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CHINA TRADE (Lydia Chin and Bill Smith Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

SJ Rozan
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The first Lydia Chin/Bill Smith book, narrated by Lydia Chin.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Rozan's debut novel, focusing both on china, the porcelain, and on the homeland of many inhabitants of New York City's Chinatown, introduces likable Asian-American PI, Lydia Chin. Lydia, hired by the Chinatown Pride museum to recover stolen antique porcelains, confronts the leaders of rival Chinatown gangs in hopes of flushing out the robbers. With information gleaned from a meek scholar who habitually steals tiny porcelains from prominent collections, Lydia discovers an antiquities-laundering business that crosses all socioeconomic strata. Her sidekick, full-time sleuth Bill Smith, provides an element of sexual tension; the resolution hinges on a silly scheme in which Lydia sets herself up to be attacked by a hit man and rescued by her cooperative NYPD pals. Rozan shows a knack for characterizing Chinatown's denizens, apothecaries, shops and food, but her story has more flavor than substance.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

It's always exciting to read the first novel of a newcomer with a distinctive voice and the talent to put a new spin on an established genre. Such is the case with this page-turning mystery introducing Lydia Chin, a Chinese American private investigator living in New York City's Chinatown. When the Chinatown Museum is robbed of a set of rare porcelains, the chair of the board of directors calls in her friend Lydia, despite the opposition of Lydia's brother, Tim, a board member embarrassed by his sister's occupation (not suitable for a respectable Chinese woman) and afraid that her failure to solve the crime will make him lose face. Working with her sometime partner Bill Smith, Lydia finds a connection between the shadowy underworld of the tongs (Chinese gangs) and the black market in stolen art, which leads in turn to violence and danger--definitely unsuitable surroundings in the eyes of Lydia's family. Rozan's Chinatown setting has the ring of authenticity, and Lydia is a true original. A very promising start to what shapes up as a top-flight series. Stuart Miller

Product Details

  • File Size: 661 KB
  • Print Length: 275 pages
  • Publisher: SJ Rozan (March 27, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007PJOLF4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #221,505 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In a genre that is finally reasonalby well populated by woman and African Americans, an Asian slueth (of either gender) is still a rarity. Enter Lydia Chin, an ABC (American Born Chinese)who still lives with her mother in Manhattan's growing Chinatown. For me, a native of Oakland (which has a strong Asian community), the highlight of this book is the entire sensory experience. Rozan, an Anglo, does a wonderful job of writing a book that stimulates the senses of smell and taste. It doesn't hurt that Lydia loves to eat and shares her wonderful meals with the reader.
The mystery revolves around a couple of crates of missing Chinese porcelains (hence a wonderful pun in the title). Lydia and her sort of partner, Bill, explore a mix of Manhattan museums and gangs as they seek the china. The resolution is nicely complicated and shouldn't be obivous - at least to the Anglo reader.
What keeps the book from pure hard boiled status is Lydia's meddling family (they don't approve of her work); a convenient best friend who's a cop; and Lydia's ambiguous relationship with Bill (good ABC girls aren't supposed to be attracted to white dectectives).
Bottom line: A solid debut in a series I'm already looking forward to reading again.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read! August 3, 1998
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Rozan, who's also an architect, writes a terrific mystery. This book, the first in the series, introduces Lydia Chin, a twenty-something Chinese-American PI whose mom hates what she does for a living and whose White partner pines for her. Chin has a similar attitude to Sue Grafton's Kinsey Milhone, but is greener and more vulnerable. She's believable, likeable, and interesting. S.J. Rozan is definitely an up-and-comer in this genre.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Chinatown, New York Style April 9, 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"China Trade" is a busy book, crowded with images, locales and descriptions. We are immersed in an atmosphere of crowds, colors and lively people. Ms. Rozan has a light and delicate hand with prose.
Lydia Chin, the unlikely private investigator, is appealing in a girlish way. She is bright, protected, enjoys her creature comforts, and is well behaved in a child-like way. Where Lydia shines is in her fleeting observations of what she sees around her. She has an artist and poet's eye for color and description. Her sometimes partner, Bill Smith, is a series of one-liners in this dialogue-driven book. He clearly adores every word and gesture emanating from his beloved Lydia. Her kittenish behavior would drive the average man to the nearest hard-drinking lady rugby player, but not Bill. Lydia's mother is well drawn and humorous, but I met her first in an Amy Tan book.
The plot revolves around stolen export porcelain. I wish we had been given more education about this little known art market. It would have been interesting and helped us understand the motivations of the thief and killer. We have plenty of likely suspects and the story moves briskly. The characters are deftly drawn (except for the hapless Bill) and were interesting in their own right. Ms. Rozan's debut novel displays skill and originality.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Weak Start to the Seies December 21, 2011
By Ken C.
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
After enjoying S. J. Rozan's latest in the Lydia Chin series, Ghost Hero, to which I gave 5 stars, I thought to read more in the series, so started with the first one, China Trade. This novel starts weakly, seeming to be more Nancy Drew in Chinatown than anything else. The story of a theft of porcelain from the China Pride Center is relatively inconsequential. I could never relate to it as I did Ghost Hero. One complication was the utterly cheap paperback I bought from Amazon. I have not seen such a poor job on a book since the 35 cent novels of days gone by. Pulp fiction,for sure. There was so little margin on the tightly bound pages that i had to squeeze the book open at the center just to get all of the words on what must have been super bargain basement paper.
$7.99 for this, even though in the same order I received a beautiful trade paperback of Barry Eisler's latest novel for even less money.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding series July 22, 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
New York P.I. Lydia Chin is investigating the theft of Chinese export porcelains from the Chinatown Pride museum. With the help of her sometimes partner, Bill Smith, her investigation leads her through Chinatown into the world of Chinese gangs and what she finds there is heartbreaking and tragic. As a good Chinese daughter Lydia still lives with her mother, rare in a hard-boiled detective series. Of course, Lydia's very traditional family is horrified by her career choice which is in turn humorous and frustrating. This is fine start to an intriguing series with each book alternating between Lydia and Bill's point-of-view.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine Start to What Becomes a Finer Series November 3, 2006
Format:Mass Market Paperback
As the first of SJ Rozan's Lydia Chin/Bill Smith private investigations, we are given a good view of Lydia's life. We are also introduced to her mother and two of her four brothers, as well as another old friend who is a NYPD detective. The other minor characters of the story all appear to be real people and not just 'cut-outs from an a charlie chan movie'. Rozan shows a knack for characterizing Chinatown's denizens, apothecaries, shops and food. Lydia is an ABC, and american-born chinese, and as such has the same cultural problems of all first generation americans. Coming from a closed, respect conscious society, where women are meant to be wives, she is fighting an uphill battle to be her 'own' woman.

