Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “On the Line (Lydia Chin & Bill Smith, #10)” as Want to Read:
On the Line (Lydia Chin & Bill Smith, #10)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

On the Line (Lydia Chin & Bill Smith #10)

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  475 Ratings  ·  89 Reviews
P.I. Bill Smith is sent on a high stakes chase when an electronically modified voice on his cell phone informs him that Lydia Chin, his occasional partner, has been kidnapped. Now if Bill wants to keep Lydia alive, he’ll have to play an elaborate game of the kidnapper’s devising. The first move sends him to an abandoned building where Bill finds the corpse of a small Chine ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published September 28th 2010 by Minotaur Books (first published September 15th 2010)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about On the Line, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about On the Line

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 749)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
First Sentence: Crashing dark cords smothered the cell phone’s impertinent chirp, but the ringtone was “Ride of the Valkyries,” so it penetrated, and I stopped.

PI Lydia Chin has been kidnapped. Her sometimes partner and friend who wishes he were more, has 12 hours before the kidnapper will kill Lydia. Bill is lead on a desperate chase through New York City following obscure clues and being chased by the police who set it up to appear Bill murdered a Chinese prostitute. He is also slowed down by
Robert J.
Apr 05, 2014 Robert J. rated it liked it
Not really one of the best of this series. This is a Bill Smith book and shows him at his worst, and his worst goes on for way too long. Refreshingly for the mystery genre lately, she does get a lot of the social network and computer stuff right, but that's a small island in a sea of troubles for the plot, and even the scene setting is nowhere near as good as previous books. The plot is more of a comic-book plot, maybe Batman and Robin fighting the Joker, with similar events and denouements.
Quite a letdown after the previous book in the series,The Shanghai Moon, which was so good. Too much action (much of which seemed strained to me), repetitive dialogue that did not seem to really add much except to the word count (I hope to never come across the words Dude or lunatic again anytime soon), and an entirely over the top bad guy made this a bit of a slog for me.
Kathryn McCary
Oct 26, 2010 Kathryn McCary rated it really liked it
Shelves: genre-fiction
The Lydia Chin/Bill Smith mysteries have always been a joy. First person narratives from, in alternate books, young hip American Born Chinese Lydia and middle-aged battered Southern-roots White Guy Bill, unlikely sometime partners as licensed detectives, the books have always been engaging and engrossing. Very different points of view and voices, but always strong plots, three-dimensional characters, and excellent writing. Bill is an intellectual redneck (I always think of Harry Kemelman's phras ...more
Rachel Groves
Oh. A bit disappointing after I enjoyed a previous book in the series.

Whilst I like the characters and enjoy the easy to read style what I found lacking was the plot/story and thus no suspense was built and thrills were lacking. Bill's partner is kidnapped by a lunatic who makes him play a game to get her back safely. The lunatic has to figure out clues the lunatic sends in order to find the next location and get his partner back safely. Except the clues are clumsy and well, dreadful in places.
I'd read all of the previous ones in the series, but it'd been such a long time that I barely recalled anything about them except: Bill plays the piano, and he's in love with Lydia, but she puts him off on the romantic front, because of her (racist) mother. So, this one was sort of a "clean slate" for me.

First of all, I'm glad I listened to it, both because I'm a fan of the narrator, as well as that there's a lot of yelling so ALL CAPS LIKE THIS! would've gotten old very fast. Linus's constant u
Katherine Clark
Mar 11, 2016 Katherine Clark rated it it was ok
This did not come off as the other books in the series. It read as a thriller, with poorly developed characters (for the most part) especially in terms of the key villain of the piece. It felt cartoonish to me and disappointing. I did like Linus (Lydia's nephew) and his girlfriend Trella--their exploits were interesting, and I admired Bill and how hard he worked at the solution, but otherwise. sigh.
Kaje Harper
May 02, 2011 Kaje Harper rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
This book just doesn't quite measure up to the rest of the series. The interactions of the two main characters create a lot of the best moments of the series, and in this book Lydia is kidnapped and Bill must find her. It gives them little chance to communicate and adds a crunchy edge of grim to Bill Smith's tone. It's a pity because his irreverent humor is one of his best features and it's not much in evidence here. A couple of secondary characters with promise do appear, and hopefully the next ...more
Apr 17, 2015 Peggy rated it it was ok
I am a big fan of S. J. Rozan but this book misses the mark. Lydia Chin and Bill Smith are private detectives with a loose partnership. In this installment Lydia has been kidnapped by a crazy man who has a major beef with Bill. The crazy guy has constructed complicated clues for a deadly scavenger hunt and taunts Bill to find Lydia before time runs out. I did not enjoy the implausible situations or the horrible language (I understand that this is how lowlifes talk, but Bill sinks to the bait). A ...more
Brenda Clough
Jan 15, 2012 Brenda Clough rated it liked it
Thrilling! Do not pick this up before bedtime, unless you can sleep late the next morning.
But not quite as enjoyable as the other books in the series. I find it difficult to believe that any villain would set up such an elaborate series of clues and contests -- the same problem I have with the Batman movie, in which we are expected to believe that the Joker, avowed anarchist and loner, somehow has the funds and skills to set up elaborate bomb traps all over town. You have to allow the conceit ot
Dec 05, 2010 Ruth rated it liked it
I haven't read anything by S.J. Rozan in a while -- and this was one of these books that felt like an extended chase scene with a deadline. Enjoyable, but I did really miss the witty repartee that's a hallmark of having both Bill and Lydia (the two PIs interact) because Lydia was kidnapped in this story, and Bill had to save her. It's still decent but not the strongest of Rozan's novels. Also, I was annoyed at how the young Chinese cousin who's a hacker kept using the phrase "dig" (as in you dig ...more
Jane (yesmissjane)
Someone from Bill Smith's past is back ... for revenge. He's snatched Lydia, and phone's Bill to tell him he has 12 hours to track her down, or he's going to kill her.

