Lucky (A Detective Jack Yu Investigation)

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9781616957841: Lucky (A Detective Jack Yu Investigation)

Detective Jack Yu returns in a pulse-pounding fifth investigation in New York's Chinatown

Chinatown gang leader “Lucky” Louie was shot outside of a Chinatown off-track betting establishment on the thirteenth of January, and lay in a coma for 88 days, waking on Easter Sunday. The number 88 is a double-helix, double-lucky Chinese number; religion and superstition all lean Lucky’s way.

But Detective Jack Yu, Lucky’s boyhood blood brother, fears his friend’s luck is about to run out. When Lucky embarks on a complex and daring series of crimes against the Chinatown criminal underground, Jack races to stop him before his enemies do so—permanently.

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About the Author:

Henry Chang was born and raised in New York’s Chinatown, where he still lives. He is a graduate of Pratt Institute and CCNY. He is the author of Chinatown Beat, Year of the Dog, Red Jade, and Death Money, also in the Detective Jack Yu series.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

It was a sunny morning, the second Monday in April, and NYPD detective Jack Yu quickened his pace, stepping briskly toward Confucius Towers with a takeout bag of sooksik food tins, a pack of illegal RedRockit firecrackers from Lee Bao’s grocery, and a flask of whiskey.
     He also had a Colt revolver on his hip.
     From late March through early April, with winter still hanging on, Chinatown barbecue shops were swamped from hoy dong opening until midafternoon, lines of the dutiful trailing out the door down along the sidewalk, folks pressing impatiently for the char siew and for yook and see yow gai. The triumvirate of Cantonese sooksik for Ch’ing Ming observances—roast pork, soy sauce chicken, barbecued spareribs leung tew gwut were the essential fast-food elements for a visit to the Chinese boneyard.
     Ch’ing Ming was the Chinese memorial period when friends and relatives grave-sweep around headstones and burn death money, cash for expenses in the beyond. People were now said to be burning bigger denominations of death money since inflation hit the afterlife. What, Jack mused, the paper Louis Vuitton handbags and the cardboard Mercedes cars weren’t enough?
     Because they believe that underworld windows are temporarily open on the other side, families celebrate the spiritual connection and share the sooksik snacks like a communal picnic, spread out around the grave area. In rainy weather they eat standing under umbrellas, drinking from vacuum cartons of soy milk or chrysanthemum tea, sharing desserts like bok tong go, wong tong go, dao foo fa.
     They pour bok jo wine into the earth, light candles and incense, and plant bouquets of flowers. Flower shops and Buddhist stores thrive during the Ch’ing Ming period.
     Easter around the corner, Jack thought, and meanwhile a lot of real money being spent on death money and condos for the dead.
     The two main cemeteries for the New York City Chinese were in Brooklyn: Evergreen Hills and Cypress Valley. Many of the old-timers bought plots there when they realized they were never going back to China, but there were lots of Chinese in Queens now, farther from Chinatown, where they’d bought up large sections of the Maple Grove and Flushing cemeteries.
     Pa was buried at Evergreen and it’d been almost three months since Jack had last visited, in the dead of winter on Pa’s birthday in January. That was the second time he’d gone alone, without Alexandra, whose grandfather was also buried at Evergreen.
     Alex had big problems of her own, a messy yuppie divorce that threatened to involve him. He remembered how it felt with her naked next to him. For a moment, he lost himself in the thought of it.
 