Lydia, is hired by the Chinatown Pride museum to recover stolen antique export porcelains. During her investigation she confronts the leaders of rival Chinatown gangs in hopes of flushing out the robbers. With information gleaned from a meek scholar who habitually steals tiny porcelains from prominent collections, Lydia discovers an antiquities- laundering business that crosses all socioeconomic strata. More than the theft, it's the two murders that accompany her investigation that both Lydia the most.

Her sidekick, full-time PI Bill Smith, provides a minor element of sexual tension; the resolution of the murders (but not the crime) depend on a scheme in which Lydia sets herself up to be attacked by a hit man and to be rescued by the NYPD. It almost works out, and the involvement of a childhood friend, makes the ending bitter sweet (just like real life).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This is the first one of her's I read now I'm reading them all.
Published 4 days ago by F. Fuller
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good!
Often with kindle books you get what you pay for and I always read free or 99 cent books, rarely better than 3 star material. China trade was a refreshing exception. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Redwoods Reader
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Good cultural exploration. Protagonist simplistic. Far too many typos
Published 5 months ago by nan
4.0 out of 5 stars Glad I Discovered This P.I. Series
This was the first time I'd read a P.I. yarn that had a pair of private eyes instead of a solo act, and I had some doubts about whether I'd like that arrangement. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Rumy
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I'm addicted to the characters.
Published 9 months ago by P. A. Sarr
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
This was a suspenseful mystery with a hint of romance and an abundance of action.
Published 9 months ago by WyTraveler
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
You need to read all Rozan's books. Two main characters, sometimes the book is about one and sometimes the other. Read for yourself.
Published 10 months ago by K. Yip
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the effort!
Heard many praises about the Chin/Smith series. Glad to find out it was all true. A complex series about growing up in China town and finding your own path as a female PI. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Capricorn
5.0 out of 5 stars SJ Rozan's Series is Addictive
Love this series. Each book develops the 2 characters and I find that I like both perspectives. Lydia is innocent, brave and smart. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Rebecca L. Silva
4.0 out of 5 stars Mysterious Orient
The interrelationships within the Chinese community are very interesting. Well fashioned plot. Orginal characters. Lydia Chin is a deligth! Read more
Published 15 months ago by Dora R Sher
Search Customer Reviews

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.

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