Chinatown Beat
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Chinatown Beat (Detective Jack Yu #1)

2.86 of 5 stars 2.86  ·  rating details  ·  436 ratings  ·  75 reviews
Detective Jack Yu grew up in Chinatown. Some of his friends are criminals now; some are dead. Jack has just been transferred to his old neighborhood, where 99 percent of the cops are white. Unlike the others, confused by the residents who speak another language even when they’re speaking English, Jack knows what’s going on.

He is confronted with a serial rapist who preys o...more
Hardcover, 204 pages
Published November 1st 2006 by Soho Crime
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Jack Yu is a man haunted by his past and uncertain in his place. A New York City detective assigned to the Fifth Precinct in Chinatown, he faces daily prejudice from his brother officers and contempt in the community he serves.

He is a man tormented by anger—anger over the sudden death of his father who never accepted the son’s choice of career, anger at those who prey upon the people least able to defend themselves, anger at those who accept things as they are.

But he is a good detective, and thi...more
This is like the single most boring episode of L&O:SVU ever. It's a mystery... kind of. It's a thesis on the diversity of Asian culture... kind of. It's about a pedophile rapist... kind of. It's about sex slavery... kind of.

This book was so confused, I couldn't finish it. Primarily because I never got a handle on what any of the characters had to do with the plot. It was just SO BORING after a while to read about someone's awful life when I wanted to know HOW THEY WERE GOING TO CATCH THE PED...more
PROTAGONIST: Jack Yu, NYPD detective
SETTING: New York City, 1990
SERIES: #1 of 2

Chinatown Beat
by Henry Chang
Soho Crime
ISBN: 1-56947-437-0
November 2006
Police procedural/noir
Debut – Detec. Jack Yu

REVIEWED BY: Maddy Van Hertbruggen
DUE DATE: 11/6/06
RATING: 5 quills

There's a truism that an author should write what he knows best, and I'm so glad that Henry Chang followed that advice in his debut novel, Chinatown Beat. Henry Chang grew up in New York's Chinatown, and his exper...more
I wasn't going to write a review for this book because I don't have much to say that isn't an echo of previous reviewers' comments - like many before me, I found the book entertaining and gritty-realistic enough, but somewhat flat in characterization and in the execution of its prose. The main reason I'm adding my two cents is because it seems no other Chinese American with some familiarity with Cantonese slang has done so up to this point, either here or on Amazon (or if they have, they didn't...more
Henry Chang is a good writer. He has a gift for drawing you in. When/if he gets over writing about cliches (downtrodden hooker, rogue cop, sneering punk) he could write some really great books. Oh and please, Mr. Chang, read some other books in which people deal with another language and how they handle it. It is NOT necessary to define every foreign word in the same sentence, or define AGAIN a word you just defined six pages ago. By chapter five I could speak Chinese, almost. Great if I were re...more
Doctor Sax
Although many did not enjoy this read....I really liked it. I admit with its flaws in character development and sometimes very short chapters, author Chang kept me turning the pages. Some did not like the ending, but I viewed it as an attempt to keep the story continuing into another jack Yu novel without comprimising the ending. Maybe because this was my first venture into "Chinatown" subject matter, I liked the book better than others, no matter the reason, I found this story very compelling.
May 01, 2008 Juha rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like mysteries situated in exotic locations.
As they say, in detective stories the most important thing is atmosphere. Henry Chang captures the atmosphere of New York's Chinatown very well and informs the reader of the many things going on there in secret. I live quite close to Chinatown and go there often for dinner and shopping. From now on, I will observe the characters hanging out on the street corners with new interest.
Meredith Galman
Interesting, gritty procedural set in the exotic world of New York's Chinatown. The writing is somewhat flat, and hero Jack Yu is a little whiny.
Tito Quiling, Jr.
From the onset, this might seem like a city-themed novel more than a crime novel. The setting is admittedly concrete, and one can anchor on it easily. What Chinatown Beat (2006) by Henry Chang serves is a hodgepodge of views around New York's Chinatown, primarily seen in the eyes of detective Jack Yu, who grew up in the Chinese enclave, intertwined with the lives of those he knew from his past, and because of his present work.

