This time, Yu pairs the evidence, including a corpse in the river -- neatly executed with a precise cut to the heart -- with his own understanding of how the Chinese groups rub against each other and raise big money from people's urges to play, whether with numbers or games or sex. I especially appreciate the way Yu's perceptions highlight the separate factions among "the Chinese": immigrants from parts of "one country" that might as well be multiple nations, with different dialects, habits, expectations. I'm starting to tune in to my own time and place, asking, "Chinese from where?" when I meet someone new.
Chang takes a classic noir approach to his form, posing short, tight chapters that follow through on one of Jack Yu's actions or guesses. Action, threat, and the wages of curiosity push the pace. And then there's a breath, a pause, and Chang deepens the background detail, the way Yu sees the crowd at the notorious nightclub Fay Lo's:
The betting was moderate, mostly Chinese men chain-smoking around the tables. They looked like the workers he'd seen in the Golden City and China Village and in Chinatown, throwing down their tip money, the hustle pay of sweaty dollar bills, looking for the long odds -- twenty, thirty, a hundred to one.Yu's usual Chinese companion (on the other side, but able to keep their friendship) is still in a coma, so DEATH MONEY sees Yu tackle his assignment alone, barely accepted among the police, and taking a stand against people who connections make them powerful and strong. His only chance is to cut one out of the crowd at a time, and force the play.
The gang boys stood out from the civilian players. ... Swagger. Willing to fight and die for the gang family. Though it all aided law enforcement in identifying members by their gang tats and nicknames.
Chang is clearly set for a long series at this point, well beyond the Chinatown trilogy he started with. That's good news for mystery readers, collectors, and armchair explorers alike. Oh yes, it's from Soho Crime -- thanks again, S.C. team!