Black Jade – A Daiyu Wu Mystery Reviews
★★★★★ out of 5 Delightful new cozy mystery with a strong woman character.
Reviewed in the United States on September 3, 2021
This story presented a unique plot twist – it starts with the discovery of the murder weapon, leading the main characters to discover the who and why. The story is set around 1930, in Dallas, Texas. Told in 1st person narrative, Jacques is companion to Dai Wu, daughter of the owners of White Laundry. The murder weapon is apparently a green ball gown, left anonymously at the laundry shop overnight. Dai’s enhanced sense of smell, recognizes that the ball gown is a source of arsenic. This sets them on an adventure as they attempt to verify the arsenic content, and then try to find the victim, and ultimately the murderer. What is also unique about this story is that Dai is not only a Chinese immigrant (at this time, the Chinese immigrants are considered the Yellow Menance), but she also been blind from birth, a condition that forced her parents to leave their country and relocate to America, or face the tradition of putting their infant daughter to death. Dai while blind is a strong female character, extremely intelligent and knowledgable, relying on Jacques to be her eyes for the world around her. Along the way, they meet and befriend another strong woman character in the form of Dr. Aiden Campbell. And then there is the delightful canine companion, Prince Razor. The story is extremely colorful, bringing to life the people and places of Dallas in this era (sometimes through Jacques descriptions to Dai, and sometimes just from his own thoughts). I absolutely loved this first in a series story, and hope there are more adventures for these characters. Disclosure: I am voluntarily reviewing this book and all opinions are strictly my own.
★★★★ out of 5
A promising and unique new series! Daiyu Wu is a woman not to underestimated!
Reviewed in the United States on August 23, 2021
If Sherlock Holmes were female, Chinese, and blind, he would be Daiyu Wu. Similar to the Holmes stories, Wu’s story is told her through assistant Jacques. With this perspective, the reader is also given a visual insight into the setting as he describes the scene around them to Daiyu. I liked how this worked! I also liked how the Wu family navigated the very racial environment of 1930s Texas and Daiyu expressed her independence. She didn’t let her sex, disability, or race keep her from doing what she wanted. Other than the direct comparison to the Holmes character, the story is set up very similar to many Agatha Christie books with many interconnected characters, each with a motive for being the killer. In fact, the characters themselves even reference the Dame near the conclusion. The overall setting of the book was very well expressed and I enjoyed getting to know the characters. The only element that I was not thrilled about was Jacques’ possessiveness of Daiyu. It seemed over the top. But, I will be waiting for the next in this unique series!
Thanks to Cozy Mystery Review Crew for a copy of the book. This review is my own opinion.
★★★★★ out of 5
An Entertaining, Educational Murder Mystery on the Cozy Side.
Reviewed in the United States on August 15, 2021
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 were 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.
★★★★ out of 5
How can you see without seeing?!?!
Reviewed in the United States on September 4, 2021
It’s amazing how when one of your senses is removed the others are heightened. This is definitely true for Daiyu Wu who was born blind but you wouldn’t know it unless you looked directly into her eyes. The 1930s in Dallas Texas must have been quite interesting, even though the racism toward the Asian population was ridiculously high which sadly was another reason Dai was under constant watch by her brotherly companion Jacques but still was able to solve a mystery even though others wouldn’t have let her out of their sight.
From the beginning this book kept me intrigued right through until they named the murdered in which I was interestingly surprised they did it alone. The characters were well described and the descriptions of everywhere Dai & Jacques went made me feel as if I was right there with them. I definitely recommend this book and am interested in reading more stories by Gloria Oliver.
★★★★ out of 5
Promises to be a good series.
Reviewed in the United States on May 23, 2021
This promises to be a great cozy mystery series! Daiyu Wu is a great young detective who doesn’t let her disability or her heritage hold her back.
The use of an arsenic-laced ball gown as a murder weapon was a unique and interesting plot. I enjoyed trying to figure out how it was done, and what motive there could have been. Also, starting with the murder weapon, then having to find the body was a fun change to the cozy genre.
Though I enjoyed the story from Jacques’ perspective, I think it would be more interesting to have Dai as a narrator. Though she can’t use her eyes, she uses her other senses to her advantage. It would have been fun to be inside Dai’s head during her investigation.
The guilty party wasn’t hard to determine, though many of the characters had motive. I enjoyed the way that Gloria Oliver presented the clues through Dai and Jacques’ experiences.
I found this to be an enjoyable cozy mystery and look forward to more from Dai, Jacques, and Prince Razor!
I received a copy of this book for free from the author and am leaving this review voluntarily.
★★★★★ out of 5
Delightful “Who Done It” with Great Characters
Reviewed in the United States on July 13, 2021
Great little mystery set in a time when foreigners, especially the Chinese, were disliked, mistreated, and preyed upon by the federal government. The book provides a glimpse into the prejudice and bigotry of people who don’t like anyone, or anything, that doesn’t look and behave just like they do. I loved the language of the time period (1930’s) with words such as popinjay! The opening sequence is delightful with its detailed descriptions and the behaviors of the characters as the mystery unfolds. Jacques is a main character and there were times I couldn’t decide if his behavior was because he just had a suspicious nature or if he was he jealous of Pierce’s attention to Dai – who is really the main character in the book. The story provided an entertaining look into prohibition and the ways (and who) could bend the rules. The book was a fun read with a great introduction to both the story and the characters.
I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.