Review: Black Jade by Gloria Oliver

Could an old-fashioned ballgown be used to commit murder?

Daiyu Wu is aware that fear of the Yellow Terror has made her nationality a rare breed in the Lone Star State. Being Chinese and blind makes her doubly unique in 1930 Dallas. Despite these impediments, anyone who dismisses her for either fact does so at their peril.

One day, at her family-owned laundry business, Dai detects the scent of burned garlic. With the help of her companion, Jacques, the source is soon discovered. It is a green ballgown. The gown has money pinned inside it to pay for the cleaning, but oddly, it came with no address label to identify its owner. Her extensive knowledge leads Dai to believe someone has committed murder using arsenic. The perpetrator is trying to use White Laundry to hide the evidence. But no mention of foul play turns up in the newspapers, and there’s not enough proof to convince the police there’s been a crime.

Her curiosity and intellect stimulated like never before; Dai ignores the possible consequences and sets out to solve the mystery with the help of her canine companion, Prince Razor, and her confidant, Jacques Haskins. It’s either that or let the killer get away with it — assuming a spoiled popinjay, his jealous self-appointed girlfriend, and Dai’s overprotective parents don’t get in her way.

Black Jade by Gloria Oliver. Book #1 in the Daiyu Wu Mystery. Narrated by Tom Briggs. Published in June 2021. Audiobook run time is 7 hours.

I received a copy of this audiobook from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Black Jade is a clever mystery set in 1930s, featuring an intriguing young Asian American blind woman named Daiyu. She uses her sense of smell to figure out that a murder has been commited. The story is told from the PoV of the companion, Jacques. It reminded me of Sherlock Holmes stories where Watson is the one telling the story. I was hooked right away.

There are a lot of characters to keep track of. I enjoyed the main characters a lot. Plus, the cute dog! How adorable. BUT I did have some trouble remembering who everyone else was, especially when they are all together.

Some of the confusion was due to the narrator that was used. He did not do accents, the men and women all sounded the same. The biggest problem was that he just sounded way too old to be the companion, Jacques. It was just hard to wrap my head around the voice matching the characters.

Even though the narrator felt like a miss match to the book, Black Jade is a lot of fun and very entertaining. I thought the plot was very creative and it is unique how Daiyu figured out that a murder had been committed. This really was a delightful start to this new series. I am curious to see where the series goes from here. I think historical fiction and cozy mystery fans will enjoy this story.


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