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Now Jack has been promoted out of the Chinatown Precinct. Detective Jack Yu is assigned to the Chinatown precinct as the only officer of Chinese descent. He investigates a series of attacks on children and a missing mistress, shifting between the world of street thugs and gangs and the Chinatown of the rich and powerful. His childhood friends are now hardened gangsters, his father is dying, and he is constantly reminded of this teenage blood brother, murdered in front of him years before. Then community leader and tong boss Uncle Four is gunned down and his mistress goes missing.
He will have to draw on his knowledge in order to catch this killer in a crime-ridden precinct where brotherhoods are just as likely to distribute charity as mete out vigilante justice.
A Detective Jack Yu Investigation Series by Henry Chang
Other Series By Henry Chang. More about Henry Chang. Detective Jack Yu grew up in Chinatown. Some of his friends are criminals now; some are dead. Jack has just bee Detective Jack Yu is assigned to the Chinatown precinct as the only officer of Chinese descent. Jack has just been transferred to his old neighborhood, where 99 percent of the cops are white. He is confronted with a serial rapist who preys on young Chinese girls.
Jack learns that benevolent Uncle Four had a gorgeous young mistress imported from Hong Kong. And she is missing. To solve these crimes, Jack turns to an elderly fortune teller, an old friend of his, in addition to employing modern police methods.
This debut mystery powerfully conveys the sights, sounds, and smells of Chinatown, as well as the attitudes of its inhabitants. Hardcover , pages. A Detective Jack Yu Investigation 1. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Chinatown Beat , please sign up.
Lists with This Book. Nov 01, Rosa rated it liked it. I wasn't going to write a review for this book because I don't have much to say that isn't an echo of previous reviewers' comments - like many before me, I found the book entertaining and gritty-realistic enough, but somewhat flat in characterization and in the execution of its prose. The main reason I'm adding my two cents is because it seems no other Chinese American with some familiarity with Cantonese slang has done so up to this point, either here or on Amazon or if they have, they didn't I wasn't going to write a review for this book because I don't have much to say that isn't an echo of previous reviewers' comments - like many before me, I found the book entertaining and gritty-realistic enough, but somewhat flat in characterization and in the execution of its prose.
The main reason I'm adding my two cents is because it seems no other Chinese American with some familiarity with Cantonese slang has done so up to this point, either here or on Amazon or if they have, they didn't "cop" ha! I did appreciate the fact that Chang inserts Cantonese words and profanities throughout the novel without worrying about alienating audiences, and that the book doesn't just come off seeming like a Lonely Planet guide to Chinatown and its inhabitants which is how a lot of novels that provide an "insider's look" into a supposedly closed-off culture come across.
In fact, I sometimes wondered if he weren't writing for Chinese Americans; along the same lines, though, I sometimes wondered if he were writing specifically for Chinese American men. Some of the things the protagonist gripes about Chinese American women who think landing a white man is the ultimate symbol of success, the invisible status of Asian American men are familiar grievances to anyone who follows Asian American issues, and some of those grievances often start going in a direction that I as a Chinese American woman find a bit misogynistic for comfort the fact that Chang opens the book by paying tribute to Frank Chin, who actually griped about the multitude of female writers representing the Chinese American experience, is illuminating.
But it's Chang's book, Chang's ideas - if he wants it to be a forum for all that, so be it. My main point is that whether or not I agree with the ideas, I can admire the fact that they're presented well, but Chang's presentation leaves much to be desired. The prose is so uneven that I could never really tell what he was really trying to say - there's little separation between the protagonist's voice and the omniscient voice of the novel. But the novel isn't written from a limited omniscient viewpoint - we follow all the characters and know all their thoughts, whether or not the protagonist knows them.
So are all these gripes just Jack's issues, and are we supposed to be critical of him for these grievances at the very least, they make him come off as incredibly whiny when he's supposed to be this tough, jaded detective , or is Chang making a bigger statement? EW describes Chang's works as "The Wire set in Chinatown," but I don't think his abilities are anywhere near the level of artistry or basic proficiency that the writers of The Wire demonstrated in the even the weakest episodes I much prefer Chang Rae Lee's Native Speaker, which, while admittedly a bit on the artsy-fartsy side I've recommended it to countless friends who haven't been able to finish it , explores the whole idea of Asian American male identity via the conventions of the private detective genre much more brilliantly than this novel ever comes close to doing.
Jan 19, Maddy rated it it was amazing Shelves: Henry Chang grew up in New York's Chinatown, and his experiences have provided an authenticity to the setting that could only be delivered by someone who was intimate with the nuances of the area. In addition, Chang has done an extraordinary job in rendering the cultural setting, the best job that I've seen of that in a very long time. Detective Jack Yu is an American cop who was born and raised in Chinatown. Surprisingly, he is one of the very few members of the police department who are of Asian ethnicity. In fact, he is the only Asian in his precinct, which is responsible for maintaining law and order in Chinatown.
Obviously, this leads to many problems, as the cops on the beat don't understand the language, culture and attitudes of the people they are supposed to be helping. Surprisingly, there is a high degree of racism as well, with the Chinese the lowest in the racial pecking order, beneath blacks and Hispanics.
