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Danger lurks in the well-lit corners of Tokyo’s immaculately clean streets, and it takes a teen-mag journalist to unravel the mysteries of this inscrutable world.

Billy Chaka is reporter for the Cleveland-based Asian rock magazine Youth in Asia (the sister publication of the e-zine Generasia X), and he knows Japan inside and out, having established a reputation for himself there as “the hard-boiled laureate of the literate teen.” He was even made the subject of an action film (Wildman for Geisha!) in which he rescues a young woman from the clutches of the Tokyo mob. Billy hated the film so much that he assaulted its director, and, as a result, his editor sent him off to Hokkaido on a mandatory “vacation.” He doesn’t get much rest: Shortly after his arrival at the Hotel Kitty (each room complete with its own cat), the night porter dies in his arms—only minutes before Billy’s editor calls to tell him that Yoshi, the lead singer of Japan’s most popular group Saint Arrow, has overdosed in a Tokyo love hotel. The chase is on! Back in Tokyo, Billy looks up his old friend Olga (a Swedish stripper at the Purloined Kitten Club who knew Yoshi) and tries to get the inside story on Yoshi’s final days. He also hooks up with the brass at Seppuku Records (Yoshi’s label), who try to commission him to write a biography of the band. But this turns out to be more than your garden-variety Hendrix-style overdose. For one thing, several of the Seppuku directors have ties to the Tokyo mafia. For another, Billy begins to suspect some connection between Yoshi’s death and that of the night porter in the Hotel Kitty. By the time several more corpses (“popsicles”) are discovered in Hokkaido, Billy knows all is not well. The question is whether he can get to the bottom of things in time.

Somewhat too cute for comfort, but, still, a good tale with a nice slant on geography and the pop scene.

Pub Date: April 16th, 2002
ISBN: 0-380-81292-4
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2002


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