As a reader looking at the events as an outsider, the character of Jac...more
I don't have much to say that others haven't-Chinatown Beat is a bit uneven prose and plotwise-the initial mystery feels like a rather transparent prompt to have the book start somewhere and then abandoned until it's hastily resolved in a rather wooden manner in the end. If intended as a foil to the other crime it fails. Additionally the hints of what come across as misogyny from the lead character tend to render the female characters we encounter or intimately follow a bit hollow-given that the...more
"Chinatown Beat" isn't a mystery--we watch the murder that is central to the plot take place from the point of view of the killer. It is a very gritty crime novel that features New York Police Detective Jack Yu, and American Born Chinese (ABC) who is (as so many cop heroes seem to be) caught between two worlds. The friend he ran with as a teenager is gangster with a crew working for one of the many Triads with links to organized crime in Hong Kong, Shanghai and in every Chinatown in North Americ...more
A criminal procedural that shows us the underbelly of life in New York’s Chinatown in the 1990s, told from a mixture of disparate perspectives that are eventually brought together through obvious plot shifts.

This has cliched, underdeveloped characters, in part because the chapter mode is very, very short, never more than a few pages and sometimes just one paragraph. I realize this type of writing has accelerated among those generations of writers who have grown up watching a lot of TV, and I kno...more
Gayle Francis Moffet
The writing on "Chinatown Beat" is very interesting. Mr. Chang paints a very clear picture of the locations and people he wants us to know and recognize. His writing is fluid and interesting, and I enjoyed the visuals I got from reading his work.

