Tokyo-based PI and antiques dealer Jim Brodie, introduced in Japantown (2013), is targeted by a lethal gang for investigating the brutal home-invasion murder of two elderly men and their families.
A one-time fellow soldier of the slain men, feisty 96-year-old Akira Miura is certain the killings were acts of reprisal. In the years before World War II, when Japan occupied China, Miura's company there shot prisoners to "entertain" their superiors. Now, he insists, the deadly Chinese Triad gangs are out to avenge those crimes. It isn't long before Brodie is defending himself, or trying to, against trained attackers with blades and bamboo weapons. Through the underground Chinese contacts provided by his ambitious female police partner, Rie—a romantic attraction who is indignant over his efforts to protect her—he discovers that a mysterious Japanese crime ring is responsible for the killings, not the Triad. The ultrarare paintings of a Japanese monk a London collector has asked him to find may be at the heart of the mystery. And if all of this isn't enough to worry about, Brodie, whose wife was murdered, must also keep his young daughter safe. His enemies are well-aware of her existence. Though the novel gets off to a crisp start, boasting surefire characters including the taciturn, thick-chested chief detective Noda and a notorious crime figure called TNT who owes Brodie favors, things never rise to the level of excitement or surprise of Japantown. The historical material slows things down. The confrontations lack the cool menace of the ones in the first book. And as serviceable as Barbados is for the climax, the particulars of Brodie's concept all but demand a return to San Francisco, the other town in which he operates.
Lancet hits a few bumps the second time around, but his series remains highly distinctive.