S. J. Rozan

Trail of Blood

"S.J. Rozan offers up a rich tapestry of historical mystery stitched into contemporary suspense."


Estranged for months from fellow P.I. Bill Smith, Chinese-American private investigator Lydia Chin is brought in by her colleague and former mentor, Joel Pilarsky, to help with a case that crosses continents, cultures, and decades.

In Shanghai, excavation has unearthed a cache of European jewellery dating back to World War II, when Shanghai was an open city providing safe haven for thousands of Jewish refugees. The jewellery, identified as having belonged to one such refugee - Rosalie Gilder - was immediately stolen by a Chinese official who fled to New York City. Hired by a lawyer specializing in the recovery of Holocaust assets, Chin and Pilarsky are to find any and all leads to the missing jewels. However, Lydia soon learns that there is much more to the story than they've been told: the Shanghai Moon is one of the worlds most sought after missing jewels and is believed to have been part of the same stash.

Before Lydia can act on this new information, two men are murdered, Lydia is fired from the case, and Bill Smith finally reappears on the scene. Now Lydia and Bill must unravel the truth about the Shanghai Moon and the events that surrounded its disappearance sixty years ago during the chaos of war if they are to stop more killings today.

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Published as The Shanghai Moon in the US, Trail of Blood is one of those books. You know the ones; the kind that demands your attention and refuse to allow you to do anything else – other than drink coffee and visit the bathroom – until it is finished. There is so much to enjoy and admire about this novel; great characters, neat prose and a writer who plots expansively and ambitiously. S.J. Rozan offers up a rich tapestry of historical mystery stitched into contemporary suspense. Using letters and journal entries from the 1930s and 1940s, Rozan illustrates a little known facet of the war - the Jewish ghetto in Shanghai - setting the stage beautifully for a modern quest for missing valuables stolen during the Holocaust. The plot dips, weaves and turns to the very last page offering a tantalising clue here and a fascinating insight there. Another part of the pleasure of the novel was the relationship between the two leads. Even if you haven't read the previous books in the series you pick up quickly that they have issues. You also pick up quickly, given time – but perhaps not yet – they will manage to work it out. Lydia Chin and Bill Smith are my new favourite double act. With this couple the writer gets to spell out the plot with precision, and cleverly her choice of protagonists allow her to offer spells of light and humour in the story to balance the murder and mayhem of the present and the intrigue and horror of the past.

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