Though two of her brothers were born in Hong Kong, New York shamus Lydia Chin has never been there, so she’s eager to run the errand her old family friend Grandfather Gao asks by delivering the ashes of another family friend, Wei Yao-Shi, to his son Steven for burial. He also asks her to carry along a letter for Wei’s brother Wei Ang-Ran, his partner in Lion Rock Enterprises, and a jade Buddha for Steven’s seven-year-old son Harry. The case sounds so routine that Lydia wonders why Grandfather Gao insisted that her partner Bill Smith accompany her—until they arrive at Steven’s high-rise to find the place tossed and Harry and his nanny missing. It’s a kidnapping, all right, but who’s got the boy: the caller who wants the jade Buddha as the price of his safe return, or the unrelated caller who wants $20 million Hong Kong dollars? Why is the first ransom demand so inconsequential and the second so impossibly heavy? And how is the abduction connected to a deep-laid smuggling plot headed by the Strength and Harmony triad? Shuttling between oracular Chinese apothegms and steadily mounting action, Rozan ladles out the complications with a generous hand, yet keeps everything as clear as it was in Lydia’s last case (A Bitter Feast, 1998).
Even visitors to Hong Kong with no more experience than Lydia will find a lot more to treasure in the city than exotic backgrounds. Bill, whose alternation with his partner (Stone Quarry, 1999, etc.) brings him up to bat next, will find it tough to top her this time.