S. J. ROZAN – Concourse. Lydia Chia and Bill Smith #2. St. Martin’s, hardcover, 1995; paperback, 1996. Shamus Awards Best Novel winner (1996).

   I thought that the first Rozan book, 1994’s China Trade, was one of the better first novels of the year, and for that matter one of the better PI novels of the year, period. Despite the ethnicity of that book’s heroine, Rozan herself is not Oriental.

   Bill Smith, the private detective who assisted Chin in the first book, takes center stage here. His former mentor, who operates a security service, calls him for help when one of his operatives is brutally beaten to death. The young man, who was also his nephew, was working as a guard at the Bronx Home for the Aged, which is situated in the midst of a particularly violent gang area – and the police and others suspect that the murder is gang-related. Bill isn’t so sure, even though he manages rather quickly to run afoul of the area’s major gang himself.

   This isn’t really a Lydia Chin book, though she is frequently in and out of the narrative, any more than the first was a Bill Smith book. It’s told first-person from his viewpoint, and Rozan appears to be one of the few women who can write from a male viewpoint effectively and credibly.

   This lady does just about everything right. Her characters are likable and believable, her pacing is excellent, and her prose is smooth and readable. On the basis of two books, I’d have to say that she is one of the better of the 90s crop. It will be interesting to see where she goes with Chin and Smith, both in terms of their relationship and to see if she continues to alternate between the two as narrators. I’ll certainly be on hand to see.

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #21, August-September 1995


      The Bill Smith & Lydia Chin series —

1. China Trade (1994)
2. Concourse (1995)
3. Mandarin Plaid (1996)
4. No Colder Place (1997)
5. A Bitter Feast (1998)
6. Stone Quarry (1999)
7. Reflecting the Sky (2001)
8. Winter and Night (2002)
9. The Shanghai Moon (2009)
10. On the Line (2010)
11. Ghost Hero (2011)
12. Paper Son (2019)
13. The Art of Violence (2020)
14. Family Business (2021)