Wednesday, November 16, 2011
GHOST HERO by S.J. Rozan
This is an unusual book. A fast-paced thriller with no current murder to stop or solve and no bloodletting to speak of. In GHOST HERO, the latest Bill Smith and Lydia Chin entry from the very talented hands of author S.J. Rozan, we get a great bunch of characters involved in a story about the possible return of an artist thought lost in the bloodshed of Tiananmen Square.
I wasn't sure a book of this type would hold my interest - I'm more a 'let's solve the murder' kind of gal - but hold my interest, it did. I couldn't read the thing fast enough. I was completely hooked, wanting to see what happened next.
Not only is author S.J. Rozan incredibly talented, she is also, I think, incredibly astute. Her last book, ON THE LINE, had plenty of non-stop action and violence as Manhattan private eye Bill Smith chased after a brutal kidnapper and killer who'd snatched Bill's partner, the wise-cracking Lydia Chin. While the kidnapper taunted Bill, the killing didn't stop. It was a book which held me breathless until the heart stopping end.
So, how does the author follow ON THE LINE?
With an art caper full of fun, laugh out loud dialogue, and the introduction of an attractive new character, upper Manhattan private eye, Jack Lee. If Lee turns into a permanent fixture, he might become a thorn in Bill Smith's side as Bill continues to try and win the heart of the elusive and skittish, Lydia.
Lee is a fresh spark added to the intriguing mix that is the partnership of detectives Bill Smith and Lydia Chin - headquartered in Manhattan's Chinatown. (Who knows? Jack just might win the approval of Lydia's intractable mother who refers to Bill Smith as, '...the white buffalo.' )
The Manhattan art world is buzzing with news of the discovery of some recent paintings by Chinese dissident artist, Chau Chun - known as Ghost Hero Chun - dealers have begun jockeying for position. The only problem is that the Ghost Hero has been dead for 20 years - killed at Tiananmen Square when the Chinese government cracked down, with tanks and guns, on the peaceful demonstrators.
Lydia Chin has been hired to ferret out the paintings - or the painter - even though she is NOT an art expert, which in and of itself is suspicious. When the U.S. State Department and minions of the Chinese government come sniffing around, not to mention some Chinese Mafia henchmen and Bill is required to take on the guise of a Russian mobster complete with hilarious dialect, the chase is on.
Add Jack Lee, a hip private eye who specializes in art theft and you have the makings for a grand time being had by all as they run around Manhattan and Queens, hunting for paintings which may or may not be forgeries. (The author lives in Manhattan and her knowledge of the comings and goings of a city she obviously loves, is apparent.)
Jack Lee's client is a certain Dr. Yang, a professor and expert on Chinese art, whose artist daughter Anna, is married to a young Chinese dissident currently languishing in a mainland China prison. Turns out Dr. Yang knew Ghost Hero Chun in China when both were young. Yang swears that Chun is dead - he witnessed it.
As the danger swirling around the mystery of Chau Chun increases, Lydia, Bill and Jack pull off a daring caper with an appropriately satisfying result as an ultra sleazy bad guy gets his reward. Then just when you think you know everything, the author pulls out another surprise.
Each of the last three books of Edgar Award winning author S.J. Rozan's series has been especially top notch. This is one author who is definitely NOT growing stale. This is one long term series that just keeps getting better and better. I am permanently hooked.
For a complete list of the Bill Smith and Lydia Chin books, please check this link.