 
He’d meant to visit the cemetery earlier, but a complicated Chinatown case had swallowed a couple of weekends, and the mental health day he’d earned now came in handy. On the second Monday in April, he was already very late, toward the end of Ch’ing Ming.
     Billy Bow’s Mustang made the going easier, and this late in the season on a weekday, he hadn’t had to wait for the takeout.
     His Chinatown friend Billy Bow had embarked on a one-month sex tour of Thailand, to all the usual places—Bangkok, Patpong, Chiang Mai—and had generously loaned Jack his black 1986 Mustang GT, a nine-year-old souped-up and chromed gangsta ride with tinted windows.
     The Mustang had been Billy’s main ride before he got married, cruisin’ his pimp an’ pussy mobile he’d called it, and after the ugly divorce, it reminded him how it felt to be free. He’d loaned it to Jack under the condition that Jack left a full tank and returned it to its monthly parking spot at Confucius Towers.
     Billy didn’t want the car left on the streets overnight.
     The Mustang was an automatic. It had a moonroof, power windows and locks, and a bumped-up stereo he’d gotten from Canal Street. It was powered by a five-liter V-8 engine, and Billy had bartered for the mag wheels and chrome hubs, tinting the windows himself at Charlie Chang’s chop shop on Pike and South. Charlie took cash only, no receipt.
     The car looked prime for a gangsta drive-by. The NYPD and DOT had outlawed the blacked-out windows, and cops harassed boom-box cars for noise violations, hoping for a bigger bust for weed or alcohol. It wasn't the kind of car you'd expect an Asian NYPD detective to step out of, unless he was undercover.
     The incense and death money Jack needed were already in the black car’s trunk, along with an empty five-gallon soya-oil tin can from the Tofu King. Billy had cut the metal top off to allow for the burning of the death money and to contain the exploding firecrackers. He’d also included a plastic container of bok tong go, gelatinous sweets from the Tofu King. For that lawyer chick of yours, he’d teased.
     Jack crossed the Bowery to the high-rise building and took the stairs down to the garage.
     The Paki attendant brought the Mustang up from the bowels of Confucius Towers Parking and got tipped a dollar. There were several attendants and Billy had explained to them about lending his car to his friend.
     Billy had told them that Jack was a badass cop, and they always brought him the Mustang quickly and deferentially.
     The car growled like it needed to swallow some asphalt, and before Jack knew it, he was roaring down the expressway.
     Driving the Mustang, Jack could get to Evergreen Hills in just twenty minutes. Traffic was light—it was mostly heading in the opposite direction, into Manhattan—and he switched up the radio from a rock station to some easy listening. He rolled his shoulders as the Mustang practically drove itself.
     The appointment with the NYPD therapist wasn’t for another two hours, plenty of time to get to her office in lower Manhattan.
     The mellow music shifted his thoughts to Alex, Alexandra Lee-Chow, a passionate Chinatown lawyer with whom he’d become intimately involved. Fleeting images of their nights together were crowded out by subsequent legal complications.
     Trouble was, her scummy soon-to-be-ex-husband had gotten his hands on a security videotape from Confucius Towers, a tape that captured him and Alex in the elevator going to and from her apartment in the Chinatown high-rise. Proof of their movements in the wee hours.
     The tape would position Alex as an unfaithful wife, and because Jack was a tainted cop, would also show her as an unfit mother. Attendant lawsuits perforated the already acrimonious divorce proceedings, and Alex had broken off contact with Jack to protect her seven-year-old daughter. They’d last met at a Lower East Side sushi bar. Temporarily, she’d promised him, changing her cell-phone number, declaring that they couldn’t be seen in public afterward.
     He understood, knew she was protecting the custody case. But that was three weeks ago. And he missed her.
     He turned off the radio as he arrived at the cemetery. It was peaceful. There weren’t many visitors this late into the Ch’ing Ming cycle.
     He followed a serpentine road until he came to a knoll at the Chinese section along the edges of the cemetery. There was sparse green in the stands of trees and the earth was brown-gray and barren. He’d planted a pair of Dusty Millers, bookending Pa’s headstone. He wondered how they’d survived the winter.
     He parked the car, got his supplies, and headed toward the deserted knoll with its crooked lines of headstone tablets.
     He could almost hear Pa’s complaint.
     Come so late. Why come at all?
     He put down the bucket and bag. The branches of the Dusty Millers had withered somewhat but showed tiny buds of new life. He plucked away a few dead leaves. There would be yellow flowers in the coming weeks.
     He ran his hand briefly over the headstone, over Pa’s Chinese name carved into the rock, before gathering up branches that had fallen near the grave.
     He kicked away twigs and pebbles and other winter debris, and when the site was clean he took the sooksik tins out and placed them on top of the plastic takeout bag.
     He took out his metal flask and poured a circle of XO into the earth at the base of the headstone.
      “Chaai lo ah?” he heard Pa’s derisive words. “Too busy arresting your own people?” That conversation wasn’t what he’d come for, and he took a swig himself before pocketing the flask. Three months hadn’t erased much of the guilt he still felt.
     If anything needed to be swept clean, it wasn’t the grave site. It was the grief in his heart from not having had the chance to say goodbye, make amends son to father.
     The son, the cop. Always after the fact.
     He fired up the incense. Now wasn’t the time for apologies. He’d offered plenty at the funeral, the Thirty Days After visit, Pa’s birthday in January.
     But when he presented the incense, he thought, Yeah, Pa, sorry I’m late. Yes, they’ve got me arresting my own people, but only the bad ones.
     He took a breath. And I never take money.
     He took the first bow imagining his father’s eyes on him.
     Today I remember and honor you.
     He bowed again.
     Today I sweep away all the dead things.
     He bowed lower for the third time and held it longer.
     Today I burn death money to ease your way.
     He planted the three sticks of incense at the head of the plot and readied the tin bucket at the foot of the grave. He flamed his lighter to the packs of death money and dropped some into the bucket. He fanned out the bigger denominations and fed the flames until the billions in death money was consumed.
     After the fire died out, he placed the sooksik on top of the headstone, the way Pa had taught him. The dead are in the ground. Do you feed their heads or their feet?
     Feed your head, Pa, he heard himself thinking.
     He uncovered the tins and nibbled at the cha siew and the soy sauce chicken, imagining Pa having his fill of everything. Later, he’d pack the leftovers and take them home.
     The grounds were barren, but the way the sun washed across the soft hills felt nurturing, ready for rebirth. He took another hard swig from the flask and lit up a cigarette. Poured the last of the whiskey into the ground.
     Almost an hour had gone by and he took a final look at the skeletal branches of the Dusty Millers. Imagining them in full yellow bloom, he wondered if Pa would have approved. He packed up the leftover sooksik and stepped back to the foot of the grave.
     He took the pack of firecrackers from his pocket and put the tip of his cigarette to the fuse. Dropping it into the bucket, he offered a last bow.
     Today I chase away the evil.
The explosions thundered inside the tin bucket and his ears pinged the same way they did on Chinese New Year, always a time of new beginnings.
     He deposited the blackened bucket, with all the burned remains, into the cemetery’s refuse bin.

