White Ginger by Thatcher Robinson (Seventh Street Books, Oct.8 2013)-Bai Jiang is a souxun, aka a people finder, in the heart of San Francisco’s Chinatown. She has a 12 year old daughter, Dan, with her ex, Jason, who is a triad assassin. Yeah, it’s complicated. Her closest friend, Lee, is both her partner in business but also will protect her at any cost. When she’s confronted with her newest case, a missing girl that might have been sold into human trafficking, she’s going to need all the help she can get, even if it’s from triad enforcers. Soon she finds out that more than just a missing girl is at stake. Someone has made it personal, and is determined to bring down Bai, and all that she holds dear.
I have to say up front, this is one of the best, most fun, crime debuts I’ve read in a long time. I love that Bai is a mom, but she also kicks ass like a pro. She was raised in the world of the triad, and although she enjoys a certain amount of protection, women don’t exactly hold a lot of weight among triad members. She still has chemistry with Jason (yeah, you might be fanning yourself after scenes from these two), and he’ll do anything to protect her, but as I mentioned, it’s frustratingly complicated. Her business partner and friend, Lee, is a delight and his devotion to Bai and Dan is endearing. Bai is just about fearless, especially where kids and their safety are concerned, but she’s forced to do some things in the course of this investigation that challenge her inner peace and make her question herself intensely. It’s an oddly attractive trait in someone so strong and in command of herself, but one of the things that make her so easy to like, and to connect with. This book just begs to be translated onto the big screen and offers some great fight scenes, funny and clever dialog, and a conclusion that will both satisfy and leave readers wanting more of Bai, her family, and her wonderful, and wonderfully odd, friends. If you’re a fan of crime fiction with strong female characters, you’re in for a treat. Prepare yourself to be hooked from page one.