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Chinaman's Chance (Arthur Case Wu #1)

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  504 ratings  ·  46 reviews
From Edgar Award-winning author Ross Thomas comes an exciting thriller featuring Artie Wu and Quincy Durant--the leading characters in his widely acclaimed novel, Out on the Rim. In this fast-paced story, Wu and Durant investigate a complex web of corruption in Southern California.
Paperback, 334 pages
Published July 1st 1988 by Mysterious Press (first published 1978)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,037)
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"Wu looked past Durant to the ocean, still gray from the overcast, although the horizon, for some reason, was clearly defined - so clearly, in fact, that Catalina was plainly visible, which it seldom was, even on clear days. 'I've had a couple of ideas,' Wu continued, 'which, when you hear them, might help you to understand why they used to call us Oriental folks wily.'

'Shifty, too.'

'Well, this is one of the shiftiest ideas I've ever had, but it might make us a little money.'

'How much is a lit
"It was while jogging along the beach just east of the Paradise Cove pier that Artie Wu tripped over a dead pelican, fell, and met the man with six greyhounds."
- from Chinaman's Chance

The main character (Arthur WU) appears in:

Chinaman's Chance (1978)
Out on the Rim (1987)
Voodoo, Ltd. (1992)

It is defiantly time I re-read this book.
David Wrubel
Ross Thomas was at his best writing comic mysteries with serious undertones, and his best ones featured Artie Wu and Quincy Durant and an unusual cast of characters. I believe they appeared in one or two others in addition to "Chinaman's Chance", which remains my favorite. Thomas died in 1995; the NY Times once called him the greatest storyteller in America, and that is still true 14 years after his death, yet most of his books are out of print. They are well worth finding.

Another Thomas book I
Read this one some time ago, but Ross Thomas is a writer I want to read more of.
Mike Harper
I have a daughter in law who accuses me of reading for self-improvement. Giving this book five stars ought to prove that I read for enjoyment, instead. Because this book has damn little in it to please an intellectual, but plenty of plot, character, action and just plain good writing. You don't have to Google this one to figure out why it's considered "great literature," because it isn't. Just great fun.
Best of the genre, and the best of Ross Thomas' many good novels.
Lace Armitage is an Ozark folk singer turned actress. Her sister and fellow former group member Silk is an activist who was carrying on a not so secret affair with a local Congressman. That ended abruptly when the Congressman's wife shot him, then herself in an apparent murder-suicide - but there are those who feel the case is less "open and shut" than it would appear. Since then, Silk has been in hiding. One day, Lace's billionaire husband makes a (seemingly) chance encounter with Artie Wu and ...more
David Schlosser
Ross Thomas is being unjustifiably forgotten in the annals of crime fiction. He has a particular bent on looking at crime -- in most books, from the perspective of using public office to commit moral and ethical crimes that insulate the perpetrator from criminal prosecution and spread the impact of those crimes across such a wide range of victims that it becomes very difficult for any one person to justify spending the time and energy to stop it. His good guys are barely good and often bad, and ...more
David Corbett
I feel like an idiot for not picking up Ross Thomas sooner, but this (and two other of his novels I've read in the past year, Briarpatch and The Fools in Town Are On Our Side) have solidified my opinion that no one wrote a better, more satisfying crime novel. I once asked Otto Penzler why RT wasn't more widely revered, and he said, "He never wrote the same book twice," meaning readers didn't know what to expect of him, and thus he never gained the kind of fame awarded to Leonard and MacDonald an ...more
Not the first Artie Wu/Quincy Durant book, but it's the one that gives their life story--how they grew up and got to be the way they are--so it's very enlightening for those who are interested in these things. Also, at least for my money, it's the best of the Wu/Durant books if only because its plot is a little more straightforward than the others. Remember, though, straightforward doesn't necessarily mean credible. If it's credibility you're looking for, go read something else. But if you want ...more
Evan Thomas
This is just a fun read and perfect for the beach or a long domestic flight. The plot is convoluted and completely incidental. The characters are the heart of every Ross Thomas book. It is very hard not imagine this as a great movie along the lines of "Get Shorty." I am surprised more of Thomas' books have not been made into films.
There's a lot going on here, and a lot to keep track of as things slowly come together, lots of characters, each with a lot of backstory. I'm still not sure it all got explained, and it got a little cute at the end with unveiling who may be related to whom, but ultimately the characters didn't seem to care about that, so I won't care if I still have some questions about how it all came together. And out of nowhere I find a new author to get into.
c1978: The original phrase was that 'one had only a Chinaman's Chance in Hell' but it gradually changed through usage into the shortened version that is used for the title of this book. It seems to have come out of the recognition of the dangerous work undertaken on the railroads in the USA. I wouldn't imagine it is very PC now. The book is a great read but it is the characters that make this book stand out. Loved it and definitely recommend this to the normal crew.""Oh why oh why can't I get it ...more
Jul 13, 2007 Chris rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone with a head and a dick
Ross Thomas rewrites all the rules in this pulse-pounding, heart-thumping, brain-patting, stomach-rubbing ballbuster of a novel. You won't breathe for pages. You won't blink for chapters. And then: TWO WHOLE MINUTES UNDERWATER. This book takes you to hell and back, and if your balls get singed don't get angry, that's just Ross Thomas's way of saying "GOTCHYA!"

