From the creative imagination of Pornsak Pichetshote (Infidel) and Alexandre Tefenkgi (Outpost Zero) comes a gritty crime thriller set in San Francisco’s Chinatown during the sThe Good Asianocio-political climate of the Chinese Exclusion Act. The year is 1936, the maid of an ailing millionaire has gone missing, and his son has hired a Chinese American detective from Honolulu to unravel this conundrum in the first volume of The Good Asian.

In classic pulp fiction style, Pichetshote delves into a spiraling mystery that unreels like a noir film starring Edison Hark, a Chinese American detective who tackles the case in a cool and collected manner. He is initially hired by Frankie Carroway, son of the millionaire Mason Carroway (and Edison’s adopted father), to track down the whereabouts of twenty-five-year-old Ivy Chen. In a slick, calculating persona like the Benedict Cumberbatch version of Sherlock Holmes, Edison dives into this mystery with a keen eye, collecting details meticulously and leaving no clues unturned. In each scenario, he absorbs information with laser-sharp focus, whether it be the frayed sleeves of a colleague, unlatched locks on a door, or a bloodied hatchet at the scene of a crime. The trail leads him through a vibrant cast of characters and locales. The story begins in the barracks of the Angel Island Immigration Station, shifts to the mansion of the wealthy comatose Mason Carroway, segues into the soiree of an extravagant Chinatown night club featuring flamboyantly adorned dancers, and through the dark back alleys of Chinatown where lurks a reputed hatchet man. One clue leads to the next as he assembles clues that snowball into a daunting mystery that may even connect with his mother’s death.

Complementing Pichetshote’s plotting are monochromatic and dull colors that amplify the noir tone in this seedy atmosphere where malevolent forces strive to elude the self-effacing sleuth. Deftly illustrated scenes packed with action, drama, and nuanced character expressions unfold cinematically like the Kuleshov effect, challenging readers to connect images and actions occurring in between panels. Most intriguing is the characterization of Edison Hark, who navigates the labyrinthine streets of a criminally infested, racially discriminating society while wrestling with his own identity as a Chinese American.

While scores of pulp fiction mysteries abound, few have positioned Asian Americans in positive leading roles. Thus, The Good Asian will enrich adult genre collections, transcending standard tropes by addressing themes of immigration, identity, and racial prejudice. The back matter includes historical notes on the Angel Island Immigration Station that detained Chinese immigrants arriving in America and an annotated chronology of anti-immigrant legislation to contextualize the socio-political milieu of this era. This first volume delivers a fascinating twist on a noir mystery in the vein of Raymond Chandler and Cornell Woolrich, presenting an alternate view of the American experience and subverting the Charlie Chan stereotype of Asian Americans as model minorities, spotlighting them instead as agents of change to achieve social justice.


The Good Asian, vol. 1
By Pornsak Pichetshote
Art by Alexandre Tefenkgi
Image, 2021
ISBN: 9781534320949
Publisher Age Rating: M

NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+)
Creator Representation: Thai-American
Character Representation: Chinese-American

  • Jerry

    | He/Him Information Strategist, San Francisco Public Library

    Reviewer

    By day, Jerry Dear, APALA member and Information Strategist at the San Francisco Public Library tackles research questions in the Periodicals department. He also teaches in the Library Information Technology department at City College of San Francisco. By night, he serves the Asian American community and ventures into the vibrant literary arts and graphic novel scene. In whatever time remains, he indulges in comics, anime, manga, and Asian American literature and film.

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