The Last Train

Written by Michael Pronko⎮ Narrated by Peter Berkrot

Author: Lynn McLaughlin
Narrator: Peter Berkrot
Length: 10 hours 41 minutes
Series: Detective Hiroshi, Volume 1
Publisher: Raked Gravel Press
Released: Apr. 26, 2021
Genre: Mystery

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Synopsis

In Tokyo, murder’s easy to hide. Detective Hiroshi Shimizu investigates white-collar crime in Tokyo. When an American businessman turns up dead, his mentor Takamatsu calls him out to the site of a grisly murder. A glimpse from a security camera video suggests the killer might be a woman. Hiroshi quickly learns how close homicide and suicide can appear in a city full of high-speed trains just a step - or a push - away.

Takamatsu drags Hiroshi out to the hostess clubs and skyscraper offices of Tokyo in search of the killer. Hiroshi goes deeper and deeper into Tokyo’s intricate, perilous market for buying and selling the most expensive land in the world. He teams up with ex-sumo wrestler Sakaguchi to scour Tokyo’s sacred temples, corporate offices, and industrial wastelands to find out why one woman was driven to murder.

After years in America and lost in neat, clean spreadsheets, Hiroshi confronts the stark realities of the biggest city in the world, where inside information can travel in a flash from the insiders at top investment firms to street-level punks and teenage hostesses, everyone scrambling for their cut of Tokyo’s lucrative land deals. Hiroshi’s determined to cut through Japan’s ambiguities - and dangers - to find the murdering ex-hostess before she extracts her final revenge - which just might be him.

Willow's Review

5 Stars

This audiobook was provided by its author, Michael Pronko, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Thanks, Michael!

Author Pronko's wordsmithing abilities immediately captured the reader's attention via the vivid descriptions of the bombastic sounds of bustling Tokyo within the gritty urban wards teeming with crime, culture, and ramen shops. Indeed, Pronko has lived within this vibrant city with millions of people, high-speed trains, and the undertones of its traditional culture are paired with the technological anomalies of the modern age.

Tokyo is a city where anything is possible; a mysterious Japanese woman led an unwitting American businessman to a train station in Tokyo. She proceeded to push the hapless and helpless man in front of the last train of the evening. Upon the discovery of the body, many believed it was an accident or a suicide.

Shortly after that, the clandestine murder was assigned to the recently heartbroken police detective Hiroshi Shimizu and the Tokyo homicide unit for further investigation. Shimizu was brilliantly talented at his craft of professionally investigating financial crimes. His ability to speak English fluently caused the investigative department to randomly assign him to homicide cases.

The novel followed an unpredictable pattern of current events while jetting back to the past for a flashback scene or memory from the delves of the murderer's dark mind and haunted past. Another aspect of the novel that was quite memorable was the intricate examples of Japanese values, honor, and loyalty. The culturally relevant cast of unique characters was created with accuracy and nuances that will surely impress even the most educated Japanophiles.

The narration provided by the talented Peter Berkrot delivered the story with a stoic cadence that allowed the listener to draw their own conclusions about the characters and criminal aspects that were present from the first page to the last. His calm vocal tonality held space for the absurdity of the criminal minds at play in stark contrast to the murder investigation.

For anyone who enjoys murder mysteries or Japanese culture, this novel is a must-read! Undoubtedly, readers will wonder if The Last Train will be followed by a sequel. Hopefully, the talented Micheal Pronko will grace his readership with another novel based in the enigmatically mysterious city of Tokyo.

Fortunately, Pronko does have two other books that showcase the life and work of detective Shimizu, Thai Girl in Tokyo, and Japan Hand! Add these titles to your ever-growing GoodReads list for the future!

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