“Chin Yong-Yun Takes a Case” by S. J. Rozan is a light mystery. Yong-Yun’s daughter is a Chinese American private investigator, Lydia Chin, Rozan’s series detective, but in this short story it is Yong-Yun who offers her help. Tan Li-Li plays mahjong with Yong-Yun and her friends, but when she calls for Lydia’s help, Lydia’s not home. Li-Li’s grandson has been kidnapped and Li-Li’s son only has two hours before he needs to turn over the code for software his firm has developed as ransom, effectively destroying his career. Yong-Yun accepts the case, implying that she works closer with Lydia than she does.

I liked how Yong-Yun followed the clues, and dealt with the whole situation wisely. She’s a bright woman. I enjoyed reading her thoughts, not just on the case but on her daughter’s profession, asking the computer about people “as though it were a temple fortuneteller,” marriage which “if handled badly, can be a source of distress,” and her culture.

Apparently Rozan has won several awards for her Lydia Chin series. I had never heard of her before, but that’s one of the good things about short stories- discovering new to me authors without a huge commitment of time. I didn’t feel like I was missing anything by not knowing any of the series character. Rozan did a great job of filling out Yong-Yun’s character, and Lydia’s only appearance in the story is a brief phone call during which her mother brushes her off.

The story is included in The Best American Mystery Stories 2011, and it’s currently free on Smashwords. You can read it here.

Pre-order The Best American Mystery Stories 2011 on Amazon or from an Indie bookstore.

3½ out of 5 stars

Category: Mystery & Detective- Short Story

5,323 words

Short Story Monday is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set.

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