SPEED TRIBES

DAYS AND NIGHTS WITH JAPAN'S NEXT GENERATION

Delving into sordid and ruthless lives at the bottom of Japan Inc.'s social ladder, this whirlwind odyssey in search of Japan's current under-25 generation is a mixed bag. Undoubtedly, freelance journalist Greenfeld has unearthed some fabulously riveting material. Take, for example, his chapter on Choco Bon Bon and Emi, a pair of porn stars brought together by a wily entrepreneur called Shoji Onizawa. Choco is one of Japan's top male porn celebrities, named for his chocolate-hued testicles. We see him smoking shabu, or crystal meth, in a hotel room while Onizawa frantically tries to find exactly the right female lead—an innocent who will be penetrated anally for the first time on film. The result is hilarious and grim. The film gets made, Onizawa makes his buck, and Emi, having been paid several million yen and a diamond ring, joins the ranks of the porn elite. Several of the chapters inevitably deal with the Yakuza (organized crime), and with the bosozuku, or motorcycle gangs. One chapter—an enthralling portrait of working-class delinquency, ambition, and violence- -portrays Tats, a chimpara, or little prick, the lowest rank in the gangster hierarchy. Elsewhere, Greenfeld deals with such topics as hostessu (foreign bar hostesses), students at the elite Tokyo University housed in Third Worldlevel barracks, the youth drug culture, right-wing militants, and Tokyo call girls. Overall, it's a tense and spicy read, sprinkled with delicious details and gossip. But Greenfield tries to be both hard-bitten and hip, with sometimes numbing attention to modish detail, and occasionally his tale is dragged down by heavy-handed writing. Both this book and the Japanese kids it so carefully describes bring to mind Dali's comment to a youthful painter: ``Don't try so hard to be contemporary. Alas for you, it's the one thing you'll be whether you like it or not.'' (Author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-06-017309-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1994

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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THE MIDNIGHT CLUB

Patterson's thrillers (Virgin, 1980; Black Market, 1986) have plummeted in quality since his promising debut in The Thomas Berryman Number (1976)—with this latest being the sorriest yet: a clanky and witless policer about a criminal mastermind and the cop sworn to take him down. Aside from watching sympathetic homicide dick John ("Stef") Stefanovich comeing to terms with a wheelchair-bound life—legacy of a shotgun blast to the back by drug-and-gun-running archfiend Alexandre St.-Germain—the major interest here lies in marvelling at the author's trashing of fiction convention. The whopper comes early: although St.-Germain is explicity described as being machine-gunned to death by three vigilante cops in a swank brothel (". . .a submachine gun blast nearly ripped off the head of Alexandre St.-Germain"; "The mobster's head and most of his neck had been savaged by the machine-gun volley. The body looked desecrated. . ."), before you know it this latter-day Moriarty is stepping unscathed out of an airplane. What gives? Authorial cheating, that's what—thinly glossed over with some mumbling later on about a "body double." Not that St.-Germain's ersatz death generated much suspense anyway, with subsequent action focusing on, among other items, the gory killings of assorted mob bosses by one of the vigilante cops, and Stef's viewing of pornographic tapes confiscated from that brothel. But readers generous enough to plod on will get to read about the newly Lazarus-ized St.-Germain's crass efforts to revitalize and consolidate the world's crime syndicates ("the Midnight Club"), Stef's predictable tumble for a sexy true-crime writer, and how (isn't one miracle enough for Patterson?) at book's end Stef walks again and gets to embrace a rogue cop who's murdered several people. Ironsides with a badge and a lobotomy.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 1988

ISBN: 0446676411

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1988

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