Amerasian private detective Rick Van Lam is hired to look into the deaths of beautiful Vietnamese twins.
Hank Nguyen, a distant relative of the twins, once despised Rick, the teacher of his criminal justice class, for being half-white. But now Rick is his mentor as he goes through the Connecticut State Police Academy. Mary Le Vu was the poor sister who hardly ever left her East Hartford neighborhood or her husband Benny’s failing grocery in Little Saigon. When she’s killed in a drive-by shooting in a dangerous area, the police put it down to bad luck, until the same thing happens to her wealthy sister, Molly Le Torcelli. Hank’s status as a relative gives Rick a chance to talk to all the family members, rich, poor and dysfunctional. The twins’ four children and the maid’s son were all sent to expensive private schools with varying results. Mary’s son, Tommy, a rebel who dropped out after being caught smoking pot, survives on menial jobs. His sister, Cindy, who’s bright but not a beauty like her mother, compensates by wearing loud clothes and clownlike makeup. The children of Larry Torcelli, a wealthy man with several car dealerships who paid for the children’s educations, are Yale grad and perennial student Jon and his gorgeous, dim-bulb younger sister, Kristen. The odd man out is handsome, brilliant, ambitious Danny Trinh, the son of Susie, the maid. Larry’s favorite, he has a good job with a large bank. Rick gathers information on this brood with the help of his ex-wife, Liz Sanburn, a police psychologist, and his partner, Jimmy Gadowicz. Together they try to figure out which of the usual motives—money, drugs, love—is behind the two murders.
The first entry in a planned series features a complex detective whose background as an Amerasian orphan born in Vietnam profoundly influences everything he does.