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Book Description Soho Press Inc, United States, 2017. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Detective Jack Yu returns in a pulse-pounding fifth investigation in New York s Chinatown Chinatown gang leader Lucky Louie was shot outside of a Chinatown off-track betting establishment on the thirteenth of January, and lay in a coma for 88 days, waking on Easter Sunday. The number 88 is a double-helix, double-lucky Chinese number; religion and superstition all lean Lucky s way. But Detective Jack Yu, Lucky s boyhood blood brother, fears his friend s luck is about to run out. When Lucky embarks on a complex and daring series of crimes against the Chinatown criminal underground, Jack races to stop him before his enemies do so--permanently. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9781616957841

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Book Description Soho Press Inc, United States, 2017. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Detective Jack Yu returns in a pulse-pounding fifth investigation in New York s Chinatown Chinatown gang leader Lucky Louie was shot outside of a Chinatown off-track betting establishment on the thirteenth of January, and lay in a coma for 88 days, waking on Easter Sunday. The number 88 is a double-helix, double-lucky Chinese number; religion and superstition all lean Lucky s way. But Detective Jack Yu, Lucky s boyhood blood brother, fears his friend s luck is about to run out. When Lucky embarks on a complex and daring series of crimes against the Chinatown criminal underground, Jack races to stop him before his enemies do so--permanently. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9781616957841

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