I liked this book a lot. At the end I noticed that it was very unlike most novels I read. It was more a loosely connected set of stories, mostly centered around the criminal element in Chinatown. There is not any overall crime that is investigated throughout the book. This worked for me, but some readers might come away disappointed.
This paragraph from the book jacket flap describes it well:
In this vivid evocation, Chang shows us the people he understands so well: a Chinese yuppie whose loss of face ends in tragedy; an ailing bookie with romance in his soul; a would-be gang leader and the tough new immigrants from Fukien who confront him; and the triad official, Grass Sandal, sent from Hong Kong to liase with local benevolent societies. Year of the Dog shows us what exists beneath the surface of the tourists' Chinatown.
Another favorite character was Police Officer Wong, "a rookie patrolman, a Chinese-American portable who could speak several Chinese dialects." Wong pulls Jack into a missing person case on Christmas Eve.
I will admit to having trouble keeping track of the various criminal characters with similar (to me) Chinese names. There were scenes of graphic violence and sex that could be objectionable to some readers. I did not consider these major flaws, and I will be continuing to read the next two novels in this series. My husband has copies of the whole series, so that will be easy.
I also plan to follow up on reading two novels by Ed Lin set in Chinatown in the 1970's, which I purchased a couple of years ago. Another series I have read set in New York's Chinatown is the Bill Smith/Lydia Chin novels by S. J. Rozan. Those are set in the 1990's to present day. I reviewed the last novel in the series, Ghost Hero, here.
This year, Chinese New Year - The Year of the Monkey - begins on February 8th and lasts until Jan 27th, 2017. I was motivated to read Year of the Dog (at this time) because I saw last year's Chinese New Year Crime Fiction post at Mystery Fanfare. This year's list of crime fiction that takes place during the Chinese New Year is HERE.
Publisher: Soho Press, 2008
Length: 231 pages
Series: Jack Yu #2
Setting: New York, Chinatown
Genre: Police Procedural
Source: Borrowed from my husband.