Friday 28 December 2012

Ross Thomas Chinaman's Chance Review

There's always a welter of newspaper articles about best book of the year around now - for me the best new book I've read is Ami McKay's Virgin Cure but there has been a huge amount of dross. Unless you like heaving bosoms and badly written mild porn (50 Shades Of Cliché), pickings have been poor.

So then, let's return to an old master, Ross Thomas. I've recently reread a few of his, including Chinaman's Chance.

Opening paragraph: "The pretender to the Emperor’s Throne was a fat thirty-seven-year-old Chinaman called Artie Wu who always jogged along Malibu Beach right after dawn even in summer, when dawn came round as early as 4:42. It was while jogging along the beach just east of the Paradise Cove pier that he tripped over a dead pelican, fell, and met the man with six greyhounds. It was the sixteenth of June, a Thursday."

Chinaman's Chance is a tale of political corruption, with criminals and conmen in a crazy dance of smoke and mirrors. It's one of the four Thomas books featuring Artie Wu and Quincy Durant, two of Thomas's most endearing characters. As ever, we get a fast, stylish thriller with more than one twist. There's a missing singing star, a dead Congressman, a city run by crooks, a nympho film star, a billionaire (with six greyhounds), a dapper Mafiosi and a goodly bunch of lowlives. Character, weaknesses and foibles are ably limned by the author in economical fashion and the plot(s) thicken most satisfactorily.

Applying the "would my mother read it?" test, yes she would, and the vicar as well. The violence is understated, the sex (rarish for Thomas) is not graphic and the prose is elegant as we expect. Grab a copy and enjoy.


Ruth Cox aka abitosunshine said...

Thanks for sharing the first paragraph of Chinaman's Chance in your book review, Paul; enticed me into thinking it would be a good book to read.

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