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Red Jade: A Detective Jack Yu Investigation by Henry Chang
Review by Verna Suit
Soho Crime Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781569479971
Date: 08 November 2011 List Price $14.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Professionally, NYPD Detective Jack Yu has moved on from his New York Chinatown roots and is now working in Brooklyn. But he's still called back there when a murder investigation in Chinatown would benefit from his Chinese language skills and cultural familiarity. That's how he finds himself on the scene of the apparent murder-suicide of Harry Gong and his wife May Lon Fong. Soon he's drawn into unfinished business from a previous case and is headed to Seattle and another Chinatown, on the trail of murderous punk Eddie Ng and a mysterious woman named Mona.

Much of the story in Red Jade builds on cases that began in the first Jack Yu book, Chinatown Beat, and continued in Year of the Dog. In order to grasp what's going on it's best to read the books in order. Otherwise you're likely to just be confused, wondering how the events and characters in most of Red Jade>/b> are connected to the dead couple who occupy the first 50 pages. The answer is that Mona, Eddie, and others may be connected to Harry and May Lon, but we won't know how until the next book or the one after. Chang’s storytelling technique seems to be a continuous narrative that has no beginning and no end, sort of a noir soap opera.

The overseas-Chinese background gives Chang a unique voice in modern crime fiction. He writes what he knows, having lived all his life in New York's Chinatown. His books constitute a fascinating immersion course in Chinese-American culture. On the other hand, his diligence in translating every Chinese term and explaining Chinese practices and habits frequently distracts from the story and becomes tiresome. Occasionally, Chang is too obvious a lecturer or tour guide.

But Red Jade has plenty of action. Detective Yu isn't the only one searching for Mona. He's joined by the Hong Kong-based Triad which forced her into prostitution and from which she stole gold and diamonds. The POV switches between Jack, Mona, and the Triad's upper command in an international game of cat and mouse. Seattle's waterfront provides the setting for an exciting chase scene and cliffhanger ending that readers won’t know the real outcome of until the next book.

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