“I’m back,” Lydia Chin tells her mother, and so she is, following the long hiatus since Winter and Night (2002), to track down a fabled brooch that’s at the root of violence past and present.
Seventy years after Rosalie Gilder and her brother Paul fled Nazi Germany for Shanghai, an excavation unearthed a cache of her jewelry, which promptly vanished again. Now Joel Pilarsky’s client, Holocaust asset-recovery specialist Alice Fairchild, wants to see whether any of the pieces have turned up in New York’s Chinatown, and Joel naturally thinks of his friend Lydia for the job. No sooner has Lydia established a close link between the Gilder family and the Bright Hopes jewelry store than a murder turns up the heat on her investigation and reunites Lydia with her partner Bill Smith. The fate of the Shanghai Moon, a brooch celebrating Rosalie’s marriage to Chen Kai-Rong, is clearly tied to three men close to Bright Hopes: proprietor Chen Lao-li, his cousin Zhang Li and Zhang’s half-brother C.D. Zhang. Persisting with her inquiries even after she’s fired from the case and waving off the polite assurances she’s given by Chen and the Zhangs, Lydia struggles to make sense of decades-long relationships and shifting family loyalties. She reaches a turning point when she realizes that Alice’s clients are bogus—and so perhaps is the Shanghai Moon.
Rozan (In This Rain, 2006, etc.) plots as expansively and ambitiously as ever, though the 1938 back story is more touching—and certainly easier to follow—than the present-day mayhem. Welcome back, Lydia and Bill.