While this is pretty solidly plotted, with lots of well done traditional puzzle/clue solving elements, I wasn't as emotionally invested in the story as I feel like I needed to be to really get the most out of it. But then, this is only my second Smith/Chin book.

Oh, and I never want to hear Lydia's cousin say 'Dude' again. Seriousl
Oct 11, 2010 Kaye rated it it was amazing
The best of the series, in my opinion.
This is one wild ride from beginning to end, and you'll feel as though you're sitting on the edge of your seat the entire time.
Snappy, quick, sharp dialogue (and funny!).
A couple of kids and a dog that are spot on and a great addition to the story.
You'll even fall in love with the bad guys, who aren't as bad as the real bad guy, but even he has some great (and funny!) lines.
I loved this book.
Even if you haven't read any of the other books in the ser
Feb 13, 2014 Laura rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery, 2013
The "maniac with a game" subplot is one of my least favorites ever -- so impractical! Really! -- and this book had another problem on top of that: Not Enough Lydia (NEL). NEL made Bill's hysteria even harder to bear, and all the male swaggering and posturing became pretty repetitive after awhile as there was NEL to balance it out. The book was saved by a) the minor characters being completely awesome; and b) that I listened to it as an audiobook and the man reading it did an amazing job. Otherwi ...more
Oct 24, 2010 Kendra rated it liked it
I have to say, I was disappointed with the latest Bill Smith/Lydia Chin book. The first chapter, in particular, seemed like something a frantic teenager would write. This installment finds Bill unwillingly caught up in a game -- complete with farfetched, loosely connected clues that I didn't buy at all -- with a revenge-seeking psychopath who is holding Lydia hostage. Despite wishing that Rozan had done a better job with this one, I still found myself enjoying it. I rolled my eyes a lot, but I s ...more
Sep 15, 2014 Natlyn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
On the Line is the best entry in the Bill Smith/Lydia Chin series since 2001's Reflecting the Sky. It jumpstarts on the first page with the notification of a kidnapping and doesn't let up. The pacing is excellent, and the clues the kidnapper sends are satisfyingly opaque--so much so that I think they are solved a little too easily--but it's still a satisfying read.

That said I think Rozan may be bored with her characters because in this and the previous book, Bill and Lydia frequently take backse
Nov 21, 2013 Barbara rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
I really didn't like this but for reasons that were personal rather than anything to do with the book itself. My father was a heavy smoker and he died of a smoking-related disease. It took him 8 slow, painful, gruesome years to do it. Whenever I read of someone smoking it bothers me and Bill Smith chain smokes through this entire story. I finished it because I wanted to know how things turned out, but in hindsight I would have been better off just googling for a plot summary.

