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The Shanghai Moon (Lydia Chin/Bill Smith Novel)by S J Rozan
Synopses & Reviews
With The Shanghai Moon, S. J. Rozan returns to her award-winning, critically acclaimed, and much-loved characters Lydia Chin and Bill Smith in the first new novel in the series in seven years.
Estranged for months from fellow P.I. Bill Smith, Chinese-American private investigator Lydia Chin is brought in by colleague and former mentor Joel Pilarsky to help with a case that crosses continents, cultures, and decades.
In Shanghai, excavation has unearthed a cache of European jewelry dating back to World War II, when Shanghai was an open city providing safe haven for thousands of Jewish refugees. The jewelry, identifed as having belonged to one such refugee - Rosalie Gilder - was immediately stolen by a Chinese official who fled to New York City. Hired by a lawyer specializing in the recovery of Holocaust assets, Chin and Pilarsky are to find any and all leads to the missing jewels.
However, Lydia soon learns that there is much more to the story than they've been told: The Shanghai Moon, one of the world's most sought after missing jewels, reputed to be worth millions, is believed to have been part of the same stash. Before Lydia can act on this new information, Joel Pilarsky is murdered, Lydia is fired from the case, and Bill Smith finally reappears on the scene. Now Lydia and Bill must unravel the truth about the Shanghai Moon and the events that surrounded its disappearance sixty years ago during the chaos of war and revolution, if they are to stop more killings and uncover the truth of what is going on today.
"The hunt for a valuable brooch propels Edgar-winner Rozan's ninth Lydia Chin and Bill Smith nail-biter (after 2002's Winter and Night). In 1938, Rosalie Gilder, an 18-year-old Jewish refugee, left Nazi-annexed Austria for Japanese-occupied Shanghai, where she married the aristocratic Chen Kai-Rong. Chen had a jeweler create the Shanghai Moon, a brooch combining Rosalie's mother's diamonds with his ancestors' rare jade. Its disappearance during WWII interests treasure hunters in the present day. When Wong Pan, a corrupt Chinese official, steals Rosalie's jewelry box, recently unearthed in Shanghai, a Swiss asset-recovery specialist hires Joel Pilarsky, Lydia's friend and associate, to recover it in New York City, where Wong has fled in hopes of selling Rosalie's jewels on the black market. After Joel's murdered, Lydia and Bill follow a trail to Manhattan's Chinatown, where they encounter Rosalie's son and other relatives eager to recover the brooch. More surprises abound before Lydia and Bill can put the curse of the luminous Shanghai Moon to rest in Rozan's rich blend of historical mystery and contemporary suspense. Author tour. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Many years ago, I realized a girlhood dream: I joined the ranks of those anonymous contract writers known collectively as "Carolyn Keene" and wrote a Nancy Drew mystery. With visions of blue roadsters and unsavory hooligans dancing in my head, I sent the manuscript off to the publisher. It was rejected. The reason? My plot, an editor told me, was "too sexually suggestive." I was... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) mortified. I thought I'd crafted a thrilling but at the same time decorous and educational tale in which Nancy, Bess and George chased after a stolen antique infant feeding instrument (a "pap boat") that had once belonged to Thomas Jefferson. It turned out, however, that according to the keepers of the Nancy Drew flame, the mention of infant feeding instruments brought up — I kid you not — the "uncomfortable suggestion that Nancy herself has breasts." As Bess Marvin, Nancy's ultra-femme friend, might say, "Eeek!" The plots of the classic Nancy Drew mysteries focus resolutely on the safe topic of stolen jewels, especially jewels with interesting histories. I never got around to substituting pearls for pap boats, but no matter. Whether intentionally or not, in "The Shanghai Moon" S.J. Rozan has written a far more ambitious and absorbing riff on the classic Nancy Drew mystery than I ever could have. Ethnicity aside, Rozan's Lydia Chin is a private investigator very much in the Nancy mold (that is, if Nancy were grown up and Chinese American), carrying forward — in this, her 11th outing — the young female detective's brisk approaches to crime-solving and complications of the heart. Let's begin with the latter. Lydia's occasional partner in crime-fighting, Bill Smith, has been AWOL for months, trying to get his sense of perspective back after a particularly devastating case. When someone else very close to Lydia is murdered, Bill abruptly reappears to help solve the mystery. As ever, the sparks between the two could ignite a Chinese New Year firecracker, and Lydia's old-school mom's disapproval of Mr. White Bread just stokes their relationship. Despite her longings, however, ladylike Lydia keeps Bill at a chaste distance, allowing only the kind of hugs that Nancy Drew would permit from Ned Nickerson. If Lydia and Bill's dance of attraction/distraction is a staple of this series, so are Rozan's exquisitely crafted plots. (She's won the Edgar Award twice, the Shamus, the Anthony and on and on.) "The Shanghai Moon" is a standout in this series in terms of narrative sweep and the lush aura of romance. Here's the gist: Lydia is hired to help trace a cache of jewels (girl sleuth alert!) that's recently been unearthed in a garden in Shanghai and swiped by a corrupt Chinese official who's now believed to be hiding in Lydia's home turf: New York's Chinatown. Lydia's client tells her that the box containing the jewelry had been buried since World War II. It may or may not include a brooch called the Shanghai Moon, which has become the stuff that dreams are made of. Even Bill claims to have heard of it while serving in the Navy in Asia. Learning of her latest case, he scoffs to Lydia: "It was the Pacific seaman's equivalent of the Brooklyn Bridge. If you were particularly clueless, some guy would always offer to sell you the Shanghai Moon." Lydia's race to find the stolen gems — and possibly even the legendary brooch — before various plug uglies can lay their paws on the treasure constitutes one plotline here. There's also an even more tumultuous background narrative that comprises a series of letters taking readers back to wartime Shanghai. Reading the letters as her investigation grows more desperate, Lydia clearly feels a connection to a spunky World War II counterpart. Such is the power of Rozan's engrossing storytelling that readers, even the most hard-boiled among us, will feel that connection, too. Turns out that the Nancy Drew purists know what they're talking about, after all. As "The Shanghai Moon" demonstrates, there's plenty of possibility lurking in the old missing-gems plot. It just takes a master like S.J. Rozan to restore the luster of a classic. Reviewed by Maureen Corrigan, who is the book critic for the National Public Radio program 'Fresh Air.' She teaches a course in detective fiction at Georgetown University., Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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Rozan returns to her award-winning, critically acclaimed series featuring Lydia Chin and Bill Smith. Estranged for months from fellow P.I. Smith, Chinese-American private investigator Chin is brought in by former mentor Joel Pilarsky to help with a case that crosses continents, cultures, and decades.
About the Author
S.J. ROZAN was born and raised in the Bronx and is a long-time Manhattan resident. An architect for many years, she is now a full-time writer. Her critically acclaimed, award-winning novels and stories have won most of crime fiction's greatest honors, including the Edgar, Anthony, Shamus, Macavity and the Nero Award.
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