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In One Red Bastard, Ed Lin's thrilling sequel to the highly acclaimed Snakes Can't Run, "reminiscent of Elmore Leonard... Compulsively readable" (Don Lee), it's the fall of 1976. New York's Chinatown is in turmoil over news that Mao's daughter is seeking asylum in the U.S. The series hero Robert Chow is a neighborhood detective in training, and he is thrilled when his girlfriend Lonnie scores an interview with the Chinese representative of Mao's daughter. But hours after the interview, the man is found dead. Lonnie, the last person to see him alive, is the main suspect.
As Lonnie is subjected to increasing amounts of intimidation from his fellow policemen, who want to close the case, Robert is tempted to reach into his own bag of dirty tricks. Will he stay on the right side of the law, or will his loyalty to Lonnie get the better of him? Find out in this exciting and fast-paced mystery set in one of New York's most fascinating neighborhoods.
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ED LIN is the first author to win three Asian American Literary Awards, one each for his previous books Waylaid, This Is a Bust, and Snakes Can't Run. Lin, a native New Yorker of Taiwanese and Chinese descent, was awarded the Booklist Editor's Choice and Top Ten First Novel for Waylaid.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
October 18, 1976
Of course, the Grand Street subway station was out of commission but luckily the uptown 103 bus on the Bowery was right there. I told Paul to get on it.
“But I don’t have any change,” he said, frowning at me. He’s a bright kid, but he’s book-smart, not street-smart. I worry about him sometimes.
“Will you just get in there? I’ll take care of this,” I said. He should have known by now that his elders would always pay for him.
I pushed Paul ahead of me. I boarded the bus and flashed my shield at the driver.
“That’s for me. I’m going to pay for the boy,” I said.
“Don’t worry about it,” said the driver.
“No, I have it.”
“You’re not taking your whole family out for a day trip in the country. This is a city bus.”
I crossed my arms and studied the driver. He was a white male, probably pushing sixty, possibly five feet eight standing, and weighed about one hundred seventy. His face was as worn out as his uniform and his dead eyes told me he didn’t care about anything or anyone anymore.
I reached into my pocket and pulled only thirty-five cents in change. Dammit, fifteen cents short. If I hadn’t bought these newspapers, I would have had enough.
The pupil fare was eliminated by the Board of Education last month, and Paul would cost the full adult fare. That decision made a lot of sense if we were looking for one more way to encourage our kids to ditch school.
Knowing enough not to bother asking the driver, I turned to the passengers sitting in the front.
“Do any of you have four quarters for a dollar?” I asked.
Two men ignored me completely. One woman shook her head.
“If you’re going to insist on paying, just put in whatever change you have on you,” said the driver. “We have to get moving now.” He slammed shut the door and we swerved away from the curb. I grabbed for the nearest pole and looked back at the corner deli.
I had been ready to step off, get a cup of coffee for the extra change, and wait another year for the next bus.
“You can pay the pupil’s fare for the boy,” said the driver. “They’ll probably change it back, anyway.”
I dropped in the change.
“There’s something wrong with you people,” said the driver.
“Yeah. You cops always want to be the heroes.”
“We aren’t heroes. We play by the book. That’s all.”
“It’s because of Serpico, isn’t it?”
“No, it’s not. He made it seem like everyone with a badge was crooked, but that’s not true at all.”
“Well then, I salute you, sir.” He pulled in at the next bus stop and threw open the door.
“Thank you very much,” I told the driver. He nodded, pulled shut the door, and pulled away from the curb. “Would you happen to be going all the way up to Columbia University?”
He continued looking straight ahead and said, “Naw, you’re going to transfer to the 104 at Forty-second. That’ll take you up there.” He tore off two transfers and handed them to me.
“This country has a lot of heart, doesn’t it, pal?”
I looked over at Paul. He was holding a hand strap halfway down the bus. There weren’t any free seats, so I stumbled through the moving bus and stood by him.
“What’s wrong?” asked Paul.
“Oh, nothing,” I said.
“You have this pissed-off look on your face.”
“Just something the driver said.”
“What did he say?”
“It’s not what he said, exactly. It was what he meant.”
“What are you talking about?”
I didn’t answer Paul and swung through some empty hand straps to get fairly close again to the driver.
“Hey,” I told him. “I was born in this country.”
“So was I. What’s your point?”
“I just wanted to make sure that you knew.”
“Then how come you were speaking a different language with the boy?”
“It’s Chinese. Cantonese, actually.”
“How come he doesn’t speak English like you?”
We pulled up to a red light and the driver turned to me.
“I don’t even know what the hell we’re talking about now,” he said. I turned and saw two seats open up near the rear exit of the bus.
