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3.24  ·  Rating details ·  1,967 ratings  ·  349 reviews
A thrilling work of sophisticated suspense set amid the Vietnamese underworld in Las Vegas.

Robert, an Oakland cop, still can't let go of Suzy, the enigmatic Vietnamese wife who left him two years ago. Now she's disappeared from her new husband, Sonny, a violent Vietnamese smuggler and gambler who's blackmailing Robert into finding her for him. As he pursues her through the
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published August 3rd 2015 by W. W. Norton Company (first published July 27th 2015)
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3.24  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,967 ratings  ·  349 reviews

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Jun 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
Apologies in advance to the author for what I am about to say, but this is just my opinion. The book didn’t really work and the reasons are manifold. It had a strong start, partly because I misinterpreted the prose to indicate that the main character was a youngish Vietnamese-American cop. That seemed a completely fresh and unique angle on a crime novel or series, but it turned out the main character was in fact a white, middle-aged man, Robert Ruen, married to a Vietnamese immigrant, Phạm Thị H ...more
Diane S ☔
Jun 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Robert is an Oakland cop who had been married to Suzy, a Vietnamese refugee for eight years, when following a night of domestic abuse, she leaves him. He finds out that she has married a man named Sonny who has broken her arm causing her once again to flee. He always found Suzy and her strange ways, reactions and emotional disturbances, difficult to understand. He goes to Las Vegas to seek her out and offer his help. His chance for atonement and understanding.

He finds more than he bargained for,
Aug 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
A Strobing, Suspenseful, Genre-Elusive Literary Novel
Brash | Tense | Tender

The Dragonfish

This short genre-defying novel wowed me with suspenseful symmetry in following Robert, a mulish Oakland cop with a vigilante streak, as he searches for his ex-wife who's disappeared from her current husband, a Vietnamese mob boss in Las Vegas who raises dragonfish* for fun. Dragonfish's cadence, in mixing thrilling present-day narrative with intriguing back story of a down-and-out cop and his Vietnam War
Sep 01, 2015 rated it did not like it
Okay, so this cop is in love with this chick he was married to. But, even though he was married to her for eight years, he really did not know her because they never talked about anything that was of any import. The cop stereotypes Vietnamese with shrimp paste as in "I caught a whiff of shrimp paste in the air, that nostalgic smell I would forever link to the Vietnamese." Okay that is pretty trite.

The writing, in places, leaves a lot to be desired, for example, "He is not here, Mr. Robert," he r
Book Riot Community
Neo-noir is one of my favorite genres, but it’s hard to find books that really get it right and harder to find books that do something different with it. Robert is a cop who is still obsessed with his ex-wife Suzy, a secretive Vietnamese immigrant who left him years ago. His obsession sends him to Suzy’s new husband, Sonny, a Vietnamese gangster in Las Vegas and from there things go about as well as you’d expect. It’s a dark and sometimes violent book, but Tran sometimes interrupts Robert’s stor ...more
L.A. Starks
Nov 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Amazing West Coast noir/literary fiction from a Vietnamese author who grew up in Oklahoma, earned degrees at the University of Tulsa, the Iowa Writers Workshop and the University of Nevada, and who now teaches creative writing at the University of Chicago.

Tran takes readers well inside the Las Vegas community with a story about an enigmatic woman who has never really left her past behind, yet never reconciled to it.

Dragonfish is authentic in the best sense of the word: highly original and highly
Aug 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-reads
I loooooved this book but I am only giving it four stars. Why?

1. Production editors: Please quit placing huge blocks of text--and especially WHOLE CHAPTERS--in italics. They are hard to read (b looks like h, for starters) and readers tend to skim them. I am no exception.

