This will be a straightforward review, I think, as this really is one of those books where once I describe the premise you’re going to know right away whether you want to read it, and you will very likely be right: The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu is about a Chinese cowboy (I have seen the word “assassin” used to describe him, but that’s not precisely correct, at least the way I define assassin) in the antebellum Old West; the book takes place mostly in Nevada and California, neither of which are states yet. It’s a revenge story; Ming Tsu has some men he needs to kill, who have wronged him, and … honestly, if you feel like you know how the book is going to go from those few sentences, you’re probably right. There’s a slight supernatural turn that you might not expect; Tsu spends most of the book in the company of a prophet who can predict the future along with a handful of other miraculous individuals with unusual abilities, but the supernatural doesn’t really play as strong a role as you might think.
This is not a surprising book, and while it definitely gets some points for originality because of its Chinese main character– not exactly a common thing in Westerns– you’re going to have a pretty good idea how it’s going to go. No, this is a good book not because it’s breaking new ground but because it does what it does really really well, so if you’re the person who thinks you’re going to enjoy a book about a Chinese cowboy on a revenge-based murder spree, you’re not going to do much better than this book.
Not my longest book piece, I know, but sometimes they don’t have to be.