30 October 2019

The Moving Blade

Photo of the book cover of The Moving Blade by Michael Pronko

By Michael Pronko

Paperback 320 pages
Publisher Raked Gravel Press (30th Aug 2018)

"The action-packed plot makes for a story that is not just a dramatic whodunit piece, but a slice of life piece inspecting Japanese heart and minds... insights and flare that keep the story fast-paced and informative all in one." Midwest Book Review

📕My Review

In the second book of this highly enjoyable series set in Japan, Detective Hiroshi Shimizu investigates the murder of Tokyo-based American diplomat Bernard Mattson. Missing from Mattson's home are the manuscript of a book he was going to publish, piles of research and the transcript of an important speech he'd been due to give.

Returning from America for the funeral, Mattson's daughter Jamie is determined to recover her father's stolen work to ensure its public recognition. But by doing so, she places her own life in jeopardy.

If you want a slice of Japan without leaving your own armchair, Michael Pronko is the go-to author. Having lived and worked in Japan for many years, his cultural and historical knowledge is second to none. You really can't fail to be impressed.

As with Pronko's first book in this series, The Moving Blade is equally well-written and fast-paced. Familiar characters are reintroduced and old friendships rekindled. With respect to character development, it resumes nicely from where the previous book finished. I found it exceptionally insightful and absorbing.

My thanks to Michael Pronko for providing a review copy and my sincere apologies for taking much longer than anticipated to get to it.   

Book Source: Review copy from the author
Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Other reviews:
The Last Train

📗The Blurb

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.

📘The Author

Michael Pronko has lived in Tokyo for twenty years, but was born in Kansas City, a very different world. After graduating from Brown University in philosophy, he hit the road, traveling around the world for two years working odd jobs. He went back to school for a Master's in Education, and then took a teaching position in Beijing. For two years, he taught English, traveled China and wrote.

Photo of author Michael Pronko
After more traveling and two more degrees, another M.A. in Comparative Literature in Madison, Wisconsin and a PhD in English at the University of Kent at Canterbury, he finally settled in Tokyo as a professor of American Literature at Meiji Gakuin University.

Pronko has published three award-winning collections of essays: Motions and Moments: More Essays on Tokyo (Raked Gravel Press 2015), Tokyo's Mystery Deepens (Raked Gravel Press 2014), and Beauty and Chaos: Essays on Tokyo (Raked Gravel Press 2014).

He has published books in Japanese and two textbooks in both English and Japanese. 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 (jazzinjapan.com).

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