Snakes Can’t Run
by Ed Lin
GENRE: FICTION/Mystery & Thriller
Set in New York City in 1976, Snakes Can’t Run finds NYPD detective Robert Chow still haunted by the horrors of his past and relegated to tedious undercover work. When the bodies of two undocumented Chinese men are found under the Brooklyn Bridge underpass, Chow is drawn into the case. Most of the officers in his precinct are concerned with a terrorist group targeting the police, but Chow’s investigation puts him on the trail of a ring of ruthless human smugglers who call themselves the snakeheads. As Chow gets closer to solving the murder, dangerous truths about his own family’s past begin to emerge. Steeped in retro urban attitude, and ripe with commentary on minorities’ roles in American society, this gritty procedural will appeal to fans of George Pelecanos and S.J. Rozan.
By the time I got to Henry Street under the Manhattan Bridge overpass, one black-and-white and one unmarked police car were already there.
Peepshow was standing at the edge of the crime scene, twirling his baton, the one thing he could do without fucking up. “Keep moving, keep moving!” he yelled to the murmuring Chinese people. He touched his cap when he saw me. I nodded back.
Two bodies, Asian men in their twenties, lay on their sides. Both had their hands tied behind them with wire. They didn’t look fresh, and one man’s tattoo behind his ears stood out in sharp contrast to the white bloodless flesh of his neck.
I walked up to English, but before I could say anything he put a hand on my shoulde.r
“These fucking bag monkeys won’t let me past the tape,” he said, pointing out the forensic team collecting samples around the bodies.
“They’re just trying to do their job right.”
“I’ll do their job for them right now. These guys died from gunshot wounds and the bodies were dumped here. You can analyze for blood type all you want, but you can’t find the criminals looking down a microscope.”
“I hear you.”
“You know what solves crimes?”
“Shoe leather. Walking around and asking questions.”
“Chow,” he said, coming in closer. “You see the guy in the crowd in the red knit shirt smoking a cigarette?”
“Yeah,” I said, knowing better than to look immediately.
“I don’t like his face. Too smug.”
“I’ll follow him.”
Welcome Ed Lin! Please start off by telling us a little about yourself.
Hello, good to be here! Well, I was a punk-rock kid and I had wanted to get something like a new Velvet Underground band together but I could never find the right personalities to stick it out, so here I am writing books! I love spicy foods but I’m allergic to seafood. I like cold weather but I also like walking barefoot in the grass. Chunky’s better than creamy.
Is Snakes Can’t Run a single title, or part of a series?
It’s a part of a series that follows the life and evolution/devolution of the narrator, NYPD detective Robert Chow.
What were your inspirations for the story?
I was thinking about issues of immigration and documentation and I transferred part of the conversation to New York’s Chinatown in the 1970s. Nothing was PC among cops then. They said and did anything they wanted to.
Please share your setting for Snakes Can’t Run. Have you ever lived or visited there? If so, what did you like most?
New York City in the 1970s. It’s shortly after the city nearly went bankrupt. Garbage is piling up in the streets, cops are facing public charges of corruption even as their ranks are thinned by dwindling city coffers. Crime is rampant. Who knows what’s going on in Chinatown? Only Robert Chow.
When did the writing bug first bite?
I’ve wanted to write since I first learned to write. I’ve always wanted to tell and be told stories.
Who are you favorite authors, book/series?
Decorum dictates that I restrict my answer to dead authors! Dashiell Hammett, Chester Himes, Norbert Davis, Charles Willeford, James T. Farrell, Shirley Jackson and Dorothy B. Hughes all come to mind,
If you could have an author roundtable discussion with any authors, who would you invite?
Lou Reed, Toni Morrison, Amy Tan, Bob Mould and Iceberg Slim. I sure wouldn’t say much, I’d want to listen to them talk about their habits, what they like to read and their favorite foods.
Do you have any hobbies or special things you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy using and souping up old Apple Powerbooks. I install solid-state drives and increase memories. It’s sorta like a guy who works on cars in his garage.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve heard or seen?
I’ve experienced a ghost! I lived one summer in a haunted farmhouse all by myself. A big snoring sound would come out of one of the empty bedrooms opposite mine. It didn’t happen every night but when it did it was a peaceful entity. If it had said, “Get out!” I woulda been so outta there!
What is the one thing that you would tell an inspiring writer to do?
Don’t try to rush to publication. Take as much time writing and revising as possible. Make it the best story/novel you can before you even tell anyone else about it.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Ed Lin, a native New Yorker of Taiwanese and Chinese descent, is the first author to win three Asian American Literary Awards and is an all-around standup kinda guy. His books include Waylaid and This Is a Bust, both published by Kaya Press in 2002 and 2007, respectively. Snakes Can’t Run and One Red Bastard, which both continue the story of Robert Chow set in This Is a Bust, were published by Minotaur Books. His latest book, Ghost Month, a Taipei-based mystery, was published by Soho Crime in July 2014. Lin lives in Brooklyn with his wife, actress Cindy Cheung, and son.
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE:
Ed Lin will be awarding a limited edition print copy of the book to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.