Minotaur Books, $25.99, 417 pages, ISBN 978-1-250-11048-0
Every now and then, a forthcoming book generates so much pre-publication interest that the MBR wants to get a look at it at the earliest possible date. If an ARC, or Advance Readers (i.e. Reviewers) Copy isn’t readily available, we can sometimes spend some extra money and get a true first edition from the British, who are often the leaders of the publishing world. Such is the case this week with MBR 285 . . . a debut author of awesome talent with a mind-bending first novel that has folks on both sides of the Atlantic sitting up and taking notice. And, we’re happy to report that it’s just been brought out in an American edition, which is referenced here. If you’re a fan of intense, complex and convoluted novels that require concentration and focus, you don’t want to miss this one. It’s gonna be a monster!
Blue Light Yokohama, by Nicolas Obregon, takes place in Tokyo, Japan. It’s where we meet Inspector Kosuke Iwata. He’s a man who’s hauling around a boatload of grief. After a mysterious, unexplained and lengthy leave of absence, the brilliant detective with a dark past is transferred into Division One: the Tokyo Homicide Department. There, he’s met with open hostility from the rank-and file cops and given a partner—Assistant Inspector Sakai, whose beauty and refusal to be broken by the constant harassment from her male counterparts mark her as an outcast and troublemaker—then tasked with a second-hand serial murder case so disturbing that the first detective on it committed suicide. It starts with the discovery of the ritualistic slaying of an entire family; mother, two small children and the father are murdered by a vicious killer who stabs the victims, removes the man’s heart, then dawdles at the scene: eating ice cream and surfing the internet for hours on the family’s computer before painting a mysterious black sun symbol on the ceiling and nonchalantly leaving the house in broad daylight. The only clues at the scene are the drawing and the faint scent of a rare incense. As Iwata and Sakai begin re-examining the case however, a second and third of the gruesome ritualistic murders are carried out . . . . on apparently unrelated victims. Faced with ever-increasing resistance from fellow officers and mounting pressure from the police brass, Iwata suspects corruption within the department and collusion with the Yakuza . . . Japanese organized crime. As the plot unfolds, the press gets involved, clamoring for answers to the rumors of cults and fetishism, serial killers and incompetent detectives. It appears as if Iwata will be hounded out of his job at the same time as his personal demons catch up and drive him out of his mind.
Kosuke Iwata is without a doubt one of the most complex, interesting and fascinating literary detectives to come along since Sherlock Holmes. We can only hope he’ll have just as long a romp through the pages of crime fiction in the twenty-first century as Sherlock did in the twentieth. Mr. Obregon’s Inspector Iwata is destined to be a colossus! He’s more than lived up to his pre-launch publicity, and you’ll be proud to have him on your bookshelf . . .