Trail of Blood by S J Rozan
|Trail of Blood by S J Rozan|
|Reviewer: Luci Davin|
|Summary: New York City PIs investigate a murder and uncover a story that goes back to wartime Shanghai.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 496||Date: May 2010|
|Publisher: Ebury Press|
|External links: Author's website|
Lydia Chin takes on a new case helping another private investigator, Joel Pilarsky, to find missing jewellery which belonged to an Austrian Jewish refugee in wartime Shanghai – she has been hired for her ability to operate in New York City's Chinese community. She is quickly drawn into Rosalie Gilder's story, told through letters written to her mother, and when Joel is shot dead the next day, being fired by the client doesn't stop her wanting to find out more. She is glad when her old associate Bill Smith, who has been out of touch for a while, returns to help her. This detective story linking past and present is compulsive reading.
Trail of Blood is actually the most recent instalment in an American series featuring this NYC PI duo, but is the first to be published in the UK by Ebury. I prefer to read series mysteries in order but this novel stands very well alone and is a fine introduction to Lydia and Bill. I do wish the publishers had retained the original US title, The Shanghai Moon, which refers to the missing jewel at the centre of the case, and is far more evocative and unusual – there must be lots of crime novels with the word Blood in the title.
The working relationship and friendship between Lydia and Bill is one of the things that makes this novel (and others in the series) special – they come from very different backgrounds, as a 28 year old Chinese American and a middle aged white guy, but they draw on their different knowledge, skills and personalities to solve cases and deal with villains. While the case is quite serious, and the story that unfolds is sad, they relate to each other with real warmth and wit. It is common in PI fiction for the detective to have a subordinate sidekick, but this is a partnership of equals. This is Lydia's case so she takes the lead and is the first person narrator, but in other books in the series we get Bill's viewpoint.
I was very absorbed by the parts of the story told in the form of Rosalie's letters to her mother – like Lydia, she is a very brave and inquisitive heroine, and I shared Lydia's disappointment when the letters came to a sudden end.
The resolution of the story turns out to be very complex and twisty, and Lydia and Bill must draw on all their knowledge and skills to resolve the case, and find out who killed Joel, who has stolen the jewels, and much more besides.
I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with Lydia and Bill and would like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of this book to The Bookbag.
If this book interests you, there are lots of great PI series to explore. Sue Grafton's U is for Undertow is the latest in the series featuring female PI Kinsey Milhone. Diane Wei Liang's Paper Butterfly is about a PI in Beijing. Two other books about wartime Shanghai are a memoir, Blue China by Bamboo Hirst, and Empire of the Sun by J G Ballard.
You can read more book reviews or buy Trail of Blood by S J Rozan at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Trail of Blood by S J Rozan at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.