Mysterious Book Report No. 249
by John Dwaine McKenna
With a renewed focus on Asia of late, it seems as though there’s news and happenings on an hourly basis from the region. China, North and South Korea, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Burma, Taiwan, Tibet . . . and of course Japan, have all featured in the news recently . . . and why not? The majority of the world’s population lives there, so it’s vitally important for the rest of the world to know, and pay attention to, what’s happening there, and acquire an understanding of their history and culture as well.
And hey . . . don’t get in an uproar with your hair on fire . . . we’re not gonna recommend a ten-thousand page Toynbee-type examination of the rise and fall of the Asian empires–this is about fun stuff like murder, and mayhem, and reckoning whodunnit. Along the way, we’ll pick up a smattering of the art, culture and societal norms of modern-day Japan from a thriller writer with a firm grasp of eastern and western society.
Pacific Burn, (Simon & Schuster, $25.00, 356 pages, ISBN 978-1-4767-9488-4) by Barry Lancet is the third installment in his astounding and amazingly good, award-winning series of thrillers featuring Jim Brodie. He’s a bilingual San Francisco art and antiques dealer, specializing in Japanese artifacts. But Brodie’s more than just a fine arts merchant. Much more. He’s inherited a Tokyo-based, world-class detective agency from his estranged-and-deceased father, an on-call consultant for the SFPD, a martial arts expert, a widower and the single father of a six year old daughter.
As Pacific Burn opens, Brodie is called out by Lieutenant Renna of the SFPD Homicide unit to a death scene up in Napa, the heart of California wine country, where a small boy who speaks no English has been keeping an all night vigil alongside the body of an adult male. The Napa Sheriff’s Department is ready to write it off as an accident at first, but the dead man turns out to be the eldest son of Brodie’s friend and renowned Japanese artist Ken Nobuki, the very same man Brodie asked to be the featured artist for the Pacific Rim Friendship Program between Japan and the city of San Francisco. The boy, who’s almost catatonic with fear, is his grandson. A week later, Nobuki himself is shot and critically wounded as he and Brodie exit City Hall. With his client in a coma and near death, Brodie races to save the rest of the family, from an unknown, and deadly enemy as he hunts for a legendary killer. The professional murderer–even if he exists is an elusive, mythical slayer whose reputation is powerful enough to frighten a hardened Yakuza assassin. The non-stop chase begins in northern California, goes to Japan then back to Washington D.C. as the hunt puts Brodie into ever increasing danger of losing his life. As with all of Mr. Lancet’s books, interesting factual tid-bits about Japanese history, culture, art and society are sprinkled throughout this fascinating, fast-paced and excellent novel. A great summer read, you won’t be able to put it down after reading the first page!