S.J. Rozan – An Old Friend I Never Knew I Had

Strange how sometimes you start reading a book and know within a few sentences that it’s going to be good.  ‘Trail of Blood’ by S.J. Rozan is one of those books. This is the story:

Detective Lydia Chin has been hired by her mentor Joel Pilarsky on a seemingly straightforward case. But within a day of starting their investigation, Joel is shot dead. The police think it was a robbery gone wrong, but Lydia is convinced it’s connected to the missing Holocaust assets they were investigating …

And here’s the first page:

‘I’m back.’

I dropped my suitcase, slipped off my shoes, and listened to familiar Chinatown sounds spill in the windows. Horns honked, delivery vans rumbled. Mr. Hu’s songbird trilled from the roof next door. I heard a child squeal with laughter and her grandmother scold in Cantonese: Hold my hand, you bad girl, or that fish truck will squash you flat.

And speaking of scolding in Cantonese, here came my mother.

‘Who are you?’ She shuffled from the kitchen and peered at me. ‘You look like my daughter, Ling Wan-ju, but I haven’t seen her in a long time. She went to California. She sid she’d be back soon, but she stayed. I’m happy she’s having fun.’

My mother’s sarcasm could cut diamonds.

‘Two extra weeks, Ma. And they’re your cousins.’ I kissed her papery cheek, which she grudgingly allowed. ‘Have a good time while I was gone?’

‘Your brother’s children are very noisy.’ I have four brothers, but my mother rarely uses their names when she talks to me; I’m supposed to know which one she means. This time I did: Ted, the oldest. She’d stayed at his place in Queens while I was away …

She what I mean? It’s like meeting someone new you feel you’ve known your whole life. Someone you trust.

However, some of the reviewers on amazon disagree …

If this book were a river it would be one that flows slowly, even sluggishly, towards the sea meandering this way and that seeming to go nowhere fast.

And that’s true, the book does take its time to get going, not helped by a series of diary entries by a young Jewish girl fleeing to Shanghai in 1938. Yet those same entries gradually create a gripping story within a story, and generate an extraordinary amount of emotion. That’s unusual – and refreshing – in a murder mystery. Can’t wait to dig out the next one.

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About microfilums

Writer & director.
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