Caught Dead: A Rick Van Lam Mystery
Poisoned Pen, Nov 4 2014, $24.95
The Hartford Vietnamese population is stunned with the drive-by shooting homicide of one of the “beautiful Le sisters,” Mary Le Vu in the Goodwin Square gang and drug deadly zone. HPD Detective Ardlino believes Mary’s murder is just another victim of a-hole gang members who frustratingly never will be caught. Mary’s distant relative Hank Nguyen, Grandma the Buddhist and the victim’s twin claim she never left her home in Little Saigon or her husband Benny’s grocery.
Grandma insists that flabbergasted insurance fraud investigator Rick Van Lam look into Mary’s death; which the astonished chosen sleuth says involves a drug dealer with a semi and a posse. As Rick persistently states he is not on a case, he asks questions trying to ascertain why Mary was where she was. A second family murder changes the official premise from Mary being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
This is an excellent Vietnamese-American murder mystery in which the sleuthing provides a fantastic look at the subculture; a glimpse I personally appreciate since I live in a county with a large Vietnamese population. The cast makes this a winner as each person is an enigma wrapped in an epidermal shell.