Haunting Mysteries and Historical Intrigue

“Right— we’re the good Orientals now. But I still can’t buy a house outside Chinatown. That’s ‘all men are created equal’ for you.”—Amy Chua, The Golden Gate.

In 1944 Berkeley, California, presidential hopeful Walter Wilkinson is found dead in his room at the Claremont Hotel, launching an investigation by Homicide Detective Al Sullivan. Early evidence points to the three granddaughters of wealthy socialite Genevieve Hopkins Bainbridge and links to the 1930 murder of 7-year-old Iris Stafford, rumored to haunt the hotel.

The Golden Gate, written by Yale law professor Amy Chua, is an old-fashioned detective novel rich with California history and real-life figures. The story alternates between Genevieve’s deposition and Sullivan’s first-person narration, weaving in historical nuggets about notable personalities like Margaret Chung, the first Chinese woman physician in the US, and architect Julia Morgan.

Chua effectively combines multiple narratives, creating a detective novel reminiscent of 1940s police procedurals set in San Francisco. While the book offers an engaging plot, the story feels somewhat disjointed at times. Additionally, the depiction of racism and internment camps in the 1940s is disturbing yet thought-provoking.

The Golden Gate is a fascinating read with a strong moral compass and historical depth, earning a solid 4.5 stars.

** Thanks to NetGalley for review copies of the eBook and audiobook. The opinions expressed are my own.




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