2. Bob/Robert's insistence in calling Hong Suzy. This drove me mad--it wasn't her name--and then other characters were doing it, too. Was that intentional (why?) or an error? Sonny and his son would never have called her Suzy a
Aug 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
From the jacket cover, the reader learns that this novel is about an Oakland cop who is asked to find his ex-wife who is currently married to a Vietnamese smuggler and gambler; in this pursuit, the cop learns more about his ex-wife than he ever knew during his 8-year marriage. That sort of describes the novel. For me, what is notable is the story of damaged Vietnamese refugees along with the ugly underbelly that runs Las Vegas. This noir type novel leaves the reader feeling the bleakness and hop ...more
Jun 02, 2015 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody
Shelves: fiction, mystery
/rubs face

I just really want to read a book that has likable characters. Or at the very least, characters that do things that are rational. The girl in the last book I read (Sorcerer to the Crown) was an impulsive idiot who bulldozed her way into situations without a care for consequences, especially to others. The main female in this book is just the same, throwing herself into one bad situation after another, selfishly expecting people to just deal with her crazy mood swings and irrational, vi
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Dragonfish by Vu Tran purports to tell the story of an Oakland cop, Robert, searching for his ex-wife Suzy (Hong) in Las Vegas and learning she has a long-lost daughter who is a poker player. He has been "hired" by Suzy's new husband (Sonny) to find her and there is great animosity between Robert and Sonny.

This book did not have a single character who was likable or to champion. While the book at first appears to be about Robert and his sadness over losing Suzy and feeling he needs to make amend
Nov 29, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-fiction
This isn't that book. This is another book.

It's fashionable for expatriates to moan about the bubble they live in, but I like it OK, in part because I can read more here than back in my home country and also you are more likely to run into people who read books. Furthermore, when in country X, you are likely to run into people who have read books about country X, which you yourself may have read and want to talk about. Talking about books is one of the most pleasant ways to talk to people, altho
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A couple of years ago, Hong -- or Suzy, as he called her -- the wife of Oakland, California, cop Robert Ruen, walked out on him after he'd hit her. Later, following their divorce, she reappeared as the wife of a Las Vegas gambler and crook, Sonny, who Robert learned was maltreating her. An attempt by him to "persuade" Sonny to change his ways was an abject failure. Now, though, Sonny is blackmailing him into returning to Vegas and tracking down Hong, who has made herself scarce from a second mar ...more
Jessica Woodbury
Dragonfish got on my to-read list nearly a year ago but I never managed to get my hands on a copy. Luckily a friend passed along her galley and I finally sat down to read it this week, only to kick myself for waiting so long. I love neo-Noir and Dragonfish is absolutely Noir in the classic sense. There is a tortured good guy who's not really that good. There is a gangster nemesis. There is a mysterious woman. There is no happy ending and no tidy solutions. But Tran uses the Noir style and struct ...more
Not sure if the protagonist is supposed to come across as a hateful sexist and we're meant to dislike him, or if the author has written a misogynistic wanker and isn't aware of it. Read over 50 pages and wasn't intrigued enough to find this out. Here are a few quotes that made me mad:

'I found I loved her most when she was sick and had no choice but to let me take care of her...keep her housebound'

'Her real name was Hong... But it sounded a bit piggish the way Americans pronounced it, so I sugges
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amy Vaterlaus
Jun 04, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: my-2015-reads
This was a hard one to rate because I was really looking forward to this book based off the summary and I was really disappointed. I really hated the characters. There was not one likable character and I knew this from the beginning with the relationship between Robert and Suzy that I should just stop there, but I kept going because I thought maybe there would be some kind of ah ha! moment where it could possibly make any sense as to how they even lasted in an 8 year marriage. I understand the t ...more
Jun 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
I obtained an ARC of this book and really enjoyed it!

There are actually two stories and I thought the author transitioned well between the two.

Robert was married to Suzy and she is now missing. He is basically blackmailed into finding her for her current husband. Her life has gone from the devout practicing Catholic wife of an Oakland cop to the wife of a thug living in Las Vegas and the secrets and scandal Sin City has to offer. As he is searching for Suzy he discovers things and family he ne
Navdeep Singh Dhillon
Murder. Mystery. Literary Thriller. Noir. Crime Fiction. Whatever you want to call it, it's riveting and unfurls like the best crime fiction should. Sometimes slowly for that slow burn, sometimes abruptly sending you reeling with its plot. Suzy, Robert's Vietnemese wife leaves him. Two years later, she disappears again from her new husband. The new husband, a violent Vietnemese criminal blackmails Robert, a policeman, into finding her for him. Through this case, he finds out more about the enigm ...more
SAC O'Rourc
Sep 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
Disappointing given the cover blurb. I should have read the negative reviews before investing my time. The slow pacing and the boatloads of unrelated flashbacks do not jive with my idea of a thriller. Lots of detailed descriptions of this and that but I do not get a sense of the main protagonist early on and I do not care for him. It shows that Dragonfish is a first novel. After slogging through the ending I ask myself what was the point. Nice wortdsmithing and some interesting background on Vie ...more
Patrick O'Neil
May 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dark, seedy, intense - the underbelly of the underbelly, and then they all go to Vegas. Sad and lonely story that speaks tons about the complications of relationships - excellent read!
Ambs ❤❤
Update, one day after review was written → I am dropping my rating down to 2 ★'s because I'm still fuming at the (view spoiler)!

