Reflecting the Sky
S. J. Rozan. Thomas Dunne Books, $24.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-312-24427-9
The seventh Bill Smith/Lydia Chin novel proves that Rozan's Shamus (for Concourse) and Anthony (for No Colder Place) awards were no fluke. This is a beautifully written book with a sophisticated plot, rich in both action and atmosphere. After 1999's Stone Quarry, told from Smith's point of view, this outing belongs to Chin. At 28, Lydia is a product of New York's Chinatown, where Grandfather Gao, a community elder, has watched over her family all her life. So it's a great honor when he asks her to travelDwith professional partner SmithDto Hong Kong to deliver three precious items: the ashes of an old friend for burial, a note from that friend to his brother and a valuable jade to the friend's seven-year-old grandson. The job seems too easy to require two licensed PI's, but there are complications: the friend had two wives and two sonsDone family in Hong Kong, one in the U.S. Neither son knew about the other until the will was read. Chin and Smith arrive at the Hong Kong son's apartment to find it ransacked and the grandson kidnapped. Lydia and Bill are both suspects and searchers, in a chase that pits them against a criminal triad and subjects them to the torrid heat and rushing crowds of Hong Kong. Rozan is an architect, and the structure of this book sets a high standard. Every twist of the plot rises from a foundation of truthful emotions and motives solidly rooted in the characters' cultures. Every bit of humor and evocative description serves the action; there's not a smidgen of clunky exposition as the Chin-Smith relationship continues to grow and fascinate. Agent, Steve Axelrod. (Feb. 6) Forecast: With an author tour and major promotion from the publisher, plus enthusiastic blurbs from some big mystery starsDDennis Lehane, George Pelecanos and Michael ConnellyDthis could well be Rozan's break-out book.
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001