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China Trade by S.J. Rozan
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China Trade (1994)

by S.J. Rozan

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Lydia Chin, a Chinese American detective, is still struggling to establish herself as a true professional in a world full of preconceptions and prejudices. She's hired by a small Chinatown museum to find and retrieve some boxes of rare porcelains which were stolen from the museum. Her partner, when she needs one, is Bill Smith a sixteen-year veteran New York private investigator. We join Lydia in the amazing and shadowy world of Chinese people in America, Chinatown gangs, small shops, alternative medicines, and the reclusive world of people who are fixated on the art world. To find the porcelains, Lydia and Bill will have to follow a trail of clues that send her from high-end art dealers into the world of Chinese gangs.

Lydia is in her late-20s, an age at which her traditional mother thinks she should have been married by, and a private investigator, an occupation her mother and brother disapprove of, but that doesn’t stop Lydia. A lifelong resident of Chinatown in New York, Lydia is the obvious choice when part of a small neighborhood museum’s porcelain collection is stolen. Lydia is a good mix of traditional and modern. She’s tough, feisty and can handle herself in a fight, but she lives with her mom, approaches elders in town with respect, understand how much reputation matters in Chinatown.

There is gripping, detailed action, with almost no letdown in pace, even when we are introduced to some of the more arcane elements of Chinese culture. This is a very good first novel, and while the last thing I need to start is another series, I've nevertheless added this one to my giant TBR pile. ( )
  Olivermagnus | Jan 17, 2016 |
The first book in the Lydia Chin-Bill Smith series. A lot of fun, with a great dynamic between the main characters. I was instantly drawn to them, they're both not your typical hard-boiled PI types. Lydia can mostly handle herself, but she's a small Asian woman, and for once the main character isn't too proud to call in assistance where it's needed. Plus, unlike the typical loner PIs, her family plays a large and amusing role. And Bill, he's a large tough guy, but not macho or overbearing, he's actually very sweet and respectful and just the kind of guy you'd like to bring home to mom.

This was a very enjoyable first book and made me quite eager to go read more of Lydia & Bill! ( )
  .Monkey. | Nov 17, 2013 |
Occasionally a bit overwritten for my taste, but an enjoyable read nevertheless. The ubiquity of pay phones and indoor smoking makes this feel like a story from another era, a bit quaint. Am I really old enough to remember 'another era'?! ( )
  kylenapoli | Feb 15, 2012 |
I really enjoyed this one. For one, after reading a slew of private investigator fic from Chandler's Marlowe to McDonald's McGee to Parker's Spenser, I was incredibly grateful for what Rozan's Lydia Chin was not. Yes, like many among her fictional brethren she has plenty of sass, and yes she can handle herself in a fight--but she's not someone who sleeps with clients or suspects or easily resorts to violence or breaks the law or lies to police (even if she doesn't tell all--but for once the reasons come across as credible)--nor is she Too Stupid To Live. This might sound like faint praise, but trust me, that alone makes Chin stand out in a good way in this subgenre.

Chin is also less isolated than the usual hard-boiled detective. She partners with Bill Smith, another private detective, she has a brother who makes me thankful to be an only child, a mother that drives her insane--and honest to goodness friends.

I also admit part of my enjoyment is that the novel is set in my hometown of New York City, and the author, herself a New York City native and resident, is good at conjuring up the city, from the world of Chinatown to the Upper West and East Side.

A fun, enjoyable novel I zipped through in one sitting, I'll certainly be reading more in the series. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Dec 3, 2010 |
This series is great! ( )
  helenthelibrarian | Feb 24, 2010 |
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This one is as it always was for PRB
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I jumped a pothole in Canal Street as I dashed between honking cards and double-parked ones.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312955901, Mass Market Paperback)

It's a city within a city, of smells, sounds, dark shops, and close-knit families; it's a world all its own. And in all of New York's Chinatown, there is no one like P.I. Lydia Chin, who has a nose for trouble, a disapproving Chinese mother, and a partner named Bill Smith who's been living above a bar for sixteen years.

Hired to find some precious stolen porcelain, Lydia follows a trail of clues from highbrow art dealers into a world of Chinese gangs. Suddenly, this case has become as complex as her community itself--and as deadly as a killer on the loose...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:06 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Hired to find some precious stolen porcelain, Lydia follows a trail of clues from highbrow art dealers into a world of Chinese gangs. Suddenly, this case has become as complex as her community itself--and as deadly as a killer on the loose. This novel features the mystery world's first Chinese-American female detective.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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