Annie Szabo has discovered a miracle: Jimmy Qi, a kid from Chinatown with the power to heal using music. He’s dazzling, he’s a scoundrel, he’s wise, and he makes a great newspaper article. But now, every unsavory character in San Francisco is after him.
These include members of the tong society; a CDC doctor; a dolphin fanatic; and an FBI agent who seems too good to be true. Feeling responsible for creating San Francisco’s latest hot commodity, Annie enlists her mother-in-law, the audacious fortune-teller Madame Mina, to help keep Jimmy safe from his avid pursuers. Then the bodies start turning up.
Though the spicy Szabo women would like to kick back with a warm lover, a good movie, and a few laughs, life has something else in mind. One meeting with an extraordinary boy leads them headlong into a wild adventure.
“…Nudged by mother-in-law Madame Mina, Annie writes an article about Jimmy Qi, a Chinese-American boy with the power to heal through music, which soon puts the youngster in danger. Everyone, it seems, wants a piece of the rising star of San Francisco’s Chinatown—including a shady evangelist, the FBI, the tongs and a man who talks to dolphins.
“After two suspicious deaths, Annie and Jimmy go on the lam, not knowing whom to trust or why. Leo Rosetti, Annie’s lover, and her daughter, E.B., are also tossed into the intrigue, along with meddling world-famous twins who have taken a shine to Annie and Jimmy. Through it all, Annie keeps her cool, until a devastating family secret is uncovered. The author … succeeds in weaving humor, zany characters and the occult into an entertaining story with serious undertones.” – Publisher’s Weekly
“Simultaneously kooky and mysterious.” Romantic Times Bookclub Magazine on The Red Hot Empress
“A madcap dash through San Francisco’s Chinatown and the crumbling Haight-Ashbury district with a cast of bona fide eccentrics.” Kirkus Reviews on The Red Hot Empress
“Hot all over! This is a great, fun read with a lot of heart. Annie Szabo is back for her third trip through Mystery Land, and she’s brought the whole endearing crowd of Usual Suspects. Plus a few more.
“Madame Mina, Annie’s Gypsy mother-in-law, is back as the most unorthodox sidekick in mystery history, and Blevins has thrown in some excellent and compelling additions. Blevins has a talent for writing totally believable characters and Jimmy Qi, who debuts in this novel, is charming and engaging.
“Annie’s clan goes through a few usual, and quite a few outrageous, life changes and manages to land on their feet (though not unscathed). The Szabos never do anything halfway and this story is no exception. I won’t spoil it for anybody who hasn’t read it yet, but the fireworks don’t stop from beginning to end. Love, laughter, hope, help, magic, danger and family collide in one glittering maelstrom.
“Another of Blevins’s talents is weaving in absorbing tidbits from various cultural influences, and without being heavy-handed or cloying. Here we’ve got Gypsies loose in Chinatown being chased by the Feds and it all makes perfect sense.”
“If you love a good mystery, buy this book. (I still can’t believe these people are not real.)” — Rebekah Maxwell
“A very good mystery–worth a read. The entire series is good–in the first book Annie deals with her past and comes to grips with it. Book 2, she really gets going on her adventures. Book 3 has the most complex plot.
“Blevins also has a way with descriptions–in one sentence you see Chinatown, you smell it, you’re there. The gypsy lore is perfectly done–you see parts of it without a lot of extraneous detail and it’s all completely believable. I really enjoyed how Annie’s love life developed in this book–it matured and left the baggage behind. The zany aspect isn’t gone however; Mina has it in spades, in her love life and lore, which fits perfectly. There’s enough action to make the pages turn–good, quick read, an excellent mystery for an afternoon.” — Maria Schneider
“Red hot fun, color, and adventure. In this novel, the third of the Annie Szabo mysteries, the author takes us into the heart and soul of one of the country’s least-understood realms, San Francisco’s Chinatown.
“Annie innocently writes a newspaper story about twelve-year-old Jimmy Qi, a healer of miraculous powers. Unfortunately, everyone now seems to want part of Jimmy. Feeling responsible, Annie takes the boy under her wing and, with the help of her zany Gypsy in-laws, risks her life and Jimmy’s to save him from the tongs, a televangelized faith healer, and some shadowy operatives within the U.S. government. A colorful, zany, suspenseful thriller, and the best book in a terrific series.” – Meg Mathews, Boston, USA