First Sentence: "Mississippi?"
New York City native, with a traditional Chinese mother, PI Lydia Chin is surprised when she learns she has relatives in Mississippi, including a cousin, Jefferson Tam, who has been arrested, and Captain Pete Tam who is asking for help. It's up to Lydia, with her partner Bill Smith, to prevent her cousin from being tried for murder.
One just can't beat a great opening with a touch of humor, especially when it's done so well. That's what keeps one reading.
For those who have followed this series, it is wonderful to have a new entry. For new readers, welcome and never fear. Starting here, at the 12th book, isn't a problem as Rozen smoothly brings one into the fold.
Rozan does an excellent job of using Lydia's family history to inform one of American history. Learning the history of Lydia's parents adds dimension to the character and establishes the theme. She also presents a very timely observation—"there's always somebody hatin' on everybody." … "Don't everybody always think their hate is different?"
Rozan paints a clear picture of life in small-town Mississippi. What is particularly interesting is learning the history of Chinese groceries in black towns which built an economy of its own. The immigration path of Mississippi is fascinating.
The characters are well-developed and interesting. It's fun to see urban Lydia so far out of her comfort zone, and Bill take advantage of his somewhat Southern roots. Lydia and Bill balance one another perfectly in every way. They are yin and yang not only in race, but in size, Luddite vs technology, and food choices. This makes them real and appealing. Each of the other characters holds their own, as well. There is one character toward the end that is a particular treat.
The plot is very well done with just the right level of suspense. The plot does get a bit twisty, but not so much that one can't follow it, and it takes one on a fascinating journey of places and people.
"Paper Son" is an excellent, traditional mystery which includes delightful characters, just enough humor and a wonderful ending.
PAPER SON (PI-Lydia Chin/Bill Smith-Mississippi-Contemp) - Ex
Rozen, S.J. – 12th in seriesPegasus Books, July 2019