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Chinatown Beat (A Detective Jack Yu Investigation #1)

liked it 3.00  ·  Rating Details  ·  605 Ratings  ·  84 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
Hardcover, 204 pages
Published November 1st 2006 by Soho Crime
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Dec 02, 2008 Rosa rated it liked it
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
Jan 29, 2016 Maddy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2006-reads, tops
PROTAGONIST: Jack Yu, NYPD detective
SETTING: New York City, 1990
SERIES: #1 of 2

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 experiences have provided an authenticity to the setting that could only be delivered by someone who was intimate with the nuances of the area. In addition, Chang has done an extraordinary job in render
Dec 23, 2010 J.R. rated it liked it
Shelves: thrillers
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
Feb 13, 2011 Katie rated it it was ok
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
Feb 11, 2009 Ed rated it really liked it
Shelves: henry-chang
"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
Dec 22, 2010 Molly rated it liked it
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
Sep 08, 2012 Doctor Sax rated it really liked it
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 liked it  ·  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.
May 08, 2009 Alisa rated it liked it
More interesting for the well-drawn portraits of Chinatown characters and environs, and for the melancholy viewpoint of the American-born child of immigrants (the perfect noir outsider, really), than for the murder and detective work. Still, an enjoyable read.
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.
Oct 22, 2014 Viktor rated it really liked it
Some of the low ratings given to this are head-scratchers. Some of the reviewers sound like they'd be more comfortable reading a Charlie Chan book -- which is fine if that's their preference.

This is a hard-boiled detective novel -- not a crime novel. IE, the crime is secondary to the detective's story. It's not Politically Correct. It's not for light reading on a summer day. It builds at a slow, deliberate pace. It's told from several different POV's in short -- sometime VERY short -- chapters,
May 14, 2016 Bethany rated it really liked it
I've been in a noire mood and this hit the spot perfectly. A cop who takes a lot of crap for being Chinese from his fellow officers and for being a cop from the people he grew up with in Chinatown.
It gave me an insight into a culture I will never have access to. A chance to view racism from a side one rarely gets to see from.
I like the main character. He has his own issues but the ability to grow through some of them. He's a good person, and he doesn't shy away from the truth whether it's abou
Diane Adams
I needed a murder mystery for my 2016 reading challenge, and this looked like a fairly quick read. It wasn't really my cup of tea, though it was well written, well researched, well thought out. I wish I had actually read the reviews on the back before reading the book--I had heard of film noir, but did not realize that noir was also a book genre? I was expecting more of a whodunit, but one of the reviews pointed out that it was not a whodunit, but the story of the detective following the clues o ...more
Tito Quiling, Jr.
May 06, 2013 Tito Quiling, Jr. rated it it was ok
Shelves: crime-suspense
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
Dec 27, 2010 Scot rated it it was ok
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
Jack Yu, a cop from a Chinese background, has returned to police his old neighbourhood in New York's Chinatown.
We follow two other characters as well, both with dreams of escaping--a limo driver and a rich Tong leader's mistress.
Prejudice and racism and American society are dealt with, as well as entrenched criminality in the Chinese community.
Different perspective. Interesting.
Ellen Kirschman
Apr 23, 2015 Ellen Kirschman rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: mystery lovers
This is my first, but not my last, Henry Chang book. Chang is a very skillful writer combining a strong sense of place and character with a fast moving plot. He knows Chinatown and takes the reader to places most of us never go and introduces people most of us would never meet.
Gayle Francis Moffet
Jun 08, 2011 Gayle Francis Moffet rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011, fiction, june-2011
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
Patrick O'Neil
Jun 02, 2010 Patrick O'Neil rated it it was ok
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
Frances L
Feb 27, 2016 Frances L rated it liked it
Jack Yu is a detective with the NYC police assigned to Chinatown. He is working a serial rapist case and a the same time gets involved in the shooting death of an important made-man in the Chinese underworld. This is a classic noir.
Mar 23, 2013 Gracie rated it liked it
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
May 17, 2014 Salem Salem rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 05, 2016 Diana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A glimpse into Chinatown

I enjoyed the story and look into Chinatown life. It sets up some running storylines for future books. Looking forward to the next book.
Sep 30, 2009 Babette rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery-suspense
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
Christa Sigman
Nov 23, 2015 Christa Sigman rated it it was ok
Tiresome Boring not even intriguing enough to read on a long commute with nothing else to do. Tried yesterday and today half way through And don't care how it ends
Nov 28, 2015 Matthew rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-crime
The Joy Luck Club this ain't!
As a police procedural set in NYC's Chinatown, with more than a dash of Fight Club's ultra-machismo, it works pretty damned well.
On to Chang's Year of the Dog to see what happens next to Detective Yu.
Aug 14, 2014 Gail rated it liked it
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
Jul 30, 2014 Don Simpson rated it it was ok
It was ok, but quite tedious. It took a long time to get to the point, and resolution was unsatisfying.
Aug 03, 2015 Mark added it
First book of a new series. Unfortunately only 4 in total.
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
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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 ...more
More about Henry Chang...

Other Books in the Series

A Detective Jack Yu Investigation (4 books)
  • Year of the Dog
  • Red Jade
  • Death Money

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