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Caught Dead by Andrew Lanh
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Caught Dead

by Andrew Lanh

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Not everyone believes beautiful Mary Le's death in a drive-by shooting was an accident. Although he's left his days as a policeman behind, Rick Van Lam is asked to investigate. As a boi doi, the child of a Vietnamese mother and a US soldier, Rick isn't always welcome in Connecticut's Vietnamese community but with the help of his young friend, Hank, his landlady - a former Rockette, and his ex-wife, Rick is determined to uncover the truth about Mary's death.

Fast-paced and well-plotted with and interesting "outsider" as the main character, this is an entertaining read and hopefully the first of many Rick Van Lam mysteries.

Note: this review is based on an ARC received from the publisher
  astraplain | Feb 20, 2015 |
Rick Van Lam is a boi doi. In Vietnamese this means he is a child of dust. His mother was a Vietnamese woman and his father an unknown American soldier. Born during the Vietnamese war, Rick was scorned by both cultures. His mother abandoned him to a Catholic Charity when he was about five years old. Eventually, by about his thirteenth year, no one knew his exact birthday, he was sent to the States where he was adopted. Rick adjusted fairly well, going on to study Criminal Justice in college. He did a stint as a policeman that ended after a fatal shoot out with a street punk. Rick turned to a less violent side of the law, taking a job as a private investigator for a small one man insurance investigation firm. He supplemented his income by teaching Criminal Justice at a local college in Hartford, Ct. Rick reconnected with his Vietnamese heritage through Hank Nguyen, one of his criminology students. Hank was full blooded Vietnamese and at first they didn’t hit it off very well. Hank had been raised by his family to regard people like Rick, half Vietnamese, half American, as someone to be hated and demeaned. After a series of confrontations the two found much common ground and become the best of friends. Hank even invited Rick into his home. Although Hank’s father and grandfather continued to hang onto their hatred, Hank’s grandmother and mother soon welcomed Rick into their family. Rick took Hank under his wing and began to teach him the ins and outs of being a private investigator. Their first big challenge comes when a relative of Hank’s is shot down in broad daylight on a street corner in the heart of a drug infested, gangland area of the city. A place where the beautiful Ms. Le would never be caught dead. This is an entertaining book, with a good plot that is very convoluted. I enjoyed learning more about the Vietnamese American culture. Book provided for review by Poisoned Pen Press. ( )
  Ronrose1 | Oct 12, 2014 |
CAUGHT DEAD was an intriguing story. Rick Van Lam - the Vietnamese son of an unknown American soldier - is a private investigator in Hartford, Connecticut. He specializes in insurance fraud. But when his friend Hank Nguyen comes to him and asks him to investigate the death of Mary Le Vu, one of the beautiful Le sisters, he agrees. Actually, he says that he will talk to some people.

Rick talks to Mary's husband and two children. He talks to Mary's sister Molly, her husband and her two children. He talks to the housekeeper and her successful son. He quickly gets immersed in the various stories of all of these characters. Benny Vu is a poor storekeeper. His son Tommy and daughter Cindy are American and both disappointments. Both with dead end jobs and no ambition for more. Mary's sister Molly married rich American Larry Torcelli and had two children Jon and Kristen. Jon is a perpetual student at Yale and Kristen is a member of the country club set. Another intriguing character is Danny, who is the housekeeper's son, and Larry's protege. Larry sent him to prep school and Harvard and now Danny is a banker. He's the only one of the kids' generation that is a success.

When Molly is killed in the same place as her sister Mary, the investigation intensifies. Rick is such an intriguing character because of his outsider status. He aches to be part of the Vietnamese culture but is looked down on by many because of his mixed heritage. He has become a part of Hank's family and loves his grandmother but Hank's father and grandfather have nothing to do with him. Rick also has an ex-wife that he still has a close relationship with. Other support for Rick is his crusty business partner and his former Rockette landlady.

This story was as much about the Vietnamese immigrants who are trying to keep their culture while living in the US and their Americanized children as it was a mystery. Rick's mixed heritage and his Buddhist upbringing make him an interesting and unusual entry into the ranks of modern detectives. I liked the story and look forward to more by the author. ( )
  kmartin802 | Oct 5, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 146420330X, Hardcover)

One of the beautiful Le sisters is dead. Hartford, Connecticut's small Vietnamese community is stunned. Mary Le Vu, wife of a poor grocery-store owner, is gunned down in a drive-by. Her twin sister insists dutiful Mary “wouldn't be caught dead” in that drug-infested zone. The police rule it an unlucky accident. Skeptics hire private eye Rick Van Lam to get to the truth. Amerasian Rick --his father an unknown US soldier --is one of the Bui Doi, children of the dust, so often rejected by Vietnamese culture. But his young sidekick, Hank Nguyen, a pureblood Vietnamese, can help Rick navigate the closed world of Little Saigon. Surrounded by close friends --a former-Rockette landlady, his crusty mentor, and his ex-wife Liz --Rick immerses himself in a world that rejects him, but now needs his help. Especially when a second murder strikes in Little Saigon. Rick and Hank delve into the families of the Le sisters, one poor, one very rich, and uncover a world of explosive ethnic tension and sinister criminal activity ranging from Hartford's exclusive white suburbs to the impoverished inner city. To solve the murders --and bring closure to Mary's grieving circle --Rick looks to long-buried memories of his Buddhist childhood for the wisdom that will lead him to a murderer. Caught Dead starts a smart, unusual series.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:48 -0400)

"Mary Le Vu, wife of a poor grocery-store owner, is gunned down in a drive-by. Her twin sister insists dutiful Mary 'wouldn't be caught dead' in that drug-infested zone. The police rule it an unlucky accident. Skeptics hire private eye Rick Van Lam to get to the truth. Amerasian Rick--his father an unknown US soldier--is one of the Bui Doi, children of the dust, so often rejected by Vietnamese culture. But his young sidekick, Hank Nguyen, a pureblood Vietnamese, can help Rick navigate the closed world of Little Saigon"--Dust jacket flap.… (more)

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