Eight people had already died by the time Akira Miura showed up at our door fearing for his life.
With as dramatic an opening as the first in the series, Japantown, Lancet is establishing a pattern of grabbing the reader’s attention in the opening sentence.
Miura is a 96 year old former officer in the Japanese Imperial Army. He wants Brodie Security to protect himself and the two living members of his WW II unit. There have been two recent home invasions in Tokyo where 8 people were killed. Miura says a member of his unit was killed in each home invasion. He is sure Chinese triads committed the brutal slayings. Tokyo police have dismissed his concerns as:
“They insisted the killings couldn’t possibly be motivated
by ‘ancient history.’ “
Miura remains convinced that the home invasion murders are revenge for the actions of the Japanese army in Manchuria during WW II where he was stationed. While he tried to treat the Chinese appropriately he said:
“Whenever higher-ups came through they expected to be entertained. They invariably ordered us to ‘weed out traitors’ and ‘set up inspections.’ The first consisted of lining up any villagers in jail for target practice. The second involved examining local beauties in private. These were orders we couldn’t refuse or they’d –“
“- put a bullet in your head.”
Miura’s shoulders sagged under an old guilt. “Without a second thought.”
Miura and fellow soldiers tried to make amends after the war but not all were willing to forgive.
At the same time Brodie, who also is an art dealer, hears a rumour floating around London that a rare and valuable ink painting by a Japanese monk, Sengai, with a beautifully done inscription has come on the art market. Its provenance murky.
Brodie Security accepts the assignment to protect Miura.
That night Brodie is summoned by the Tokyo police to the site of a gruesome murder. The victim has been hacked to death. His right arm and teeth are also missing. Brodie is shaken when he learns the identity of the victim.
Driven to find out what has happened Brodie delves into the murky underworld of the Chinese community residing at Yokohama. There has long been a Chinese enclave in the city.
Were the triads the killers? They have been avoiding attacks on Japanese people to prevent aggressive police pressure. Would they risk a massive police investigation for revenge almost seven decades after the war? If not the triads, who would wreak such bloody vengeance?
Most of the book takes place in Japan. I wish more had taken place in America.
A greater regret is that Brodie as art dealer has a minor presence in the plot.
I enjoyed the book but not as much as Japantown. There is a high body count. While I did not find the number of killings as distracting as some other books I found the investigation more premised on brawn than brains. Brodie is a bright and clever man. I wish his intelligence, rather than martial arts skills, had been allowed to play a greater role. I would have appreciated more insights into Japan and its people like:
The Japanese prefer to bury their shame rather than face it. Some of the younger generation were adopting a more open attitude, but the older generation still preferred deep-sixing a problem, mistake or not, and bearing theguily. To them this was heroic. It epitomized the traditional spirit of gaman – forbearance. Made them feel admirable. Like martyrs. But to people caught in the middle – like Miura – holding their tongues led to a slow acidic burn of the soul.
I hope the series is not drifting towards conventional thrillers.