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 takes 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 technocrat, 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.