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Reviewed by Ray Simmons for Readers' Favorite
The Last Panda: Promise to a Dead Man is part two in the Isaac Smith Mystery series. There’s a lot of action and some very unusual characters. Believe it or not, it involves a complicated plot by the Chinese government which centers around the world’s most famous and adorable species of bear. I was especially attracted to the locals in The Last Panda. I lived in the Bay Area many years ago so in many ways reading Promise to a Dead Man was like taking a trip back there. L.Z. Smith builds this mystery step by step. The story pivots back and forth from the Bay Area to China as Smith paints a picture while the mystery and suspense slowly come to the boil.
With the NSA, the FBI, the CIA, Chinese gangs, and Chinese spies, The Last Panda could easily have exploded into an espionage thriller, but Smith is a master of steady pacing and lets the mystery unfold. Isaac Smith is the protagonist of this book and he is a quirky character surrounded by other quirky characters, which makes for some fun, interesting reading. I really liked the wide range of characters in Isaac’s life. The love of his life is Chinese, but he has an ex-hooker ex-girlfriend who is still close to him. At one point, he’s living on a yacht with a sexy real estate agent. Needless to say, Isaac gets around. All in all, The Last Panda: Promise to a Dead Man was a very entertaining and informative read.