By: Michael Pronko Publisher: Raked Gravel Press Publication Date: August 2018 ISBN: 978-1942410164 Reviewed by: Lynette Latzko Review Date: November 4, 2018
Award-winning author Michael Pronko expertly thrills us once again in his latest mystery installment of the Detective Hiroshi series, The Moving Blade.
Readers hit the ground running, right from the very first chapter, when we are whisked through the streets of Tokyo by a man who has stolen critically important files and is on the run, adeptly moving towards his ultimate destination. Meanwhile, readers are taken inside a Japanese funeral hall where we are witness to the memorial service and cremation of Bernard Mattson, a highly influential and respected American diplomat in Japan, who was murdered in his home. His beautiful daughter from New York, Jamie Mattson, who was recently attempting to rekindle a long lost relationship with her father, is his only living relative and returns to Japan, after decades apart, for his funeral. Unfortunately, instead of the mutually dreamed of happy reunion, Jamie is not only forced to mourn the loss of her father, but she is suddenly thrust into an exceedingly complicated political world left by her father’s lifetime of work and research, involving Japanese and American relations. Jamie is unable to simply and cleanly put her father’s estate in order and quickly return home, because she too becomes the target and prey of the unknown predator who will do anything within their power to get their hands on what is inside Bernard Mattson’s home.
Originally called upon as a translator, detective Hiroshi Shmizu, who is working happily in the safety of his office, and is once again a bit banged up, this time physically from his previous work-related horrifying encounter, is tasked with a new complicated job. Not only must he discover Bernard’s killer, recover missing files, and piece together other recent, possibly related murders, but most importantly, he must protect Jamie, who continues to put herself into harm’s way despite being encouraged to seek immediate safety back in the US. So, together with his coworker, Sakaguchi the ex-sumo wrestler, Hiroshi searches for the answers. They scour the gritty streets and government offices of Tokyo, meeting some interesting characters along the way, while also attempting to overcome the resistance being set up by the officers at a US military base. But will detective Hiroshi be able to navigate the increasingly tangled, political web in time to uncover the answers, and recover the missing files, or will he be too late, and Jamie suffer a similar fate as her father?
The Moving Blade, the author’s sophomore novel, is as strong, engaging and vividly described as was his debut novel, The Last Train. Where the last novel exposed its readers to Tokyo’s nightlife and hostess clubs, this time Pronko skillfully takes readers in a different, but equally compelling direction, towards Tokyo’s political world and its continued involvement with the United States and their agreement to keep a military base stationed on Japanese soil. This subject matter gives readers an abundant amount of food for thought, all while an intense murder mystery is unfolding, and is sure to please from beginning until end. It should be noted though that sometimes this reader became a bit lost in the storyline and was confused with the identity of some of the characters, perhaps because of an unfamiliarity with Japanese surnames, and not necessarily as a consequence of the author having too many characters. However, with that said, readers are enthusiastically encouraged to read The Moving Blade, so get prepared to be immersed in suspense, culture, and political intrigue - you will not be disappointed!
Quill says: Both thriller readers, and fans of the Detective Hiroshi series, will be delighted to read The Moving Blade, as it quickly and adeptly captures readers’ attention right from the beginning and takes them along for a thrilling ride until the very end.