The Moving Blade (Detective Hiroshi 2) by Michael Pronko

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The Moving Blade (Detective Hiroshi 2) by Michael Pronko

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: The second book in the Detective Hiroshi series is another cracker: real tension and a scenario which is (unfortunately) only too believable. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 339 Date: September 2018
Publisher: Raked Gravel Press
External links: Author's website

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The funeral is a good time to rob a house in Tokyo - and even better when they're famous as most people will be there. Bernard Mattson had been famous - one of the great political thinkers - and renowned for his support of the American bases in Japan. One of the great tragedies of his murder was that he was just a few days short of meeting up with his daughter Jamie: they hadn't been estranged, but when Mattson and her mother divorced she took the teenager to the USA and father and daughter just drifted apart. Jamie and her mother came back for the funeral, but her mother departed as soon (or even before) she decently could, leaving Jamie to settle her father's affairs. The only problem is that an awful lot of people seem very interested in Bernard Mattson's legacy - and they're prepared to be violent to get their hands on it.

Detective Hiroshi Shimizu hadn't wanted to get involved in the investigation of the murder of the thief who'd visited Mattson's home, but somehow he viewed the body in a Tokyo alleyway. Somehow too he became involved in the search for the thief's murderer and then with Mattson's murder and the attempts on Jamie Mattson's life. The trouble was that for Hiroshi a reluctance to get involved didn't predicate a lack of enthusiasm for the case: he was going to get to the bottom of what was happening no matter what the risks.

We first met Hiroshi in The Last Train. He's mostly recovered from what happened in that case, but now he's sleeping in his office on a fold-out futon, knows that he really could do with a new coat but even though the weather is getting cold he doesn't know where his sweaters are. They might be in storage. What's important to him is Jamie Mattson's safety and this might have been easier to achieve if Jamie hadn't been quite so independent. She's half Japanese, half American and probably not completely at home in either country. Michael Pronko does a superb job of painting a picture of this disconnection, particularly with the USA. In some ways, this is down to the way in which he brings Tokyo and the Japanese lifestyle so brilliantly to life, but there's a fundamental understanding of what it's like to be torn between two cultures.

It's a great plot too. We have a pretty good idea of who the baddies are from fairly early on, so whilst there's an element of the police procedural in the story it's essentially a great, well-constructed thriller, which picks up on the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster of March 2011. It's a scenario which - unfortunately - is only too believable.

You could read The Moving Blade as a standalone, but whilst there are only the mildest of spoilers for the first book in the series you'll get more out of both books if you read them in order. Start with The Last Train.

If you'd like to know more about life in Tokyo Michael Pronko's still your go-to author: have a look at Beauty and Chaos: Slices and Morsels of Tokyo Life and Motions and Moments: More Essays on Tokyo.

Michael Pronko's Detective Hiroshi Novels in Chronological Order

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