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12 October 2014

Barry Lancet: Tokyo Kill

Exciting and different cross-cultural thriller
This is the second in Barry Lancet's series featuring Jim Brodie, born in Japan to American parents who went to Japanese schools and integrated the Japanese society as well as any Gaijin (foreigner) is allowed. He has a great expertise in Japanese culture, history, and martial arts and shares his time as a dealer in Japanese art and antiques in San Francisco with running his late father's Tokyo-based private investigation firm.

Brodie is in Tokyo when Yoji Miura, the son of a Japanese WWII veteran, asks Brodie's firm to investigate the killing of some of his father's military colleagues. His father, Akira, now in his 80's, believes that the killings are linked to his service in China during the war when, under orders, he had kept control over a large area of China through terror. He believes that the Chinese Triads are following up on a threat made during the war that they would avenge his actions.

The action ramps up when Yoji is battered to death the next day and his body dismembered in a way that suggests that the Triads are behind the killings. Lancet then takes us on a complex and thrilling chase to find the killers and the motive. This involves Brodie with Japanese gangsters, Chinese spies, and various groups skilled in martial arts. Always lurking in the background is lost Chinese art and antiquities and legendary Samurai swords capable of killing with one blow. The body count grows and again Brodie has to use his martial arts skills to keep alive.

Brodie's Japanese wife was killed in a house fire several years ago and he is bringing up a precocious seven year old daughter on his own in both American and Japanese cultures. This time we see a tentative personal relationship developing with Rie Hoshino. one of Tokyo's few policewomen. It will be interesting to follow this cross-cultural relationship in future books.

I was especially interested in this book because I lived in Tokyo for a couple of years in the 1980's and got a Gaijin's view of the Japanese people and society. Many of Lancet's insightful observations of Japanese life and even many of the places in Tokyo mentioned in the book were very familiar to me.

Lancet's second book is better than his first, JAPANTOWN, because it has more believable villains and action and doesn't have such an overblown major conspiracy background. Once again Lancet shows us how his own background of living in Japan for many years (which parallels Brodie's) gives us an almost unique entry into the mysteries of Japanese life and culture. It certainly was a thrilling page-turner and I will be looking forward to more books in this interesting and exciting series.

My thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for a copy of this book for review.

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