Jack has a delicate juggling act every day of his life, being part of a mostly white police force that doesn't really care about the Chinese it is entrusted to protect, and being a member of the Chinese community. In addition, Jack is coping with the death of his father and the realities of childhood friendships gone awry. Many of his former friends are either dead or deeply engaged in criminal activity.
His current case involves a serial rapist who is preying on young girls in the neighborhood. In addition, the entire area is under tension as the result of the assassination of one of the local Triad leaders, Uncle Four. The former investigation pits Jack directly against some of his childhood friends; the latter leads him to a series of puzzles involving Uncle Four's beautiful mistress who has disappeared. These two cases provide a stark contrast between the world of street thugs and gangs and the Chinatown of the rich and powerful. Chinatown Beat provided an astonishingly different view of a community that is generally seen as a vibrant and thriving enclave where tourists revel in its eccentricities.
Instead, we are exposed to all of its darkness, its perversities and violence. Chang shows us every alley, every gambling joint, while enveloping the reader in the sights, sounds and smells of a totally unique world. He doesn't immerse us in a Chinatown that is sunny and bright, but he does shine a light on a place that the average reader has never seen before.
The overt racism was particularly unsettling to me. Chinatown Beat is noir at its best, a book that shakes you to the core as you look at a world where evil has so much more chance of prevailing than good.
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Feb 11, Ed rated it really liked it Shelves: The friend he ran with as a teenager is gangster with a crew working for one of the many Triads with links to organized crime in Hong Kong, Shanghai and in every Chinatown in North Americ "Chinatown Beat" isn't a mystery--we watch the murder that is central to the plot take place from the point of view of the killer.
The friend he ran with as a teenager is gangster with a crew working for one of the many Triads with links to organized crime in Hong Kong, Shanghai and in every Chinatown in North America. There are elements of police procedural here as we follow Jack Yu on his Chinatown rounds although the Henry Chang is most interested in making sure the reader knows how undocumented Chinese immigrants live, suffer and die in the gang controlled urban wilderness that is the Lower East Side, Chinatown and Alphabet City in Manhattan.
They are taken advantage of by the "snakehead" immigrant smugglers, the Chinese owned businesses where they work to pay off the cost of their trip. They are preyed upon by Black and Latin gangs from the Riis Homes and other projects but are afraid of the police and the white power structure. Despite the axes he obviously grinds, Chang develops his characters very well--we are interested in what is happening to Jack and those around him, feel some of his pain at the lonely death of his father and wonder if he will get anywhere with the attractive Chinese American attorney who sees him as just another person out to harm her clients.
There are problems at the very end of the book once the characters leave Manhattan and the last page might as well have "to be continued" stamped on it. Other than those quibbles it is a fine book well worth reading. Dec 23, J. Jack Yu is a man haunted by his past and uncertain in his place.
A New York City detective assigned to the Fifth Precinct in Chinatown, he faces daily prejudice from his brother officers and contempt in the community he serves. But he is a good detective, and thi Jack Yu is a man haunted by his past and uncertain in his place. But he is a good detective, and this is most ably demonstrated when he takes the lead in a case where a serial rapist is targeting young Chinese girls. This plotline is subsumed when Jack is drawn into another case where the mistress of a Tong leader takes drastic action to gain her freedom, resulting in a cross-country chase and a life-changing conclusion.
There are rich characters and exciting plot elements here, though the story does meander a bit. Dec 22, Molly rated it liked it.
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Henry Chang is a good writer. He has a gift for drawing you in. Oh and please, Mr. Chang, read some other books in which people deal with another language and how they handle it.
By chapter five I could speak Chinese, almost. Great if I were re Henry Chang is a good writer. Great if I were reading a phrasebook, not so great in a murder mystery. Feb 13, Katie rated it it was ok. It's a thesis on the diversity of Asian culture It's about a pedophile rapist It's about sex slavery This book was so confused, I couldn't finish it. Primarily because I never got a handle on what any of the characters had to do with the plot.
Jan 29, Alisa rated it liked it. More interesting for the well-drawn portraits of Chinatown characters and environs, and for the melancholy viewpoint of the American-born child of immigrants the perfect noir outsider, really , than for the murder and detective work. Still, an enjoyable read. Aug 29, Sonny rated it really liked it Shelves: To solve these crimes, Jack turns to an elderly fortune teller, an old friend of his, in addition to employing modern police methods.
This debut mystery power-fully conveys the sights, sounds, and smells of Chinatown, as well as the attitudes of its inhabitants. He uses both modern police methods and an an ancient fortuneteller to bring a murderer and a serial rapist to justice. To solve these crimes, Jack turns to both modern police methods and an ancient fortuneteller.
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Additional Details Series Volume Number. Reviews Praise for Chinatown Beat "This is a nasty, terse slice of noir, and Yu is a fellow whose adventures should be worth following. Then let Henry Chang show you around. This is tough crime fiction that reaches into the darkest corners of Chinatown and beyond, written with a deep understanding of the world through which Detective Jack Yu moves, and a soulful compassion for those who inhabit it. Every word has the ring of truth about it. Better say antihero, because while the picture is vivid and often compelling, it's anything but pretty. Mysteries, quirks, that might otherwise lie buried, but that subtly define who we are.
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