Review: NYPD detective Jack Yu is called to the scene of an unidentified, but definitely Asian, man found snagged on a branch in the Harlem River. Murder or suicide, Jack isn't sure, but he knows that suspicious cases involving Asian victims almost certainly have a Chinatown connection, in Death Money, the fourth mystery in this series by Henry Chang.
It turns out the young man was murdered, with a single knife wound to the heart. But the man himself, is an enigma. The man's pants pockets contained a torn piece of a Chinese take-out menu with numbers and Chinese characters scribbled on it, Jack's only clue … but a starting point. It leads him to a restaurant where the man worked, where he's identified as Jun Wah Zhang. But the part-time deliveryman hadn't held the job long; indeed, Jack discovers he'd worked for several of the take-out places in Chinatown, never spending much time at each, usually leaving after a dispute of some sort. But could a simple dispute over a delivery have cost him his life?
Now he had even more questions than answers, and questions in Chinatown rarely led in just one direction.
Death Money marks the return of Jack Yu after an absence of several years. The storyline takes place in the mid-1990s and seems, at least from a motive perspective, to be far more complicated than it should or even needs to be. Jack's investigation moves along at a brisk pace — indeed, the whole book is just over 200 pages long, just about a perfect length for the story — and while it is well-structured, there are no surprises along the way. The overall message seems to be that life is complicated, and life in Chinatown is especially complicated. An interesting and engaging mystery, to be sure, but one that is somehow incomplete, a solution but one without answers.
Acknowledgment: Soho Press provided an ARC of Death Money for this review.
Review Copyright © 2014 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Soho Crime (Hardcover), October 2010
ISBN-13: 9781569478592; ISBN-10: 1569478597
Location(s) referenced in Death Money: New York City
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Death Money by Henry Chang — A Jack Yu Mystery
Publisher: Soho Crime
Publication Date: April 2014
List Price: $25.00
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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