Black Jade: A Daiyu Wu Mystery is the first book of the Daiyu Wu Mysteries series by Gloria Oliver. As a Book Reviewer, I received a free ebook copy of this book and this is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor any review.
The setting of Black Jade is Texas in 1930. In Black Jade, Ms. Oliver often refers to the Yellow Terror and Daiyu Wu and her family are treated as strange and looked down upon, and to be feared. If you know anything about 1930s U.S. history, it was at that time that Chinese immigrants were coming into the United States and westerners feared that the Chinese would invade their lands. They also believed the Chinese were a threat to Western values, and the media coined the term “Yellow Peril” when referring to the Chinese.
Apparently, Ms. Oliver decided to use the term “Yellow Terror” in her story and she portrayed how it affected a Chinese family who wanted nothing but to live in the United States and run their business. They had fled China because their daughter was not accepted in the Chinese culture because she was blind.
Black Jade is both a historical mystery and an amateur sleuth mystery, as young Daiyu is quite intelligent and very aware of her surroundings, and one day while working in the family’s laundry, she stumbles upon the scent of garlic. With the help of her friend, Jacques, she discovers the source of the odor is a green ballgown. This leads Daiyu to believe someone has committed murder using arsenic.
That is the beginning of the mystery that sends Daiyu, her dog, Prince Razor, and Jacques on quite an adventure to discover who was murdered and who committed the crime.
Gloria Oliver paints wonderful descriptions that take the reader deep into the places that Daiyu and Jacques go, into a society that isn’t quite sure how to react to a clever, blind Chinese girl, into a family that has problems, and into a coroner’s lab. She has created unique characters that are very interesting and engaging, and a murder mystery that will keep you guessing.
The only thing I struggled with while reading this story was being able to see Daiyu and Jacques as adults. The way they are treated by Daiyu’s parents and most of the people they came into contact with, as well as their interactions with and reactions to each other, convinced me they were youth. However, this did not, in any way, hinder my enjoyment of the story.
Daiyu’s dog, Prince Razor, and a young man who showed interest in Daiyu were wonderful additions to the cast of characters.
If you enjoy good murder mysteries on the cozy side, you will enjoy Black Jade. I will issue one warning for sensitive readers that there are a handful of curse words scattered about the story, but they can easily be overlooked.
Black Jade is well written, educational, and entertaining.
I give Black Jade by Gloria Oliver 5 stars.