GOOD COP – BAD COP!

A Cop's EyesWhat does it take to be a good cop? Natsume in A COP’S EYES and Mekari in SHIELD OF STRAW each brings his own approach—along with some pretty heavy personal baggage—to his work as a Tokyo police detective.

Calm, soft-spoken Natsume certainly doesn’t fit the image of a hardened Tokyo cop. He’d started his career working with troubled kids at a reformatory but had abruptly quit to join the force. Those who know him wonder why this gentle man, whose vocation had been to believe in other people, had chosen a new profession based on doubting them. Sincere, empathetic, and persistent, Natsume doesn’t resort to physical force or even flashy forensics. He solves cases by listening closely and winning the trust of both victims and perps—then looking into their hearts and minds with the eyes of someone who can truly understand.

Shield of StrawAssistant Inspector Mekari, on the other hand, has no interest in getting into the head of the child rapist-murderer he’s ordered to escort back to Tokyo to stand trial. He just wants to complete the assignment and be done with the creep. A recent and still-grieving widower, he had thought he’d be willing to take a bullet in the line of duty. But things have gotten complicated: a billion-dollar bounty has been placed on the killer’s head by the latest victim’s grandfather. Now, with just about everyone in Japan lusting after the money, Mekari struggles to come to grips with his own sense of duty…to his job, to the thoroughly evil person he’s supposed to keep safe, and to himself.

Network of Terror

Prophecy part 1As technology continues to make our world smaller, it may also seem as if people’s freedoms are equally becoming more and more restricted. The internet is also being threatened as net-neutrality is becoming a hot-button issue. So what if those on the net decided to commit their own brand of justice, while they were still ahead of the police state? And what if in ways similar to the Anonymous Group, their word is spread and endorsed by countless unknowns on the net worldwide hoping for change?

Tetsuya Tsutsui’s Prophecy takes on these questions by presenting them in modern day Japan, where societal changes has driven many people to the web for their interaction and self-expression. These days with fewer and fewer people marrying or even getting into long-term relationships, the net is home to many in that country, and across the planet. And new forms of expression are rising from Japan in ways that only the internet could fully support. In Prophecy the net has created a place for vigilantism that is now streamed live on platforms like YouTube; commented on message boards like 4Chan; and shared and reblogged on network like Twitter and Facebook. There is no need for newspapers or radio anymore to spread this new form of messaging. And the four paperboys of this story are ready to tell the world their story.

Extremely timely and provocative, Prophecy is not your standard JUMP title. It is a thriller that does not rely on fantasy or fan-service, instead it turns its focus on themes and topics that are even more compelling – employment issues, class wars, immigration and internet-inspired movements.

Hardboiled and Hard to Put Down!

A Dog in WaterThe term “hardboiled” is used to describe a subgenre of detective fiction that typically incorporates graphic sex and violence, an urban setting, and fast-paced, slangy dialogue. The stories feature a protagonist who is a cynical, unsentimental detective, although sometimes he’s got a well-hidden soft spot for a pretty dame. The great American writer Dashiell Hammett is credited with inventing the genre in the late 1920’s, and it’s most frequently associated with American crime novels by the likes of  James M. Cain and Raymond Chandler.

But, as Kazuhiro Kiuchi proves in A Dog in Water, hardboiled detective fiction seamlessly makes the jump to Japan.  Kiuchi’s new novel has the taut pacing,  raw narrative, and tough-guy P.I. that tag it as a classic of the genre. The Detective (who is never named) is an antihero for today’s world, with his own version of a moral compass that keeps him on track as he takes on the Yakuza, gun dealers, sleazy nightclub owners, and other unsavory denizens of Tokyo’s back alleys and smoke-filled joints.

The wild ride begins when a beautiful bar hostess, calling herself Junko Tajima, hires the Detective to help her deal with her married lover’s violent brother. Following a trail that starts with Junko’s tale of sexual assault, the Detective discovers that the story gets only murkier as he keeps looking for clarity. People are not whom they say they are and not what they seem. Are the victims really the victims—and if the bad guys are really all bad, why is the Detective sometimes on the same team?

Dark, disturbing, brutal, A Dog in Water is the kind of novel that shows you the nastiest side of life, and then reminds you that it’s still possible to hold on to some shred of humanity in the face of it.