Amy Chua's debut novel, The Golden Gate, is a sweeping, evocative, and compelling historical thriller that paints a vibrant portrait of a California buffeted by the turbulent crosswinds of a world at war and a society about to undergo massive change.
In Berkeley, California, in 1944, Homicide Detective Al Sullivan has just left the swanky Claremont Hotel after a drink in the bar when a presidential candidate is assassinated in one of the rooms upstairs. A rich industrialist with enemies among the anarchist factions on the far left, Walter Wilkinson could have been targeted by any number of groups. But strangely, Sullivan’s investigation brings up the specter of another tragedy at the Claremont, ten years earlier: the death of seven-year-old Iris Stafford, a member of the Bainbridge family, one of the wealthiest in all of San Francisco. Some say she haunts the Claremont still.
The many threads of the case keep leading Sullivan back to the three remaining Bainbridge heiresses, now adults: Iris’s sister, Isabella, and her cousins Cassie and Nicole. Determined not to let anything distract him from the truth—not the powerful influence of Bainbridges’ grandmother, or the political aspirations of Berkeley’s district attorney, or the interest of China's First Lady Madame Chiang Kai-Shek in his findings—Sullivan follows his investigation to its devastating conclusion.
Chua’s page-turning debut brings to life a historical era rife with turbulent social forces and groundbreaking forensic advances, when race and class defined the very essence of power, sex, and justice, and introduces a fascinating character in Detective Sullivan, a mixed race former Army officer who is still reckoning with his own history.
“A rich and satisfying stew.” –Seattle Times
"Historical details of San Francisco and California are weaved throughout the plot, enhancing the action…The Golden Gate is written as a vintage mystery that echoes Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler with a more modern sense of character development and action.” –South Florida Sun Sentinel
"The many threads of the plot as well as the author's concerns about race, class, and other matters come together in the cleverly imagined character and voice of her detective. Satisfyingly twisty, highly educational, and lots of fun.” –Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A successful, compelling mash-up of California history, ghost story, family tale, and social commentary.” –Library Journal (starred review)
"A riveting mystery. . . Chua skillfully creates tension around Sullivan’s complex investigation, tempting red herrings, and thoughtful examination of war-time social divisions." –Booklist (starred review)
"Thrilling. . . mind bending . . . a richly satisfying historical mystery that draws on its setting for more than mere atmosphere." –Publishers Weekly
“A well-plotted and clever whodunit.” –Shelf Awareness
"Readers will be both entertained and enriched." –BookPage
“This saga—the story has as many twisting corridors as the hotel—allows Chua to dig deep into the privileges and invisible barriers at work in any haves-and-have-nots meeting, with memorable results.” –First Clue
“A riveting story which weaves bits and pieces of California history with a compelling plot and an intriguing lead character.” –Mystery Tribune
“This is a fine historical mystery in a picturesque setting.” –Mystery & Suspense
“An epic, devastating, majestic mystery. The Golden Gate is clever, richly imagined and outright thrilling.” –Chris Whitaker
"All the elements I love in a mystery: A tough-guy homicide detective, an entrancing femme fatale, family secrets, a fabulous building in a beautiful city in a great time period, a touch of Agatha Christie, and a soupcon of Dashiell Hammett. And Amy Chua’s terrific writing provides the icing." —Lisa See
"A tough guy with room for gentleness… Detective Al Sullivan and his crew are a joy, introducing us to a Bay Area that is both intimately familiar and surprisingly new.” —Laurie R. King