“Mississippi? . . . I didn’t know which part was craziest: that my mother wanted me to go to Mississippi on a case; that my mother wanted me to go to Mississippi on a case; or that my mother wanted me to go to Mississippi on a case.” It’s a good question, rife with possibilities for New York City PI Lydia Chin, narrator of S.J. Rozan’s Paper Son. The case in question revolves around a distant cousin accused of murdering his father. But before Lydia and her partner, Bill Smith, can talk to said cousin, he escapes from custody, thus accomplishing the one feat that could make him look even guiltier, especially when added to the already damning evidence of his proximity to the body when found and his fingerprints on the murder weapon. The term paper son refers to Chinese immigrants who came to the U.S. after the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. They were able to do this by purchasing fraudulent papers documenting them as blood relatives, typically sons or daughters, of legal Chinese immigrants. Many of those paper sons came to the Mississippi Delta, and one of them was the brother of Lydia Chin’s great-grandfather, hence the family connection. Rozan skillfully weaves this history into her narrative, adding texture and nuance to what is already a cracking good mystery.
Amy Brady uses commentary from food writers, scientists and physicians to illuminate how something as commonplace as ice came to shape America’s history and culture.