From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Set in New York City in 1976, Lin's accomplished second novel to feature NYPD detective Robert Chow (after 2007's This Is a Bust
) finds the Chinese-American cop, who's still haunted by memories of his service in the Vietnam War, relegated to undercover work posing as a Con Ed worker. Meanwhile, other officers in Chow's precinct are focused on apprehending the FALN terrorists who set off a bomb right outside police headquarters. The murders of two Asian men, who are shot and dumped under the Manhattan Bridge, take Chow away from the drudgery of his undercover assignment and onto the trail of the head of a ring of human smugglers known as snakeheads. Lin portrays the police, including his lead, warts and all, and paints a convincing picture of Manhattan's Chinatown. Readers interested in the integration of Asian-Americans into American society, as well as those who like gritty procedurals, will be well rewarded. (Mar.)
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Robert Chow may be about to escape his assignment as Chinatown’s token Chinese cop. Despite a superior officer who disapproves of him, Chow may be on the fast track for promotion—thanks mainly to his scoring two goals for NYPD in a hockey game against the fire department. So, when two bodies are found under the approach to the Brooklyn Bridge, Chow must find the “snakeheads”( human traffickers) responsible; standing in his way are money, fear, and the customs and mores of Chinatown. Like Lin’s first Chow novel, This Is a Bust (2007), this one is, quoting Ray Olson’s earlier Booklist review, a “murder mystery, sorta.” Despite frequent vows to take down the snakeheads, Chow doesn’t seem to do much detecting. He eats and he talks, and the dialogue is naturalistic, which is to say, interaction between two people paying little attention to the subject under discussion. But the chief virtue of Snakes Can’t Run is its vivid portrait of tiny, teeming, complex, fearful, ambitious, politicized, corrupt Chinatown, circa 1976. --Thomas Gaughan