Best 1978 Adventures (8)
October 28, 2018
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1978 adventure novels. Happy 40th anniversary!
Ross Thomas’s Arthur Case Wu crime adventure Chinaman’s Chance.
Pelican City, California’s Artie Wu, the novel’s titular “Chinaman,” is an overweight con artist with four kids and what he insists is a legitimate claim on the imperial throne of China; his lifelong best friend and fellow grifter Quincy Durant is a reserved loner with mysterious scars on his back. They’re on the trail of Silk Armitage, a missing folk singer, but they have various side hustles going, too… plus, they want to atone for past errors. Also involved: the CIA, mobsters, a tycoon, corrupt politicos, LA music biz types, and Wu and Durant’s hustler pals Eddie McBride and Otherguy Overby. Silk’s sister, Lace, is a movie star married to the tycoon — who hires Wu and Durant. Silk, it seems, was involved with a local Congressman — whose wife may or may not have killed him, and herself; Silk has been missing ever since. There is a buried-treasure subplot, and international intrigue, among other entertaining diversions; no matter, Wu and Durant are up for anything!
Fun facts: Thomas didn’t begin writing until he was over 40; Chinaman’s Chance is often described as his best effort. Wu and Durant also feature in Out on the Rim (1987) and Voodoo, Ltd. (1992).
JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES (in progress) | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | NOTES ON 21st-CENTURY ADVENTURES.