“Well, that figures,” I said, about to walk away. Paul was already heading for the seats. The driver shared a meaningful shake of the head with an old woman up at the front.
Paul and I managed to grab the two seats just before the light changed. We came up to the next stop and the bus driver put on the brakes too hard.
“What are you trying to do, Robert?” asked Paul.
“I don’t know,” I admitted. “I guess I wanted to let him know that people who look like us are Americans, too. Something to that effect.”
“Does it really matter what he thinks?”
“It matters what he thinks because it means he’ll treat the next Asian passengers differently.”
“You mean he won’t try to give them a break on the fare?”
“Agh,” I said, unfolding the pro-Kuomintang Chinese newspaper.
A Taiwanese official had opened up a letter bomb that blew off a hand and an eye. Somehow they caught the guy. He was an anti-Kuomintang activist who wanted to have native Taiwanese rule the island, not families from the mainland who were on the losing side of the Chinese civil war.
The Kuomintang, or KMT, hadn’t lived up to its noble beginnings. They were also known as the Nationalists, the party founded by Sun Yat-sen, the father of the revolution that ended dynastic rule in China. If it hadn’t been for him, we’d still be wearing queues down our backs to show subservience to the Manchus who ran China at the time.
But tragically, Sun died prematurely and the KMT and the Communists stopped working together. After the bloody split, Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Tse-tung rose to power in the KMT and Chinese Communist Party, and there was little for the average Chinese person to do for more than two decades but fight, suffer, and die.
I put away the pro-KMT paper and flipped open the pro-Communist one. The lead story was a feature on Hua Kuo-feng, who was named as Mao’s successor as chairman of the Chinese Communist Party. He had already been premier since Chou En-lai’s death in January. It was a typical snow-job write-up. His latest and greatest act was signing the order to arrest Mao’s widow and the rest of the Gang of Four, who were set on sabotaging the Permanent Revolution.
The Hong Kong–owned newspaper was the editorial lightweight among the three, but it sold the most copies. Some days, half the paper was celebrity news: who was playing patty-cake with whom. But the newspaper was also fanatically pro-business and for free trade, with extensive global-market coverage and analysis of foreign-exchange rates. I guess they expected couples to buy the newspaper and split up the sections between businessman and wife.
I tore through the pages, indifferent to numbers and diet tips. The best section, in my opinion, was the movie listings. The family that owned the paper also owned the film-distribution company that brought in movies from Hong Kong to Chinatown’s four theaters. The theaters weren’t allowed to advertise in the other papers or else they would get cut off.
I folded up the paper and checked my watch.
“Anything good in the papers?” asked Paul.
“No,” I said. I looked out the window. We were only at Houston Street; we had traveled a grand total of six blocks. “I’ve forgotten how slow buses are.”
“We should have just walked up to Prince,” Paul whined.
“What if that station was closed, too?”
“Then we would walk up to the next one until we got to one that was open.”
“Great, so by the time we get there, we’re all sweaty and grimy for your interview. We might as well have gone through the scummy subway. You have to think about presentation, Paul.” I pointed at my face. “I don’t do this for just anybody or anything.”
“Thanks for shaving, Robert.”
“I’d do anything to help you. Hell, I even bled a little for you.”
“It’s all for a worthy cause. If I’m admitted to this precollege project, it could help me get into Columbia as an undergrad.”
I smiled, but inside I was worried. Not about Paul. I was sure he was going to get pretty much anything he ever applied to, no sweat. What bothered me was that I was going to be even more in debt with Barbara. I had grown up with her in Chinatown and we even had a little thing going before I got into a relationship with Lonnie, Paul’s half sister. It was a tiny thing, even microscopic.
Barbara had gotten Lonnie a job at the United Nations office of a newswire service. Now, through another connection of hers, Barbara arranged an “in” for Paul at Columbia.
I guess that when you go to Harvard, as Barbara did, you tend to pick up connections. When you don’t go to college, like me, you end up with a dumb government job that no Chinese kid wants while growing up. I sure didn’t want to be a cop, but not because I was opposed to it. I didn’t know what the hell I was going to be. Then the draft came to Chinatown and it didn’t matter if I had made up my mind or not.
I looked over at Paul. He was reading a paperback book he was holding with one hand. Now, that kid had a mind and a future. I like to think that I set him straight when he was hanging o...
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Book Description Minotaur Books, 2012. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110312660901
Book Description Minotaur Books, 2012. Hardcover. Condition: Brand New. 280 pages. 8.75x5.75x1.00 inches. In Stock. Seller Inventory # __0312660901
Book Description Minotaur Books. Hardcover. Condition: New. 0312660901 New Condition. Seller Inventory # NEW7.1025393