THE TIME OF THE CRICKET by William D. Blankenship


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 This pedestrian thriller pits a Japanese cop and an American agent for wealthy art collectors against a brutal yakuza executioner as they struggle for a legendary samurai sword. Kay Williams, in Tokyo to purchase the sword of the Emperor Meiji for her client, instead witnesses the murder of the charming old man who owns this rare collectible. The killer is Masao ``Cricket'' Kimura, who has been employed by a top yakuza chief to obtain the sword and use it to remove as many heads as necessary to scare off a group of disgruntled investors suing to recover billions of yen from a sleazy businessman with criminal ties. The case is assigned to Detective Inspector Takeo Saji, who happens to be a boyhood friend of Hideki Kohno, the man behind the investment scam. Because Saji is burakumin (a member of the Japanese social class equivalent to India's untouchables) and kikokushigo (someone so changed by residence in a foreign country--America in his case- -that the Japanese no longer accept him), he is neither respected nor liked by his peers, rendering his assignment almost impossible. He has been deliberately chosen for just that reason by a higher-up who is involved in the mass-murder effort. Blankenship (Brotherly Love, not reviewed, etc.) has written the sort of story in which unlikely relationships abound well beyond the point of credulity, characters are extraordinarily open with one another within minutes of meeting (especially in matters sexual), and fast-paced, often bloody action is expected to mask improbable coincidence. Even the inside look at Japanese life (Blankenship lived for five years in Tokyo) proves to be superficial at best. Disappointing. The open door for a sequel seems overly optimistic. (First printing of 30,000)

Pub Date: Jan. 30th, 1995
ISBN: 1-55611-430-3
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Donald Fine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1994