“Delightfully weird ... A splendid romp, an offbeat adventure with wacky characters, oddball dialogue, plenty of laughs, and style to spare.”
Like its predecessors, this third Billy Chaka crime novel (after Hokkaido Popsicle) is an exuberant mix of urban noir and anime-style action, salted with cheeky humor. Billy Chaka is an American journalist based in Cleveland who writes for a magazine called Youth in Asia (pun intentional). His new assignment is to travel to Tokyo and interview a has-been rock singer, Gombei Fukagawa, for a "Where Are They Now?" piece. Fukagawa is a pachinko (Japanese pinball) addict, and while Chaka is interviewing him at the Lucky Benten pachinko parlor, a young woman nearby suffers a seizure. Chaka calls for an ambulance and leaves his name, which sets off a series of events that range from mysterious to surreal to deadly. Over the next few days, Chaka is like a ball in a pachinko machine: tossed about Tokyo, in and out of life-threatening situations, constantly on the move and never knowing what will happen next. Miyuki, the girl who suffered the seizure, turns up dead. Her true identity and her relationship to a wealthy businessman, an underground bookseller and other intriguing characters become the focus of the story, which also involves a priceless objet d'art dating back to the American bombings of Tokyo near the end of WWII. Chaka flashes his trademark deadpan, Chandleresque wit ("she was calendar material, the type that made you wish there were 15 months in a year") and suffers a constant barrage of inventive physical injuries at the hands of both friends and enemies. Adamson sticks close to the hybrid formula he has perfected; his fans will find this a familiar but welcome addition to his oeuvre. 3-city author tour. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Reporter Billy Chaka returns for an entertaining third case. How durable the Chandler-Hammett hard-boiled formula. Here, Adamson (Hokkaido Popsicle, 2002, etc.) trots out its elements-a missing daughter, guilty secrets, mean city streets-and comes up with a fresh case. Chaka visits Tokyo to write a "where are they now?" piece on Gombei Fukagawa, who was Lime in the failed duo Lemon Lime. As Fukagawa plays pachinko, a variation of pinball, Chaka is mesmerized by a woman across the hall. The woman abruptly suffers a seizure, and medics cart her off. Later that night, a driver arrives to escort Chaka to the home of a Mr. Nakoda, who claims he's the father of the afflicted woman: Miyuki. His relationship with her was difficult, Nakoda says, and he's now fearful that she may be in danger. Watching the news that night, Chaka sees police pull the lifeless body of a woman from a canal: it's Miyuki. No fool, yet no hard-bitten Spade or Marlow, the flippant and ironic Chaka trails the non sequiturs, dead ends, and deceptions that follow as he uncovers what led to Miyuki's death: he's certain it wasn't suicide. Seldom as tangled as the streets on which it plays out, the ensuing case engages nonetheless. Chaka teams with Miyuki's loopy friend Afuro, who takes him to the "hostess" parlor where Miyuki worked. Miyuki, it turns out, was Nakoda's mistress, not his daughter. And Nakoda, it appears, was linked to something dark that took place at a centuries-old temple that survived the Allied bombings at the end of WWII. Chaka turns to a Professor Kujima, who spins a good yarn about the temple's history, after which Chaka focuses on a statue stolen from the temple-the stuff this diverting daydream is madeof. Noir light: charming, funny, satisfying.