Created by John Triptych
Although primarily a sci-fi writer, John Triptych has written and published two books (so far) about TOMMY “DAPPER” LUOO, a Chinese-American private eye in 1940-50s Los Angeles, and he intends to keep going.
As the author says, “If you like hard-boiled detective fiction with equal helpings of James Ellroy, Walter Mosley, Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald, and Dashiell Hammett, check ’em out.”
When we first meet him, in The Boy in the Gutter (2020), it’s 1947, and Tommy’s a Chinese-American with a taste for clothes (hence the nickname), studying accounting at UCLA. He still lives at home, is a member of the cross country team and fantasizes about being a private detective (he smokes Chesterfields, just like Bogart does in The Big Sleep).
But when the sexually mutilated body of a young Asian boy is found in the alley behind his parent’s Chinatown restaurant, he decides to poke around a little.
After all, the LAPD is too busy scratching their asses and collecting graft to put much effort into the murder of some “Oriental,” so what harm could a little poking around be?
Needless to say, it gets complicated. Along the way, he befriends an ambitious (and attractive) young freelance reporter, Frances Byner, who shares his enthusiasm for crime.
When we next hook up with Dapper again in Oceans of Brass (2021), it’s 1950, and he’s still living at home but he hasn’t given up on his gumshoe ambitions. He’s graduated from UCLA (with honours!), but instead of looking for accounting work, he’s been doing occasional jobs, mostly “divorce stuff,” for Beverly Hills private investigator Everett Wayne. Behind his parents’ backs.
But when he demands more challenging cases, he and Wayne have a falling out. And then a case all his own falls into his lap–a childhood friends of his, a Chinese gang leader’s son, has gone missing.
At this rate, Dapper will be a full-fledged private eye any book now, but meanwhile it’s fun watching him slowly turn pro, even though some of the expected racism he encounters along the way (and his sometimes poorly advised reaction to it) chafes. Still, the colourful outsider’s take on Los Angeles history, similar at times to Walter Mosley’s approach in the Easy Rawlins series, and a intriguing cast of characters make this a series to watch.
- The Boy in the Gutter (2020) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
- Oceans of Brass (2021) | Buy this book | Kindle it!
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.