Saturday, November 7, 2009
"I saw gas lamps in the Chinese shops in Shanghai.I saw their elimination by electric lights." Hu Shih
P.I. Lydia Chin is asked by her mentor, Joel Pilarsky, to help locate missing jewelry dating back to WWII. In Shanghai, a cache of jewelry had been found and identified as belonging to European Jews attempting to escape Hitler's influence. Shortly after being found, a Chinese official is suspected of stealing the jewelry.
Not long after being hired to look into the missing jewelry, Joel is murdered. Additionally, one of the pieces of jewelry that Rosalie Gilder brought out of Germany is the Shanghai Moon, a rare, valuable gem.
When Joel is killed, Lydia's former partner, Bill Smith, contacts her and they decide to work the case together. A usual part of the novels with Bill and Lydia contains a bi-play about their personal relationship but there is little of that in this story.
Lydia is told by her friend Mary Kee, a detective in New York's 5th precinct, that a Chinese citizen, who was a policeman, has been killed. He had been looking for Wong Pan, the official accused of taking the jewelry.
Besides the mystery story, S.J. Rozan is providing her readers with a history lesson. Rosalie Gilder's letters to her mother, during the time of turmoil in WWII gets right to the human feel for the trials Jews were subject to at that time. I felt as if I was reading an updated "The Diary of Ann Frank" from the point of view of a young woman exposed to the terrible aspects of War and the manner the persecution of Jews can affect innocent people.
The plot is complex but the story is interesting and enlightening. Worth the effort.