The Chinese Jars

William C. Gordon. Bay Tree (, $14.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-0-9819577-8-4
Gordon’s dispassionate storytelling robs his debut, the first in a new noir mystery series, of much vibrancy, but Samuel Hamilton’s metamorphosis from unsuccessful newspaper ad salesman to investigative reporter in 1960 San Francisco still succeeds in painting an engaging portrait of a bygone era. The obituary of 35-year-old Reginald Rockwood III describes him as “an heir to the fortune of one of California’s wealthiest families.” Yet the eccentric Reginald, Samuel’s drinking buddy at his favorite bar, Camelot, was a notorious cheapskate, according to Camelot co-owner Melba Sundling, who bets $10 Samuel “can’t find one person this guy ever spent a dime on.” Samuel’s initially cursory look into the “accident” that killed Reginald takes him into Chinatown, where he encounters bent cops, traffic in illegal Chinese art objects, and Mr. Song’s sinister Many Chinese Herbs emporium. In his search for the truth, Samuel gains confidence, sobriety, and a renewed sense of purpose. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/14/2011
Release date: 11/01/2011
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