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Posts Tagged ‘lydia chin’

We had a great time at the Concord Festival of Authors Friday night. The brainchild of book maven Rob Mitchell, the festival has been going strong for about 20 years and lasts a month. The authors and topics are always amazing.

The event we most wanted to see this year featured a panel of mystery writers: Archer Mayor,  Spencer Quinn, and one whose books I know well, S.J. Rozan. The fans of these three novelists — and of Concord-based moderator and author Mark De Binder — filled the lobby of the Concord Library to overflowing.

I already knew from the Lydia Chin/Bill Smith mysteries that S.J. had a wacky sense of humor, but Mayor and Quinn also were hilarious in talking about their work and their lives. My husband said, “Who knew mystery writers were funny?”

Read about S.J. at the festival here and at her own site here.

“In her new novel, Ghost Hero, American-born Chinese P.I. Lydia Chin is called in on what appears to be a simple case. An art world insider wants her to track down a rumor. Contemporary Chinese painting is sizzling hot on the art scene and no one is hotter than Chau Chun, known as the Ghost Hero. A talented and celebrated ink painter, Chau’s highly prized work mixes classical forms and modern political commentary. The rumor of new paintings by Chau is shaking up the art world. There’s only one problem—Ghost Hero Chau has been dead for twenty years, killed in the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising.” We enjoyed hearing S.J. read a passage from Ghost Hero, in which she had Bill Smith adopt her grandfather’s Russian accent and locution.

Quinn made me envious of his blog’s success. It attracts hordes of people who love his canine protagonist so much that they upload photos of their  pets to be the dog detective’s friend. Perhaps if I weren’t such an eclectic blogger …

If I had one reliable focus, though, I’d get bored.

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We read a lot of mysteries in our house. We especially like stories set in places we don’t know much about, although my husband enjoyed the Qiu Xiaolong books because he had lived in Shanghai himself.

I just finished a mystery by James Church (pseudonym for an author who is a “former Western intelligence officer”). He writes about North Korea. Since hardly anyone ever goes there, I tend to accept Church’s descriptions as better informed than your average Joe’s. And I find that whenever there’s a news story about that isolated country, it seems to mesh with the murder mysteries. The series starts with The Corpse in the Koryo.

Eliot Pattison’s Tibetan series, starting with The Skull Mantra, was a great hit with me — son John, too, until he got tired of exotic locales and started reading business books (snore). Pattison now alternates writing Tibetan mysteries with writing mysteries about pre-Revolution America and Indians. I heard him say at a book reading in Porter Square that he finds similarities in the spiritual beliefs and practices of Tibetan Buddhists and American Indians.

The wacky Colin Cotterill writes a series set in Laos, stating with The Coroner’s Lunch. We love his style and his unique characters. I’m just starting his new series, set in Thailand and featuring a malapropism of George W. Bush at the start of each chapter.

S.J. Rozan’s detective Lydia Chin operates mostly in New York’s Chinatown, but she does get to Hong Kong, and you can pick up a lot of Chinese culture from her. That series starts with China Trade.

Good novelists do a lot of research. You can get the flavor of a culture without going anywhere.

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