A voyeur’s tour of consumption-crazed Tokyo is the real point here, with Rei-san, as always, a companionable guide.

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GIRL IN A BOX

Shopaholic spy infiltrates a suspiciously successful Tokyo department store.

Japanese/Californian dilettante sleuth Rei Shimura (The Typhoon Lover, 2005, etc.) can’t understand why her boss, Michael Hendricks, of the ultra-secret Organization for Cultural Intelligence, thinks a retail balance sheet should interest the U.S. government. Seems that Warren Kravitz, senior partner of Winston Brothers, an American investment bank, has complained that glitzy Tokyo emporium Mitsutan’s disproportionate profits suggest stock-price manipulation, possibly intended to attract a takeover by U.S. giant Supermart. So why should Rei quibble with a mission that would take her back to her beloved Japan to execute an undercover job as a Mitsutan salesclerk, complete with employee discount and an OCI shopping allowance? Well, the job is not as cushy as it sounds. Rei’s predecessor, agent Tyler, wound up dead. Assigned to K Team, Mitsutan’s personal shopping corps for foreign customers, Rei is undermined at every turn by half-Korean co-worker Miyo, until Rei figures out the key to securing Miyo’s friendship: hooking her up with a wealthy gaijin, preferably American. Rei crashes a company retreat at a hot spring and, after being harassed by four senior executives, manages to bug their shoes. She records the chairman threatening someone before an exec turns up dead. Fearing Rei’s in too deep, Michael flies to Tokyo in time to debug her navel ring. Then Rei, only temporarily deterred by a maxed-out credit card, and Miyo shop until they’re adequately outfitted to troll the clubs for eligible rich guys. They meet Archie and Ravi, two junior Winston Brothers traders. Ravi worries that Winston is accepting yakuza cash for laundering, and Rei unwisely urges him to blow the whistle. When thugs stage a reception at Rei’s apartment building and Ravi leaps from a window to his death, Rei must go into hiding at a luxe Tokyo hotel. A comparison of her shopping receipts and Mitsutan’s sales records exposes the nature of the store’s skullduggery; not what Michael and Warren suspected, but—no surprise—worse.

A voyeur’s tour of consumption-crazed Tokyo is the real point here, with Rei-san, as always, a companionable guide.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-076514-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2006

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Inside this bloated novel is a lean thriller starring a strong and damaged protagonist who's as compelling as Lisbeth...

THE THIRD TO DIE

In Brennan’s (Nothing To Hide, 2019, etc.) new series launch, a hard-edged female LAPD undercover cop and an ambitious FBI special agent race to catch a serial killer before he strikes again.

On paid administrative leave since an incident with a suspect went wrong, a restless Detective Kara Quinn is on an early morning run in her hometown of Liberty Lake, Washington, when she discovers the flayed corpse of a young nurse. In D.C., FBI Special Agent in Charge Mathias Costa is staffing the new Mobile Response Team, designed to cover rural areas underserved by law enforcement, when his boss assigns Matt and analyst Ryder Kim to Liberty Lake. The notorious Triple Killer, who murders three random victims, three days apart, every three years, has returned. With only six days to identify and catch the culprit, and only three days until he kills again, the team is “on a very tight clock.” What should be on-the-edge-of-your-seat suspense turns into a slog marred by pedestrian prose (“she heard nothing except birds chirping…”), a convoluted plot slowed down by a focus on dull bureaucratic infighting, and flat character development. The sole exception is the vividly drawn Kara. Smart, angry, defensive, complicated, she fascinates both the reader and Matt ("Kara Quinn was different—and he couldn’t put his finger on why”).

Inside this bloated novel is a lean thriller starring a strong and damaged protagonist who's as compelling as Lisbeth Salander.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7783-0944-4

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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Sluggish plot hemmed in by too much backstory and going-through-the-motions prose. Not Brown’s best.

WHITE HOT

Lukewarm thriller from bestselling Brown (Hello, Darkness, 2003, etc.).

Sayre Hoyle doesn’t believe her brother Danny committed suicide, and she’s returned home to prove it—but it seems nothing ever changes in Destiny, Louisiana. The small town looks the same as ever, and the same good old boys are sitting in the same vinyl booths at the same diner, conniving and backstabbing and telling lies. Too bad one of them just happens to be Sayre’s daddy, Huff Hoyle. A self-made rich man in a poor parish, he owns a smoke-belching iron foundry, a hellish place that at least provides employment for the beaten-down men of Destiny. If industrial accidents do happen in one of ’em now and then, well, that’s God’s will. Tough-talking Huff don’t want the government OSHA boys anywhere near his foundry, and that goes double for union organizers and other un-American busybodies. Sayre’s heard it all before—and still doesn’t trust either him or her creepy older brother, Chris, who took so much pleasure in tormenting her when they were young. And there’s Huff’s new right-hand man, lawyer Beck Merchant, to contend with. What exactly does Beck stand to gain by his involvement with Huff and cronies? If only he weren’t so good-looking and sexy. . . . Back to the story: Did Slap Watkins, jug-eared, degenerate scion of inbred bayou-dwellers, kill gentleman Danny in a fit of rage when Danny refused to hire Slap’s fellow parolees? Nah. Slap doesn’t have the brains or coordination to kill a June bug. Back to the subplot: Will the tyrannical Huff resort to violence when his ironworkers defy him and go out on strike? And back to the reason Sayre hates Huff: He forced her to have an abortion, performed by an incompetent doctor who tied her, screaming, to the table in his back room. And now for the reason Beck hates Huff . . . .

Sluggish plot hemmed in by too much backstory and going-through-the-motions prose. Not Brown’s best.

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2004

ISBN: 0-7432-4553-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2004

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