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A Bitter Feast: A Bill Smith/Lydia Chin Novel (Bill Smith/Lydia Chin Novels) Mass Market Paperback – July 15, 1999

13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

There's lots of action, great food, and social insight into the attitudes of various generations of immigrants in S.J. Rozan's fifth book in her superlative Lydia Chin-Bill Smith series. There's also a remarkable moment when Lydia's mother actually admits that she approves of the way her daughter does her job. Mrs. Chin has always hated the fact that Lydia's work as a private detective puts her in danger and in the company of men, like Smith, who don't make suitable husbands. But when Lydia refuses to knuckle under to the demands of a venerable Chinatown patriarch, her mother astonishes her (and us) by praising her "professional manner"--and then goes on to give her a clue that helps her unravel a mystery involving the smuggling of people and drugs. With each novel, Rozan alternates the narrative focus between Lydia Chin and Bill Smith, and this time it's Lydia's turn to take center stage. She uses her ethnicity and acting talent to work undercover as a dim sum waitress at the Dragon Garden (where four illegal aliens have disappeared) and her deep roots in New York's Chinatown to note and comment on subtle changes in the power structure as new Fukienese-speaking immigrants replace the old Cantonese. She and Smith also move their complicated personal relationship forward a notch and consume vast amounts of wonderful food--Chinese, Jewish, even a homemade meatloaf--in a story that manages to satisify all the senses. Previous Chin-Smith outings in paperback: China Trade, Concourse, Mandarin Plaid, and No Colder Place. --Dick Adler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

While lots of amazing events happen in Rozan's fifth book in her superlative Lydia Chin/Bill Smith series, none surprises more than the moment when Lydia's mother actually admits that she approves of the way her daughter does her job. Mrs. Chin has always hated that her daughter's work as a PI puts her in danger and bad company, namely that of men, like Bill, who don't make suitable husbands. But when Lydia refuses to knuckle under to the demands of a Chinatown patriarch, her mother astonishes her by praising her "professional manner"?and then gives her a clue that helps her unravel a mystery involving the smuggling of people and drugs. Since Bill took center stage in the Shamus Award-winning Rozan's last book, No Colder Place (1997), this time it's Lydia's turn in the spotlight. Working undercover as a dim sum waitress at the Dragon Garden, where four illegal aliens have disappeared, Lydia calls upon her deep roots in New York's Chinatown to note and comment on subtle changes in the power structure as new Fukienese-speaking immigrants replace the old Cantonese. She and Bill also move their personal relationship forward a notch and consume vast amounts of wonderful food?Chinese, Jewish, even a homemade meatloaf?in a story that manages to satisify all the senses.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Bill Smith/Lydia Chin Novels (Book 5)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Dead Letter (July 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312970110
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312970116
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,391,125 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

SJ Rozan was born and raised in the Bronx and is proud of it. She spent over twenty years as an architect in New York City and is kind of proud of that, too. Now she writes and teaches. She's done 10 books in the Lydia Chin/Bill Smith series (the newest, ON THE LINE, comes out Sept. 28, 2010) and two standalones. She's also published three dozen short stories. A collection of her stories, A TALE ABOUT A TIGER, is available, and a second volume is coming.

