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

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  431 ratings  ·  83 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)
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Kathryn McCary
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
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
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
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
Robert J.
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.
Lynn Kearney
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.
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
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.
Mark Stevens
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
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Bill Smith’s longtime partner. Lydia Chan, has been kidnapped.

The kidnapper, a man Smith sent to jail a decade ago, is hell-bent on revenge. From the opening chapter Rozan has created a thriller at a frantic pace that builds to a crescendo that we ride on like a rollercoaster.

We are led on a whiplash tour of New York at the whim of a crazy man. Along the way we pick up a cast of nefarious characters, Asian pimps and their Chinese call-girls, Lydia’s kid cousin and his Italian girlfriend, ex-wiv
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
This book was a blast - a top notch, clever suspense thriller with great, hard to figure out puzzle type clues, but it also had a good deal of humor. In this book, which is Bill's, Lydia is missing and Bill has 12 hours to find her. Happily help comes in the form of Lydia's slacker and hilarious cousin Linus, a computer geek. His and Bill's skill set are a good combination. Rozan is an expert at leading you on - every twist the book takes is slightly unexpected, but fairly set up. She's such a p ...more
Ashland Mystery Oregon
I'd forgotten how much I enjoy SJ Rozan's Bill Smith and Lydia Chin books set in the streets and neighborhoods of one of my favorite cities, New York. This one has Lydia Chin kidnapped and Bill frantic to find her. He partners with two unlikely, and very likeable technologists, Linus and Trella. Linus is Lydia's nephew so Chinese and is in love with Trella, a cat-like Italian woman who is as physically fearless as Linus is methodical and focused. Great combination of skill-sets, ethnologies and ...more
Bill Smith becomes the narrating principal in this thriller that pits testosterone versus ration teamwork...and in the process reveals a lot about Lydia Chin's enigmatic "partner". Written as always with a well orchestrated ebb and flow of clues that shift just about the time you think the solution is within your grasp!
More like 3.5 stars. Good pacing, great characters, especially Lydia's hacker cousin Linus and his Goth girlfriend Trella, and the crew of Chinatown pimps and thugs that wind up helping them in the search for the bad guy from Bill's past who has kidnapped Lydia.

The bad guy is a bit cartoonish, and the scavenger hunt that he sends them on in the search for Lydia is a bit over the top, but as usual in these books, the New York cityscape is spot on.
Oct 28, 2010 Richard rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mystery, drama, suspense lovers, anyone who likes New York stories.
Recommended to Richard by: I read all Ms. Rozan's work.
Ms. Rozan takes a common problem, a kidnapping that can be solved only by running around to various locales to find clues to where the hostage can be found, and handles it masterfully. This is an interesting travelogue of Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn.

Of course there is a short deadline...12 a mystery as to who this voice from the past that hates Bill so bad, belongs to. For an added kicker a young female who could be Lydia is imperiled at every turn.

For the most part, this is a st
Funny book. Funny odd. I thought, oh no - not another kidnapping/ race against time book. I should have known better. S J Rozan has written an original, compelling, WONDERFUL book that I've read and re-read and re-read again. This is what happens when you're reading a master.
Glenn Harris
Private detectives Lydia Chin and Bill Smith are partners and always work cases together, regardless of which one is narrating the book...but not this time. This time Bill has to work alone as he desperately tries to find Lydia before she's killed by her kidnapper.
Another good one from S.J. Rozan, this one with her male detective (Bill Smith) taking the lead. It doesn't seem that promising at first, with a threatening guy on the phone who keeps repeating himself. But it grows stronger after Smith contacts Lydia Chin's geeky young cousin Linus, who with a Goth girlfriend, refuses to stop helping. The one piece of advise I'd give the author (and all mystery writers) is not to put the novelty of some new technology front and center. By the time a book is pub ...more
Una Tiers
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This book was a complete guilty pleasure. I'm a fan of this series and have read all of the previous books in it. Some of the previous books have sent me scouring Chinese restaurants in search of oysters with green onions. Anyway, the series usual heroine, Lydia Chin, is seen only at the very end of the book. Her partner, Bill Smith, carries the load along with some wonderful assistance from Linus and Trella - hilarious characters. The dialogue was well done if slightly repetitious (dude).

Richard Thompson
I knew for the jacket blurb that Lydia had been kidnapped by a man from Bill's past with a major grudge, and I wondered how well it would work with one of the major players sidelined. Bill, though, enlists the help of Lydia's cousin Linus and his Goth girlfriend Trella, and they are great characters.

The plot revolves around a series of puzzles that Bill, Linus and Trella have solve as they get closer and closer to Lydia and the deadline that the killer has set.

Clever plotting. Two places where R
Only criticism - too much use of the word "dude", but other than that, enjoyed this book as much as I have the others in the series.
Kaje Harper
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
A very tautly written and suspenseful entry in this series. Told from the point of view of private investigator Bill Smith, who is forced to play a game with a madman who has kidnapped his sometimes partner, Lydia Chin. This has the feel of a thriller, but the characters are much more complex and well thought out than is typical for that genre. The plot is exceptionally tight and the author is particularly clever at weaving in social media. Sometimes, however, I wish that the author would give B ...more
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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
  • Concourse (Lydia Chin & Bill Smith #2)
  • Mandarin Plaid
  • 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)
China Trade The Shanghai Moon (Lydia Chin & Bill Smith #9) Winter And Night (Lydia Chin & Bill Smith #8) Concourse (Lydia Chin & Bill Smith #2) Mandarin Plaid

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