This social backdrop provides fertile ground for character development ... in spite of the beat-by-beat narration, the book keeps its action moving. When not focused on clearing his name, Jing-nan tries to navigate the murky waters between his girlfriend and her estranged mother. As the book turns toward discovering and catching the actual murderer, the character work pays off, and the fun intensifies ... a mystery novel that balances growth and intrigue with an exploration of a busy city that sees everything.
If there’s something oblique about Boxer as a point of entry — as in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, it lets us sidle into the main narrative ... Together, their backstories weave a tapestry that also frames the cultural and political landscape: the crime novel as social novel again ... All of this comes into focus after Jing-nan and Nancy decide to volunteer at 'an assisted-living facility … serving aboriginal people' — which not only helps them resolve the mystery but also highlights the divisions that define contemporary Taipei ... Lin is nuanced with these details ... This sort of conditionality motivates a lot of crime fiction, although mostly on existential terms. What differentiates Death Doesn’t Forget is its sense not of despair but of equanimity. The future is unwritten, in other words; it must be lived to be revealed. Even as the novel reaches its conclusion, Lin leaves open a number of questions about what will happen, what the characters will choose. In part, this is a convention of the series, since everyone must live to animate another book. But that’s too reductive for what Lin has done here, which is to write a crime novel as a slice of life.
More than action thrillers, Lin’s delightful Taipei Night Market novels are stories of character and place ... The resolution of Lin’s series fourth pushes the bounds of believability but has a rousing finale ... Once again, it’s hellzapoppin’ time in Taipei. If readers haven’t tried Lin’s stylish mysteries, here’s a good place to start.
Life itself is often perplexing for the varied cast of this inventively humanistic work, one with welcome instances of love, religious questioning (through a variety of faiths) and one terrifically effective episode of magical surrealism.
After these twists, the identification of the killer comes as less of a surprise; what lingers in the memory, as always in the Taipei Night Market novels, is the flavorsome portrait of the city, this time with particular and highly effective attention to its Aboriginal Australian population ... Maybe not better than a trip to Taipei but more likely in these troubled times.
... intriguing ... Lin ups the ante on his lead with a second murder, and once again he brings to life the sights and smells of the night market where Jing-nan works. Fans of recognizably human amateur sleuths will be pleased.