FIVE BODIES. ONE CLUE. NOT A TRACE OF THE KILLER.
San Francisco antiques dealer Jim Brodie recently inherited a stake in his father’s Tokyo-based private investigation firm, which means the single father of six-year-old Jenny is living a busy intercontinental life, travelling to Japan to acquire art and artefacts for his store and consulting on Brodie Security’s caseload at home and abroad.
One night, an entire family is gunned down in San Francisco’s bustling Japantown neighbourhood, and Brodie is called on by the SFPD to decipher the lone clue left at the crime scene: a unique Japanese character printed on a slip of paper drenched in blood.
Brodie can’t read the clue. But he may have seen it before—at the scene of his wife’s death in a house fire four years ago.
With his deep array of Asian connections and fluency in Japanese, Brodie sets out to solve a seemingly perfect crime and at the same time learn whether his wife’s tragic death was more than just an accident. And as he unravels a web of intrigue stretching back centuries and connected to the murders in San Francisco, the Japantown killer retaliates with a new target: Brodie’s daughter.
Another debut author and another intriguing mystery set in part in present day San Francisco, part New York, part modern Tokyo and part Japanese village.
We open with the execution of a family of five and the placement of an indecipherable Japanese kanji (hieroglyphic) at the scene of the murders. Half-Japanese, half-American antique and art dealer, Jim Brodie gets called in by the police to help decipher the clue. Brodie, a widower is unable to ascribe a meaning to the kanji, but is determined to unlock the puzzle, as it may be connected to his wife’s death a few years previously.
Within a short period of time he is followed and attacked after confronting his pursuer, his stateside business is burgled and he is approached by the Japanese business magnate, whose family were slaughtered in the recent slaying. Katsuyuki Hara wants Brodie’s Tokyo-based PI team to start looking into the slaughter.
Brodie, with the blessing of the SFPD, heads to Japan to try to find answers for Hara, the police and more importantly himself as it may unlock the key to his wife’s death. The killer though, always a step ahead; has Brodie in his sights. In taking him on, he opens a can of worms which ultimately threatens his 6 year-old daughter.
Part murder mystery, part thriller, part history and culture lesson; Lancet introduces us to a modern-day Japan, still in the grip of its historic past.
Murder, family, revenge, betrayal, Japanese art, antiques, kanjis, martial arts, Tokyo, San Francisco, New York, Soga clan, Samurai, village-life, loyalty, business, corruption, technology, murder and greed all play a part in this enjoyable tale.
Satisfying, entertaining and a little bit different from what I’m used to reading. Quite unlike anything I have read for a few years, perhaps in the same ballpark as Barry Eisler’s John Rain, with their shared ethnicity and same likeability, durability and capability. I don’t feel like I need to visit Japan, because Barry Lancet’s already taken me there.
4 from 5
|Author Barry Lancet (photo by Ben Simmons)|
Thanks to Glen (Tracy’s friendly other half!) for alerting me to this mystery and thanks to Barry Lancet the author for arranging for his publisher to send me a copy.