Mandarin Plaid by S.J. Rozan

St. Martin’s (first) ,1996

Rozan’s unique concept for her series featuring New York City private eyes Lydia Chin and her sometime partner Bill Smith is firmly established with Mandarin Plaid, the third in the series, the second in ABC (American-born Chinese) Lydia’s smart and lively voice. Last year’s Shamus-winning Concourse featuring the tough, almost-but-not-quite world weary Bill Smith was a corker, and although Lydia’s case seems pale by comparison, it stands up well on its own. The debut show for “Mandarin Plaid,” the collection created by fashion designer Genna Jing, is jeopardized when the sketches for the collection are stolen. Lydia is hired to pay the ransom and retrieve the drawings, but the drop goes sour, someone takes a shot at Lydia and she recruits Bill to pursue the perps. Suspecting Genna’s former producer Wayne Lewis, the pair arrive at his door to find he’s been murdered. Unfortunately for Bill and Lydia, NYPD’s Det. Harry Krch is too interested in their interest and still has it in for Bill; then there’s Roland Lum, a former friend of Lydia’s many brothers, who shows too much interest in Lydia. Although she’s fired by Genna’s boyfriend John Ryan, for reasons that may be suspect, Bill’s arrest keeps Lydia in it with a vengeance. It’s only when her brother Andrew and his lover Tony introduce Bill and Lydia to Genna’s enigmatic sister Dawn that things begin to fall into place. If less intense, less textured than Concourse, still an entertaining novel worthy of its siblings. (Kathy Phillips)

Originally published in Issue # 145 – September/December 1996

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