Black Jade – A Daiyu Wu Mystery by Gloria Oliver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The blurb: Could an old-fashioned ballgown be used to commit murder?
Daiyu Wu is aware that fear of the Yellow Terror has made her nationality a rare breed in the Lone Star State. Being Chinese and blind makes her doubly unique in 1930 Dallas. Despite these impediments, anyone who dismisses her for either fact does so at their peril.
One day, at her family-owned laundry business, Dai detects the scent of burned garlic. With the help of her companion, Jacques, the source is soon discovered. It is a green ballgown. The gown has money pinned inside it to pay for the cleaning, but oddly, it came with no address label to identify its owner. Her extensive knowledge leads Dai to believe someone has committed murder using arsenic. The perpetrator is trying to use White Laundry to hide the evidence. But no mention of foul play turns up in the newspapers, and there’s not enough proof to convince the police there’s been a crime.
Her curiosity and intellect stimulated like never before; Dai ignores the possible consequences and sets out to solve the mystery with the help of her canine companion, Prince Razor, and her confidant, Jacques Haskins. It’s either that or let the killer get away with it — assuming a spoiled popinjay, his jealous self-appointed girlfriend, and Dai’s overprotective parents don’t get in her way.
My review: I’ve read a few cozy mysteries this year. I find them easier on my scrambled mind, and easier to digest when I’m feeling unwell. But I also find them to be extremely focusing and entertaining.
Black Jade is the first book in a mystery series. The lovely things about the book are the era it’s set in and the fact that the main character is a blind Chinese woman. The author weaves in the details of the mystery itself, the racial issues of the time, and society life in the 1930s quite well.
Daiyu and her companion, Jacques, join forces with two unlikely (and totally different) side kicks to find a killer. The setting and characters worked well together. There were little smile moments, strong “that’s racist” moments and a hint of embarrassing romantic moments. All intended. All written well. I liked the storyline and didn’t find anything annoying about any of it.
Daiyu’s companion threw me a bit, at the beginning, but I liked the character and accepted him (once my brain accepted it was a man I was reading about, not a woman as I had first thought).
The mystery was well thought out and the hints subtle. I enjoyed the interaction between Jacques and “the cad”. There was a lot of light hearted humour in there too.
I can’t think of anything bad about the book. The pages turned quickly, the history was equal to the mystery. I learned a lot about life in the ’30s, yet the details were weaved into the storyline, not dumped on the pages. Impressively done, I must say.
I will read more books in the series as I enjoyed my time in their world. Recommended.
I received a review copy of this book, and this is an honest review.