Tara Russell
Nov 30, 2011 Tara Russell rated it liked it
Fast paced but not the best of this series. As Lydia Chin has been kidnapped by nature of the plot her character is in the background for most of the narrative. This was ameliorated by the character of Trella and the return of Linus from previous novels. The problem with this book, I think, is that it read a bit like the novel equivalent of Die Hard. It lacked a certain depth and favoured action over plot development.
Oct 19, 2011 Lynn rated it it was ok
This book was the single disappointment in a thrilling series. The wonderful balance between Bill and Lydia is gone until the last ten pages. The frenzy of Bill's anger at Lydia's kidnapping was draining. Lydia narrates the next book...I'm looking forward to Ghost Hero.
Oct 27, 2010 Frederic rated it it was ok
I've enjoyed all of the previous Bill Smith/Lydia Chin novels but this one is so ridiculously implausible,with a villain straight out of mediocre TV crime shows,that I couldn't suspend disbelief for even a page...and the new(Young and "Hip") supporting characters don't add anything to the series...I certainly won't give up on Rozan but I hope that the next(Lydia-centric?) installment is a return to form...
Sep 02, 2015 Karen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
I gave this one my best shot but I didn't enjoy it and gave up halfway through. A good idea for a plot but poorly executed and lacking suspense with some really irritating characters and speech mannerisms - "dude" and far too much unnecessary swearing. I won't be seeking the others in the series!
Nov 09, 2011 Homerun2 rated it it was ok
Although I quite like Bill and Lydia, I just didn't like this one. Bill's normally pleasing character was half hysterical from page one. I ended up not finishing and just skipped through to the end. I thought the next book in the series after this one was great.
Una Tiers
Feb 17, 2015 Una Tiers rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 02, 2010 Joanne rated it did not like it
Shelves: mystery
I usually love this series, but I don't love the premise here that Lydia's been kidnapped - makes her too helpless -- and the profanity is too much for me.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lynn Kearney
Mar 20, 2011 Lynn Kearney rated it liked it
3.5 An awful lot of ground got covered in a day, but it's quite a riveting race against time thriller and I enjoyed it.
Jan 25, 2016 Michael rated it did not like it
Eesh, this one really went off the rails.

This reads as if it were an adaptation of a screenplay wholly unrelated to the Chin/Smith series. What character development there is happens only as the result of the cathartic climax, which makes it feel inauthentic an unsatisfying.

The worst aspect for me was the "happy hooker" aspect, which was gratuitous and wholly unbelievable.

I'm still in for the series, and still like Rozan overall, but if you're starting from the beginning please feel free to s
Mark Stevens
Sep 07, 2011 Mark Stevens rated it really liked it
The somewhat blah, hard-to-remember title is about the only blah element in this rip-roaring plot. “On The Line” is up and sprinting from the get-go and never lets up. The plot is an old-school cat and mouse game between a nasty killer and private investigator Bill Smith. There’s teasing, taunting and lots of de-coding clues. The clues are clever, Smith is up to it. Original? Not very. You’ve seen this before in many forms but Rozan toys and teases the plot for her own brands of whimsy and tensi ...more
Kathleen Hagen
On the Line, by S. J. Rozan, A-minus, Narrated by William Dufris, produced by BBC America Audio Books, downloaded from

This is the latest Bill smith and Lydia Chin mystery from New York City’s Chinatown. Bill gets a call on his cell phone informing him, in an electronically altered voice, that his partner, Lydia Chin, has been kidnapped. The man doesn’t want money for her return. Instead, this seems to be a game of revenge specifically with Bill Smith as the other player, and the man
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 24 25 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Soul Patch (Moe Prager, #4)
  • Drive Time (Charlotte McNally, #4)
  • Death Without Tenure (A Karen Pelletier Mystery #6)
  • Christmas Mourning (Deborah Knott Mysteries, #16)
  • The Namesake (Commissario Alec Blume #3)
  • The Odds (Richard Christie, #4)
  • Murder on the Bride's Side (An Elizabeth Parker Mystery, #2)
  • Unknown Means
  • A Night Too Dark (Kate Shugak, #17)
  • For Richer, For Danger
  • Playing God (Joe Burgess, #1)
  • The Cruel Ever After (Jane Lawless, #18)
  • The Killing Storm (Sarah Armstrong, #3)
  • Gunshot Road (Emily Tempest, #2)
  • Judging Time (April Woo, #4)
  • Slash and Burn (Dr. Siri Paiboun, #8)
  • Locked In
  • Blood Moon (Inspector Challis, #5)
SJ Rozan, a native New Yorker, is the author of the Bill Smith and Lydia Chin detective series as well as several stand-alone novels. She has won the the Edgar, Nero, Macavity, Shamus and Anthony awards for Best Novel and the Edgar award for Best Short Story. She is a former Mystery Writers of America National Board member, a current Sisters in Crime National Board member, and President of the Pri ...more
More about S.J. Rozan...

Other Books in the Series

Lydia Chin & Bill Smith (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • China Trade (Lydia Chin & Bill Smith, #1)
  • Concourse (Lydia Chin & Bill Smith, #2)
  • Mandarin Plaid (Lydia Chin & Bill Smith, #3)
  • No Colder Place (Lydia Chin & Bill Smith, #4)
  • A Bitter Feast (Lydia Chin & Bill Smith, #5)
  • Stone Quarry (Lydia Chin & Bill Smith, #6)
  • Reflecting the Sky (Lydia Chin & Bill Smith, #7)
  • Winter And Night (Lydia Chin & Bill Smith, #8)
  • The Shanghai Moon (Lydia Chin & Bill Smith, #9)
  • Ghost Hero (Lydia Chin & Bill Smith, #11)

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »