the truth behind the homicide arrest of a distant cousin Lydia never knew she had. In the course of investigating this possible crime, Lydia Chin uncovers old crimes and family secrets, and the fascinating, little-known tale of Chinese immigrants moving to the Deep South to start a new life. Filled with twists, turns, and sudden surprises, Paper Son is highly recommended.
Rozan skillfully weaves this history [of paper sons] into her narrative, adding texture and nuance to what is already a cracking good mystery.
After a hiatus in this series (Ghost Hero, 2011, etc.) that's felt like forever, Lydia Chin's formidable mother, who's never approved of her work as a private eye, packs her off to the Mississippi Delta for the best and worst reasons.
The first time Lydia ever hears of her cousin Jefferson Tam is when her mother tells her that he's been arrested for stabbing his father, Leland, ne Lo-Liang, to death. He was found bending over the dead man, his fingerprints on the murder weapon, but he's obviously innocent, and Lydia and her partner, Bill Smith, have to exonerate him. Lydia's pleasure that her mother needs her professional skills, from which she's always recoiled in the past, is undercut by her own deep reservations about leaving Manhattan for the Deep South. Despite the hospitality of Jefferson's uncle, the gambler Capt. Peter Tam, Clarksdale feels impossibly foreign to her even though her great-grandfather's brother Chin Song-Zhao, aka Harry Tam, settled there long ago, masking his identity by the time-honored method of bribing naturalized Chinese-Americans to file false information identifying him as their son. Barely have Lydia and Bill arrived than Jefferson escapes from police custody, eliminating any lingering doubts deputy Bert Lucknell might have had about his guilt. The case immerses Lydia and her Kentucky-born partner in an exotic landscape stuffed with eminently recognizable local types and three generations of knotty family history, appropriately climaxed by an interview with a dotty old lady who has no idea that she holds the key to the riddle. But Rozan is far too conscientious a plotter to settle for detective tourism, and the solution manages to be both utterly predictable in its broad outlines—even the book's title is a broad wink—and mind-bogglingly complicated in its details.
This is Mississippi, the dazed heroine keeps reminding herself with every new twist. Maybe, maybe not—but it's a triumphant return of this sorely missed franchise either way.
This 12th series entry from Rozan (after Ghost Hero). Lydia is independent-minded but still lives at home in New York with her mother, who is domineering and intolerant of anyone not Chinese. When Jefferson Tam, Lydia's cousin four times removed, is arrested for murder in Mississippi, her mother issues orders. No relative of theirs could possibly be guilty of murder. Lydia must go to Mississippi at once and prove him innocent. Bill must go along to keep her from trouble. A century back, Jefferson's great-grandfather entered the country as a "paper son," a false adoption—thus Tam instead of Chin. But that's just one bit of weirdness in a case of escalating near-chaos. Mississippi is different from what Lydia expected. She meets new relatives but racism is rampant. Lydia and Bill run around following false leads but eventually solve the case, and in the process, discover new meaning for the phrase "paper son." VERDICT Rozan's detective stories have won every prize in the book, so expect mystery lovers to flock to this one.—David Keymer, Cleveland