cover image The Man with No Time: A Simeon Grist Mystery

The Man with No Time: A Simeon Grist Mystery

Timothy Hallinan. William Morrow & Company, $22 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-688-10344-6

The trail of two missing Chinese children shouldn't lead to a slave market, and Simeon Grist should still be languishing somewhere in academia, not sleuthing his way through Los Angeles. Blunt wit and copious running gags have fueled this first-rate series ( Skin Deep , etc.), whose latest entry features a mostly Asian cast, including Grist's former lover Eleanor, whose brother's two children have been abducted. Horace, the father, promptly vanishes into Chinatown after them, and a beloved uncle gradually emerges as the chief suspect. The kids turn up later, but Horace is still AWOL. Simeon then stumbles into the world of Charlie Wah, who struggles with his English but more than masters the art of killing. Before long, Grist has saved a young Vietnamese boy (then gotten him blind drunk), enlisted a few other unsavory deadbeats and set forth to free a ship full of slaves, with one of the chief slavemasters looking more and more like Eleanor's aunt. The author's relentless quest for wit means that no opportunity for a smart-ass one-liner is ever willingly squandered, and some latitude is definitely required from the more single-minded clue-hunters, as well as from the squeamish, who may find Grist's first grisly encounter with Wah unnecessarily brutal. A not quite up-to-par addition to the Grist canon. (July)