Peter Tasker

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Tokyo Noir – The Silent Dead


Peter Tasker


Peter Tasker

Who does what gruesome things to who on the dark net website called Strawberry Night?  You’ll find the answer in the pages of Tetsuya Honda’s gripping thriller, The Silent Dead.

You can buy it here.

You’ll also meet a roster of highly believable cops, functioning as cops do the world over.

They’d agreed to meet at a diner. Katsumata got there at four twenty-five. Not knowing what Tashiro looked like, Katsumata called his cell. A man seated on the bench for patrons waiting to be served pulled out his phone.

Katsumata walked up to him. “Are you Mr. Tomohiko Tashiro?”

“I am. You must be Lieutenant Katsumata. I -”

Before the man could even finish his sentence, Katsumata had grabbed his tie and yanked him onto his feet.

“You sewer rat, you’re coming with me. Hey, waitress, this gent won’t be needing a table after all.”

Katsumata dragged Tashiro out of the diner and down to the parking lot. A couple getting out of their car looked at them with open-mouthed suspicion. Katsumata ignored them and hauled Tashiro right to the back.

Such are the old-school investigatory methods of the wonderfully foul-mouthed Police Lieutenant Kensaku “Stubby” Katsumata.

Lieutenant Reiko Himekawa, the heroine of the story, has to contend not only with psychopaths, twisted thrill-seekers and the unwanted romantic advances of gyoza-guzzling colleagues. She also has to counter the devious machinations of Stubby, her bitter rival within the Homicide Division of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police.

Reiko is intuitive, honest and idealistic. Stubby is a sneaky, cynical bully. In the salty cop-talk of Giles Murray’s superb translation he won the contest for this reader’s affections hands-down.

“Welcome to the big leagues, slowpoke. Things move fast here. You’re not in Hicksville anymore.”

“What’s with this ‘hick’ crap you keep throwing at me?”

“If Urawa isn’t Hicksville, then where the fuck is? I’m a Tokyo man, born and fucking bred. You- you’re an ignorant, potato-eating slut from the boonies. That’s why you like to screw behind park toilets…”

Here speaks a man who would be right at home in cop-shops from New York to Newcastle-on-Tyne.

The Silent Dead does everything you want a police procedural mystery to do. The puzzle is puzzling; the twists are sharp; the nasty people do very nasty things; even more disturbing are the nasty things done by seemingly solid citizens.

The resolution is satisfying but leaves us with the knowledge that everyone involved is damaged, the beauteous Reiko included. Innocence is impossible in the dark, neon-streaked heart of Tokyo noir.

Author Tetsuya Honda is a would-be rock musician who turned to writing at the age of 30.  He has written dozens of novels, including seven in the Reiko Himekawa detective series.  His work deserves to be much better known outside Japan.

A word of commendation for the translation. The raw, idiomatic language is perfect for the scuzzy milieu the characters inhabit.

I wonder what the Japanese is for “pussy-whipped zombie?”

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