Book Reviews: The Night Searchers by Marcia Muller and Death Money by Henry Chang

The Night SearchersThe Night Searchers
A Sharon McCone Mystery
Marcia Muller
Grand Central Publishing, July 2014
ISBN: 978-1-455-52793-9

Sharon McCone undertakes two peculiar cases, sort of interrelated. The first is brought to her by an attorney who introduces Sharon to Jay and Camilla Givens. The other is handed over to her by her husband, who operates a separate security agency, when he is called overseas on a secret mission. This one involves a kidnapping of one of his clients.

It appears that Camilla “sees” devil worshipers performing human sacrifices in an undeveloped area in San Francisco. Meanwhile, Sharon learns that both Jay and the kidnapping victim are involved in a group that partakes in night forays, following clues, hunting treasure and, apparently, performing weird acts. Just how all these factors add up to Sharon solving both cases is the basis for a wide-ranging story.

While the plot is worthy of note, it is complicated and somewhat loosely written and disjointed. The author does keep Sharon and her husband, Hy Ripinski, fresh and up to date, continuing their development as characters in this long-running series, and it is recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, February 2015.


Death MoneyDeath Money
A Detective Jack Yu Investigation
Henry Chang
Soho Crime, March 2015
ISBN: 978-1-6169-5532-8
Trade Paperback

Detective Jack Wu once again is tapped to solve a case because he is of Chinese descent. When the body of an Asian man is seen embedded in the debris and ice of the Harlem River, he is called from his Chinatown precinct to take control of the case, which turns out to be one of murder.

The only problem is that the victim has no identification, and there isn’t a clue to be found. So Wu follows the Chinese community through the city, north to The Bronx and its restaurants, gambling and sex dens, and south to Chinatown and its own fleshpots and gaming spots. And along the way, he learns a variety of secrets attempting to give justice to a man who was all but invisible.

This fourth novel in the series, as were its predecessors, is economically written, with especially short sentences, and a smattering of Chinese words and phrases to provide authenticity.  This police procedural moves in logical progression across New York City, looking deeply at the Chinese culture and environment of New York’s Lower East Side.  Wu is an unusual investigator, applying the usual methodology of police investigation with the occult, an old woman who touches object obtained during the investigation and supplying him with clues.  Maybe other protagonists should consider Ouija boards.

A very enjoyable read, and recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, March 2015.