Death Doesn't Forget

Though Death Doesn't Forget is the fourth in the Taipei Night Market series, versatile novelist Ed Lin nimbly ensures each volume could easily stand alone. Of course, the recommended route is to read the titles in order--Ghost Month; Incensed; 99 Ways to Die--to further appreciate Lin's insightful backgrounds for his multilayered recurring characters.

Jing-nan's meat, veggie and just-added donut skewers are undoubtedly some of the tastiest fare available in Taiwan's renowned Shilin Night Market. Running his family's food stall, Unknown Pleasures (named for a Joy Division album!), was never Jing-nan's dream, but onerous circumstances demanded he abandon his UCLA degree and return home. At 25, he's settled in with Dwayne and Frankie, two of the most loyal workers (and reliable friends) he could hope to find. As delicious as the menu is, however, what attracts customers in droves is Jing-nan's notorious propensity to be in the wrong place at the wrong time--and somehow getting linked to murder. This time he's being questioned for the brutal deaths of his sort-of (but not quite) father-in-law and a cranky cop who's had a personal vendetta against Jing-nan. No doubt he's innocent, which means he's going to have to find whodunnit.

"When high-profile crimes were solved, there did seem to be a high number of coincidences," Jing-nan muses near the mystery's end. Indeed, Lin's signature rollicking mixture of wink-wink noir and impossible fortuity is again on full display, balancing just enough chill with plenty of thrill. Murder is never funny, but at least a chuckle here and a guffaw there can't hurt the corpses. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

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