I confess to bias. Just a small one. Not the kind that spawns ugliness. But the fact is, I’ve long resisted trying any P.I. stories that featured a duo of private eyes.
The pair always seems to be male-female, and I couldn’t shake an abiding certainty that the female would be window dressing to the male. Cute window dressing to entice women readers. Worse still, I suspected that when things got rough, the spunky gal would be bailed out by her wiser, tougher partner.
Boy, am I glad I put my bias aside long enough to discover the Lydia Chin – Bill Smith series by S.J. Rozan.
Lydia may be younger and newer at the P.I. game than Bill, but she’s the central character. She carries a gun. She’s got guts enough to go up against influential people and street toughs. She’s nobody’s dummy.
Having grown up Chinese-American, Lydia knows New York’s Chinatown as few outsiders do. As she walks through its streets, the reader smells its aromas, hears its sounds and sees its people. In China Trade, first book in the series, Chinatown’s complex workings fascinate without slowing a tightly woven plot about the theft of rare porcelains from a small museum.
And Bill? The other part of the duo is a likable, smart P.I. any mystery reader would enjoy. He’s steady. He has sources which complement Lydia’s. He respects her abilities and her judgment. You have to love his name, too. In an era of often ridiculous attempts at originality, his has the confidence of simplicity.
They make a good team, Bill and Lydia. And I’m glad there are lots more books to read in this series.
So if you, too, harbor a teeny-tiny bias — against books with certain settings, or by women authors, or published by indies, to name just a few — try to put it aside just once. You might be rewarded by hours and hours of new reading enjoyment.
M. Ruth Myers writes the Maggie Sullivan mysteries featuring a pre-WW2 woman P.I.