[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of “The Last Train” by Michael Pronko.]
4 out of 4 stars
Review by katiesquilts
In Tokyo, the main form of transportation used by millions of commuters each day can easily become a deadly force. Trains – subways, commuter lines, express and bullet trains – run like clockwork with barely a minute’s delay. If you were planning to kill yourself in Tokyo, your first and most likely option would be to jump onto the tracks — an option that, unfortunately, many people choose every day. What if you wanted to kill someone else?
Detective Hiroshi Shimizu mostly works with money laundering, tracking illegal funds, the sort of thing that he can do alone on his computer. However, when he receives a visit from his friend Takamatsu in homicide, he’s pulled into Tokyo’s dark underside. He runs all over Tokyo, from hostess clubs in Roppongi to Narita airport, trying to track down who may have killed a foreign businessman working in Japan. Marking the death as a suicide would be the easiest route, but the foreigner was seen with a beautiful woman right before his death. Unlike with his money laundering work, this time Hiroshi’s not sitting on the other side of a screen from the bad guys. He’s working on a time limit as well, hoping that he can find the mystery woman – before she finds him first.
The Last Train is Michael Pronko’s first full-blown novel. Pronko is known as an expert on Japan, and has written a variety of articles and essays about Japanese culture. In The Last Train, he puts all of his knowledge to use to create a vibrant and true-to-form Tokyo. As a reader living in Tokyo, I experienced déjà vu reading about the exact train I was riding on. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought The Last Train was an English translation of a Japanese crime novel.
Besides the larger-than-life descriptions, I enjoyed the characters and the way they interacted with each other. There were many characters in the novel, as Hiroshi followed leads and hunted down his suspect. Each character, even the seemingly minor characters, left lasting impressions. I was actually disappointed when the end of the novel came around, wanting to learn more about the characters and what they would do next.
Honestly, I couldn’t find one mistake or quirk in the entire novel. I would definitely recommend it to crime and murder mystery fans, especially those with an interest in Japanese culture. There’s nothing too graphic despite the mention of multiple murders. However, it’s a bit slowed-pace and true to real investigations, so it may not suit those looking for a lot of action in their novels. Overall, I give The Last Train 4 out of 4 stars and am looking forward to reading Pronko’s other novels, also featuring Detective Hiroshi.
The Last Train
View: on Bookshelves