SJ's work has won the Edgar, Anthony, Shamus, Nero and Macavity Awards, and she's a recipient of the Japanese Maltese Falcon. She's served on the National Boards of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. She's a past President of the Private Eye Writers of America. She's been Guest of Honor at Left Coast Crime (El Paso, 2003), Toastmaster at Bouchercon (Indianapolis, 2009), an invited speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland (2003) and as if that weren't enough, she has the key to the city of Fort Worth, Texas.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 24, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
With this sumptuously hard-boiled fifth installment in her acclaimed Lydia Chin-Bill Smith series -- which gracefully alternates between the voice of Lydia, a gutsy PI born and raised in New York's Chinatown, and her off-again, on-again partner, Bill -- Shamus-winning Rozan will no doubt regale her fans.
Hired to find four waiters who've gone missing from the Dragon Garden, a busy dim sum establishment owned by a local Cantonese power player, Lydia gets herself a job as a waitress and goes to work on the joint, all the while offering insight into how the community power structure has been transformed as Fukienese-speaking immigrants have superseded the older Cantonese.
And soon enough Lydia and Bill uncover a mystery -- involving drug-smuggling, alien-smuggling and dissident-smuggling -- that brings that ethnic conflict into sharp focus. All in all, a beautiful and gripping novel, brimming with spice, complexity and suspense. (And food -- enormous, mouth-watering quantities of it.) --APBnews.com
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 28, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Ever since I began reading S.J. Rozan, I've been convinced that she is secretly Chinese. Being part Chinese myself, I've found that she more than any other author has conveyed to me what it's like to be a young Chinese American living with an exasperating traditional mother and fighting against racism and sexism to be a P.I. Lydia Chin is a wonderfully believable and likeable character, and in this novel she must resist the pressure to be a stereotypical good Chinese girl and give up her search to find four Chinese waiters who are involved the unionization of a Chinese restaurant. I've also been in love with Lydia's partner, Bill Smith, and throughout her five mysteries have rooted for the two of them to get together. Congratulations to Rozan for creating another enjoyable and exciting mystery.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Roger Lee on February 16, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have read Rozan's first five novels and they are all very good but this is clearly her best yet. This book has it all: a complex, realistic plot that keeps you guessing until the end, interesting, well-developed characters, great dialogue and a very exciting conclusion. Bill and Lydia are more interesting and entertaining than ever. The thing that impresses me most about this book, however, is simply how well it is written. Rozan's writing is clean and precise and her discriptions of Chinatown are so good I almost felt like I was there. Rozan is now my favorite mystery writer and I hope she writes many, many more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 20, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Private Investigator Lydia Chin has been hired to find a missing person, who disappeared in the middle of New York's Chinatown. The seemingly simple case begins when she works undercover as a waitress in a Chinatown restaurant, a place where allegedly four illegal aliens vanished without a trace.

However, her inquiries are slowed down by the demographic change in the local community. Apparently, the newly arrived Fukiense-speaking Chinese are more and more taking over from the previous generation Cantonese immigrants. This makes it more difficult on Lydia, who has lived her entire life in the neighborhood, to obtain information. Still, with the help of her professional and growing personal partner Bill Smith, and shockingly (at least to this reviewer) her mother, Lydia plows ahead with her investigation.

This series is more of a movable feast rather than A BITTER FEAST because of the wonderful reoccurring characters and the insiders look into Manh! attan, especially Chinatown. The ethnic foods (not just Chinese) add a fabulous taste to a great who-done-it. Award winning S.J. Rozan has scribed another winning entry to a triumphant mystery series.

Harriet Klausner
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kim K. on July 29, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
S. J. Rozan just gets better with every book! I have read all her books so far and anxiously await the next one! Her writing is so refreshing, she makes you care about the main characters, Lydia Chin and Bill Smith, and you get caught up in what's happening from the very first chapter. Once you find yourself turning the pages, you hate to finish the book so soon but you just can't resist. This series is one of the best to come along in years and long may S. J. Rozan write!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Donald E. Gilliland on May 12, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I like this Lydia Chin series of mystery novels by Rozan, but something stops me from truly truly loving them. The books are easy reads, but they don't really grip me. The characters are engaging, and the atmosphere that Rozan creates is very well done, but there just seems to be something missing from the grand scheme. I don't miss the violence and bloodshed found in more hard-boiled mysteries (and contrary to one review I read, this is NOT hard-boiled stuff), but despite all the action taking place within these pages, there is negligible tension or suspense. Keeping up with all the myriad Chinese names this time around was also quite confusing. On the other hand, the strength of this novel, I thought, was the way that Rozan takes the reader into the culture and traditions of New York's Chinatown. The reader ends learning a lot. As usual, Lydia the P.I. is a charming character, and her relationship with "partner" Bill Smith creates another dynamic in the story. Also of interest in this particular book was the smuggling angle. What is being smuggled; people or drugs ... or both? And who exactly is going the smuggling? And what about those gangs? And the organized labor angle? And are federal agents also involved in this mess? It's all quite convoluted. But with all these elements in play I never felt any real tension. This is more of a breezy read than a gripping one. The dialogue more glib than sharp. If all that sounds too negative, don't let it prevent you from reading this book. Overall, this novel is actually quite good, another one that should please fans who've read other books in the series, or even anyone trying out Rozan for the first time.
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