Monday, October 6, 2008

Year of the Dog-Henry Chang

Year of the Dog
Henry Chang
Soho, Nov 2008, $24.00
ISBN: 1569475156

In Lower Manhattan in a condominium in a luxurious high rise, four Chinese-Americans are dead due to eight times the normal level of CO in the apartment; two of the deceased are young elementary school age children. NYPD Detective Jack Yu is shook though he hides it as a family wiped out. He concludes a triple murder-suicide occurred with the motive being saving face; something he understands as being an extremely powerful driver amidst the Chinese even third generation American.

Jack is concerned with his friends’ connections to Hong King mobsters. He understands no good can come of that in the long run, but he vows to be there for them as best he can. His childhood pal Tat "Lucky" Louie now runs the local mob while a rookie Koo Jai tries to foolishly pull a stunt on the gang leader. Bookie Sai Go knows he is dying, but his only request is to die with self-respect and not with someone else changing his diapers. To Jack this is his Chinatown.

Not really a police procedural although there are some elements of that sub-genre in the plot, YEAR OF THE DOG is more a culture study of the Manhattan Chinese-American lifestyle. The story line goes extremely deep into the “DNA: of the NYC Chinese-American especially the “save face” driver that has led to murder and suicide. Although the ending is a let down, fans will enjoy Jack’s CHINATOWN BEAT as Henry Chang provides an appealing tale.

Harriet Klausner

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