Original Review ↓

Well, now I have mixed feelings about this story. You'll see why in a bit. This review may contain some spoilers, just an FYI.

This story was told by two different points of view. The first, from Bob's standpoint, was told in the present. This part of the story had the feel of The Junior Bender Series by Timothy Halligan. It was fe
David W.E.
So I've been making a conscious effort to read more straightforward commercial fiction this year because I haven't really read any for a long time. This is the second "mystery thriller" I've read this year in which the ending does not resolve the major mystery of the story. Is this a thing now?? If so, it is a thing that I hate.


So the plot is that a Vietnamese refugee comes to America and shortly thereafter abandons her infant daughter. She meets and marries this Oakland cop but he's
Jamie Canaves
If you’re looking for noir that explores modern issues and/or are a fan of dark literary works, this was a great read. There are two running stories at once, past and present: one of a woman explaining her immigration from Vietnam through a series of letters, and the other is Robert, a cop obsessed with his ex-wife Suzy. He’s obsessed enough to drive to Vegas to threaten her current husband, but nothing goes as planned and soon the reader is plunged into the dark world these characters navigate ...more
Aug 14, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016

This was fine, this was an average story that would have been way better if I'd read it two years ago before the mass influx of "woman goes missing, (ex) husband/boyfriend has to find her" stories that have completely over-saturated the Thriller/Suspense genre due to "Gone Girl" blowing up. Therefore, I give it the average rating of 2.5 stars.

Basically there just wasn't anything super special about this book. It felt like I was reading another Gone Girl knock off with a Vietnamese twi
Rich Goldblatt
Sep 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
Thought the Vietnamese author and storyline would be interesting but didn't work for me. Couldn't identify with the weak characters and, in fact, I didn't like anyone at all. Want more? Sluggish plot, inexplicable behavior and confusing flashbacks. Skip it and wait for this author's 2nd novel, which is bound to be better.
Jun 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads-won
I won this book from GoodReads. I have to be honest I did not think I would enjoy Dragonfish. That said I loved Dragonfish!! I did have to put it down only because I didn't want to finish it so fast. I loved how it was Robert and Suzy telling their sides of the story. I was hoping that Happy had a happy outcome. Everything all in one: mystery, thriller, crime and love. A summer must read!!
Sep 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Linda by: Xtian
More twists and turns than Le Monde.
An American cop searches for his Vietnamese ex-wife who has been abused by her new husband. Everybody in this book has many secrets and are reluctant to share with anybody. Every person tries to protect Suzy, but I'm not sure any one of them knows why.
Aug 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Still gathering my thoughts for my review.
Really enjoyed - thought it was a great noir mystery with a side story and a literary touch - what more can I ask for.
Aug 26, 2015 rated it it was ok
Engaging at times, but generally meh.
Sep 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
My interview with view Vu Tran:
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Vu Tran's first novel, Dragonfish, was a NY Times Notable Book and a San Francisco Chronicle Best Books of the Year. His short fiction has appeared in the O. Henry Prize Stories, the Best American Mystery Stories, Best of Fence, and other publications. He is the winner of a Whiting Writers’ Award and an NEA Fellowship, and has also been a fellow at Bread Loaf, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and ...more
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“The lesson of my childhood was that if you anticipate misfortune, you make it hurt less. It’s a fool’s truth, but what truth isn” 4 likes
“Next time you want to get back at another man, stab him in the heart. Don't piss in his rice.” 2 likes
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