The story, however, needs some work. It feels like Mr. Chang had three really interesting ideas for stories and tried to fit them together. It doesn't work, but I wish it did. All three plots were interesting, and I was curious as to how they would all f...more
Patrick O'Neil
Henry Chang's Chinatown Beat touches on the interesting subject of belonging. His protagonist is an outsider many times over. American-Chinese with one foot in neither culture. An outcast self removed from family and tradition - now a cop in a decidedly non-Asian police force. With New York's Chinatown as the setting Chang explores what it is like to be straddling the fence partially on the outside looking in. Yet, the frustrating part is his character isn't all the way out. He's a cop, he's a i...more
Chang writes a compelling, vividly descriptive and raw story, but there are definitely some major flaws. While it really exposes Chinatown's darker side, there's somewhat of a lack in character development. Detective Yu never quite brings any closure to anything. He's considered the hero of the story but I found the character, like I said, underdeveloped. The rape case is left untouched, he only resolves his daddy issues in what seems like a hurried ending, he doesn't even catch the right murder...more
Salem Salem
I met Henry at a reading in New York City. As I was living in the LES/Chinatown at the time, I was excited to find a local author who was writing from a Chinese perspective. Solid, straightforward writing.
I read this book because Qui Xiaolong recommended it on his page on Fantastic Fiction, and I really like Qui Xiaolong' books. This one was a bit of a disappointment. The reviews tout it as a classic tale noir, and I can understand that description. However, there is really no element of suspense in the book, which is where my disappointment lies. If one is interested in the dark side of Chinatown, the inner workings of Chinatown, then I recommend this. The characters are well-wrought, but I cann...more
Good read. More atmosphere than story, really, and I'd have liked it better the other way round, but it was interesting and worth reading.
Don Simpson
It was ok, but quite tedious. It took a long time to get to the point, and resolution was unsatisfying.
Ellen Dark
At first I wasn't sure I was going to finish this, but once I got into the story I couldn't read fast enough. I did skip the sex parts. They weren't an essential part of the story about a Chinese-American policeman transfered to the Chinatown division in New York City.
The story is told from several points of view. The reader follows the hero, a former friend turned criminal, and others. The blurb on the inside flap tells the reader of a crime that will take place. This meant that I spent a lot...more
Probably not a book I would read again but I did learn a lot about the fighting among various gangs in Chinatown in NYC -- the ending didn't satisfy me but perhaps there is a sequel that I should find. It was hard at first to keep track of the various characters because the chapters were about each of the characters, who would eventually intertwine in their activities. The plot was not straightforward and the use of Chinese words, followed by their English translation, slowed down my reading/und...more
I was looking for a nice light detective book and had this one recommended to me. Unfortunately the book fell short on almost every front. The story's pacing was choppy, the setting seriously antiquated (most of the characters complain about New York's rising crime rate and how in a few years the city would be taken over by criminals,) and the last part of the book had some seriously flawed plot developments. Add to all of those facts that this detective book didn't really have a mystery at all...more
New York Chinatown noir. I suppose if you knew Chinatown... or Chinese, you might get more out of this than I did. To me, there seemed to be more culture and language told here than story. I felt like I needed a flow chart to keep track of all the various Chinatown gangs and players. Frankly, I got confused as to who was Jack's former childhood friends and who were not... seemed an important fact to keep clear. Also, I just couldn't connect with the hero, who seemed to be just too much a lonely...more
Dee Renee  Chesnut
Nov 12, 2011 Dee Renee Chesnut rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers of noir detective novels
Recommended to Dee Renee by: Free Friday from B&N
Shelves: ebooks, 2011
This was a Free Friday selection in 2010, and it introduced me to the noir writing of Henry Chang. I did have some trouble in the beginning as I was confused between Johnny and Jack for the beginning, short scenes jump quickly. Once, I got the characters firmly in mind, the story is concerned with how can this police officer bring criminals to justice in Chinatown.
This book is no longer free from Barnes and Noble. It is entertaining for readers of noir detective novels.
I wanted to read the first in this series of detective stories about New York based Jack Yu. I liked how the author described the culture in New York's Chinatown as well as the prejudice within the NYPD amongst African American, Caucasian and Asian police officers. I thought the story was okay though I plan to read the next in the series so I can get a better feel for the author's style. Plus, the book had some loose ends to it, and I want to know happens with the incomplete parts.
Even though this is a relatively recent book, I marked it as Historical Fiction, because it takes place in the 1990s, and involves the events of the Goldern Venture.

I really enjoyed Chang's writing style, and found this to be a fascianting glimpse into a world of which I've only ever skimmed the surface, even when I was living right in the middle of it (I have a close friend who lived in Chinatown for 3 years, downstairs from a Chinese brothel).
Henry Chang first in what appears to be a new series of detective novels set in New York City. Detective Jack Yu is a second generation Cinese American cop in the New York City Police Force. The story in Chinatown Beat takes place in the month after Jack Yu's father's death. This novel is filled with description and insight into the Chinese experience in America and is in its own way a fascinating commentary on the idea of multi-culturalism...
Dewayne Stark
To read my review of this book please go to my blog at and look for the title Chinatown Beat
I seem to be having a real problem with "first in series" books lately, or at least I'm choosing badly. This one was very hard to read on Kindle, the format had lots of weird spacing, and I found the constant insertion of Chinese phrases followed immediately by the English translation to be very annoying. I read about 25% of it and realized I just really didn't care to read on.
This was a free nook book I finally got around to reading. It's a bit grittier than the mystery novels I usually read and has a lot of very short chapters that flip back and forth between characters. The ending seems as if the reader is being set up for the next book in the series, but I the characters and setting didn't grab me enought to want to continue with them.
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Henry Chang is a New Yorker, a native son of Chinatown and the Lower East Side. His poems have appeared in the seminal Yellow Pearl anthology, and in Gangs In New York’s Chinatown. He has written for Bridge Magazine, and his fiction has appeared in On A Bed Of Rice and in the NuyorAsian Anthology. His debut novel Chinatown Beat garnered high praise from the New York Times Book Review, the Boston G...more
More about Henry Chang...
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