Why would a burglar break into a Washington, D.C., art gallery and steal an historic fountain pen worth $2200, but leave behind other art and cultural objects worth tens of thousands of dollars each? And why would someone else later commit murder to protect the burglar's secret?
These are some of the questions that confront Socrates Cheng - an American of Chinese and Greek heritage - in Steven M. Roth's intricate murder mystery, Mandarin Yellow. Socrates investigates the burglary and attempts to recover the pen, all in an effort to curry favor with his lover's estranged father who's the leader of a Washington and Shanghai-based criminal triad.
In a search that takes him from Georgetown to Chinatown and elsewhere in Washington, Socrates finds himself threatened, physically assaulted, suspected of having committed murder, jailed for a time, and constantly confronted by conflicts arising out of his three disparate cultures. Yet, he is neither daunted nor deterred by these obstacles. Instead, Socrates draws upon his deep knowledge of vintage fountain pens, Chinese history, and the Mandarin language to puzzle out the complex motives behind the burglary and murders, until he finally uncovers the identities of the criminals and makes a discovery that forever changes his life and the lives of everyone else involved.
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