Finally, an intriguing detective thriller set in Japan that refuses to turn the lead characters into caricatures, and base its premise on such tropes as sushi and martial arts. Reading author Joseph Brewer’s biography, he did a tour of duty in the US Navy and spent considerable time in Asia. The author’s regard and insider perspective on Japan in general, and Tokyo in particular, bring an authenticity and sense of immediacy to this richly rendered narrative.
I liked Shig Sato, the senior detective driven to solve the mystery of the murdered nightclub waitress. He is flawed in the way us humans tend to be; trapped by family history and tradition. Witnessing the good detective navigate his way between the shoals of organized crime, corrupt superiors, influence peddling corporate titans, ambivalent subordinates, and the American military and personal heartbreak–in his quest to track down loathsome yakuza street punks–makes for a fascinating read.
By lifting the veil, ever so slightly, on the Japanese’s enigmatic (to Westerners) ways and rich culture, Brewer helps us understand our larger world a little better—without sacrificing a damn good read. He doesn’t flinch from unsettled matters such as the resistance in some quarters to the American military presence in Japan or the ethnic divisions that divide, specifically bigotry; Nor should he as this is the world that his relentless detective, Shig Sato, inhabits. With the detective’s wonderful debut in “The Gangster’s Son”, I look forward to soon reading the next Shig Sato mystery…..