When the top American diplomat in Tokyo, Bernard Mattson, is killed, he leaves more than a lifetime of successful Japan-American negotiations. He leaves a missing manuscript, boxes of research, a lost keynote speech and a tangled web of relations.
When his alluring daughter, Jamie, returns from America wanting answers, finding only threats, Detective Hiroshi Shimizu is dragged from the safe confines of his office into the street-level realities of Pacific Rim politics.
With help from ex-sumo wrestler Sakaguchi, Hiroshi searches for the killer from Tokyo’s back alley bars to government offices, through anti-nuke protests to the gates of an American naval base. When two more bodies turn up, Hiroshi must choose between desire and duty, violence or procedure, before the killer silences his next victim.
|Publisher:||Raked Gravel Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.67(d)|
About the Author
After more traveling, another M.A. in Comparative Literature in UW Madison, and a PhD in English and film in University of Kent, he settled in Tokyo as a professor of American Literature at Meiji Gakuin University. His seminars focus on contemporary novels and film adaptations, with other classes in American indie film and American music and art.
Over the years in Tokyo, he has written regular columns for many publications: The Japan Times, Newsweek Japan, Jazznin, ST Shukan, Jazz Colo[u]rs, and Artscape Japan. He runs his own website Jazz in Japan. He also continues to publish academic articles and helps run the Liberlit Conference on teaching literature.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Thrillers come in stacks upon stacks and very few seem all that noteworthy, but Michael Pronko, author of The Moving Blade, wants to stand out and he manages to succeed. The second part of a series, following the engaging The Last Train, the reader continues to follow Detective Hiroshi Shimizu as he is swept up in a Pacific region in turmoil after the US diplomat to Japan is murdered. The daughter of the diplomat, Jamie Mattson looks up Hiroshi and drags him from his office into the thick of a huge mystery. When the body count starts to rise, it will be up to him and his new friend, ex-sumo wrestler Sakaguchi to solve this before another body joins the rest. Pronko is clearly well traveled by how authentically he paints the scenes in both Tokyo and beyond. The politics are real and frustrating and keep the story grounded in the realities of culture that fill this work to the brim. The mystery is thick and keeps the reader teased throughout, so many pages were turned eagerly to finish and find out what happened. The prose is relatively tight and keeps the action moving. The plot itself is complex as any political thriller even if the dwelling on some of these externals can be a bit much for a reader. Hiroshi himself is a fun character to follow and seems to grow somewhat from the previous book as well, which shows Pronko’s attention to character. As a detective, Hiroshi checks all the boxes and Jamie also somewhat fits the female fatale as well, so Pronko isn’t reinventing the wheel with this series, but chooses to give us a new setting and feel for the typical political thriller. There are even bits of noir here and there that some readers may pick up from older, more classic mystreries, but Pronko regrettably does a good job covering these bits with international politics and other plot clutter. The Moving Blade is a fun, complex mystery that will surely please any reader who enjoys such works. Pronko is a competent writer and if he continues to develop Hiroshi as such, then he should have a character to rival Hemmet or Harry Dresden in the genre of mystery.
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (08/18) “The Moving Blade” is an intriguing murder mystery and the second book in the Detective Hiroshi series by Michael Pronko. Jamie Mattson planned a reunion with her father Bernard Mattson in Japan, where he was an American diplomat. Plans go awry after he is murdered, and she finds herself taking care of his funeral arrangements and handling his estate instead of the reunion. Her father’s home was also broken into and another murder has occurred which appears to be related. Jamie soon discovers that she is also a target. Her predators are obviously seeking her father’s research, a missing manuscript and a key note speech that is expected to have a huge impact on Japanese decisions regarding American military bases on their land. Detective Hiroshi Shimizu takes on this case and soon discovers how deeply the murders are entrenched in politics. He has to carefully route his search for information around high level people in Japan and the people at the US military base who aren’t being too helpful. Trying to help Jamie, a very independent woman, stay alive adds to his challenges. I really enjoyed reading “The Moving Blade.” Set in Japan, the added elements of Japanese culture, traditions and politics really make this story unique. Descriptive details of the martial arts in Japan included both the techniques used and descriptions of the weaponry. The characters are very realistic and have depth. Michael Pronko does an excellent job of taking us inside the protagonists’ minds so that we can understand them better, even if we don’t always agree with their choices. Pronko brought this story to life so much that I found myself hoping that none of the negative aspects could possibly be true. Having passed through Japan on my way to Okinawa, I had a brief chance to see this country. Reading “The Moving Blade” brought Japan back to life for me and also made me think about things that I hadn’t considered before, such as how our American military presence is viewed over there. The novel also gave me a reminder of how much of an impact their nuclear disaster has greatly affected lives on the Pacific Rim. I highly recommend “The Moving Blade” by Michael Pronko for people who enjoy intrigue and suspense.
thriller, law-enforcement, international-crime-and-mystery, PTSD, Japan, cultural-exploration, theft, murder A fascinating look at the differences and similarities of cops and the countries/populations they serve. Homicide Det. Hiroshi in Tokyo has hidden himself away in his office as he remains unable to deal with the problems begun a year ago when he very nearly died on a case that caused many problems for the men in his department. Now he's forced into a very messy case involving diplomats, people murdered horribly with ritual blades, the Americans, and multiple thefts of sensitive materials. All this and the diplomat's beautiful Japanese American daughter from New York. A very compelling mystery thriller! I requested and received a free ebook copy from Raked Gravel Press via NetGalley. Thank you!
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!