This website needs to be reformatted so I can give this book eighteen stars, seven sticks of dynamite, and one fat-ass nuclear warhead fil
It took me about 10 pages to realize that I have read this book before. I guess that's what Goodreads is supposed to protect me from! But it was a perfect book for a vacation - fast paced, full of charismatic con men, underworld bosses, complicated cops, and smooth operators. It's hard to know who's playing whom, and there are enough twists to make sure you guess wrong at least once or twice. If you can tolerate the eye-rolling misogyny that so often is part of this macho genre, you'll be in for ...more
I really enjoyed this; I liked the way the 70s setting felt both familiar and strange, I liked the way the characters were multi-sided and allies were found in unexpected places, and I very much liked the way the mystery (well, not exactly a mystery) unfolded. I would be very curious to hear what people of colour think of this; it seems somewhat progressive to me in having a Chinese main character who uses racial stereotypes to his advantage, but I am sure there's tons of angles I'm missing.
A pretty solid 70s caper novel from the "men's fiction" shelf of that era. Not exactly a mystery but with more turns and twists, and lots of politics and crime and sexy ladies. If you've read a lot of 70s novels of this style and enjoyed them, you'll probably like this one a lot, but I can't recommend it for someone who isn't already into that sort of book precisely because of the 70s vibe ("Chinaman", for crying out loud).
Sam Reaves
When I need to be reminded what good, tight, laconic crime writing is, I pull a Ross Thomas off the shelf for study and enjoyment. This one features knights-errant Artie Wu and Quincy Durant, hired to find out who's pulling the strings in a corrupt Southern California town. Nobody did corruption better than Thomas, or for that matter a certain type of old-school ironic cool.
Heather Anderson
can't find it in Library
I'm a big Ross Thomas fan. Though his Wu/Durant stories (this one and Out on the Rim) are favorites of many, I find them a wee bit cutesy and ostentatiously clever, and would reach elsewhere first. YMMV. There's lots of humor, and the plots are really complex. If you like Donald Westlake, for instance, YM probably WV.
(3.75) Good read that reminds me of a Pelecanos novel with more interesting characters. In other words, it has a compelling plot that never really leaves second gear. It made me interested to try more Ross Thomas books but not anytime soon. This book really felt like getting a meal at McDonalds that meets your expectations.
Toby McMillen
Boy, I am sure enjoying this story. I am going to have to request some more stuff by this guy from the library!

Now I'm done, excellent, excellent read! If you liked Ocean's 10-12, you'll love this one. I blew off a bunch of sleep to get through the last 100 pages; this story started coming at me from 4 or 5 directions.
Chris Peters
Clever, well-paced crime novel with an excellent 1970's vibe. Several cornerstone events and trends of the 60's (e.g. Vietnam War, CIA abuse of power, organized crime, folk music)feature prominently. The heros are clever and likable, while the villains are plausible and a good challenge for the protagonists.
Well, I've finally hit a Ross Thomas that I'm NOT wild about. It's good but not great. Artie Wu and Quincy Durant are con men who carry this story. It's a little bit spy novel and a little bit mystery and sometimes kind of hard to follow but it won't stop me from picking up my next Ross Thomas.
This novel skirts along the edge of "guilty pleasure". The author skillfully enlists the reader on the side of a pair of characters who are rather dubious exemplars. The plot doesn't have bizarre twists but does keep the reader off balance and turning pages quickly to find the resolution.
I wanted to like this book and continue to read the series, but there simply wasn't enough there for me. The plot, really quite boring and not much to it, plodded along and dragged me with it. Cross this one off my list. I have too many to keep up with anyway.
Xenophon Hendrix
Sep 17, 2011 Xenophon Hendrix rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Philip Marlowe, Travis McGee, or <i>The Sting</i>
The two lead characters are half-honest confidence men. The writing is clean and has some humor. The characterization is good. The plot is complex, and the tension ratchets upward. Crime novel readers shouldn't miss this one.
Artie Wu and Quincy Durant get mixed up in the search for a missing singer, missing money supposedly buried in Vietnam, and deadly gangsters. I'll read the other two or three Ross Thomas wrote that feature Wu and Durant.
Period 70's mystery. A little dated, but very suspenseful. Twists, double twists and triple twists abound. As the story unfolded, nothing was as random as it originally seemed. A good book by a good author.
Diana Duncan
This was a great introduction to Ross Thomas. I loved the oddball characters and the plot, with all of its twists, made the book hard to put down. I'm looking forward to reading more of his works.
Nicole Marble
Wow! An Elmore Leonard-like ride through Southern California with an ex-Marine, millions hidden in Saigon, loan sharks, millionaires, actresses and Malibu. A complex plot and a wonderful mystery. A+
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Ross Thomas was an American writer of crime fiction. He is best known for his witty thrillers that expose the mechanisms of professional politics. He also wrote several novels under the pseudonym Oliver Bleeck about professional go-between Philip St. Ives.

Thomas served in the Philippines during World War II. He worked as a public relations specialist, reporter, union spokesman, and political strat
More about Ross Thomas...

Other Books in the Series

Arthur Case Wu (3 books)
  • Out on the Rim
  • Voodoo, Ltd.
Briarpatch The Cold War Swap Out on the Rim The Fools in Town Are on Our Side Twilight at Mac's Place

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