Detective Hiroshi Shimizu investigates white collar crime in Tokyo. He’s lost his girlfriend and still dreams of his time studying in America, but with a stable job, his own office and a half-empty apartment, he’s settled in.

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 was a woman, but in Japan, that seems unlikely. 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. She’s trying to escape Japan for a new life by playing a high-stakes game of insider information. To find her, Hiroshi goes deeper and deeper into Tokyo’s intricate, ominous market for the most expensive real estate in the world.

When Takamatsu inexplicably disappears, Hiroshi teams up with ex-sumo wrestler Sakaguchi. They scour Tokyo’s sacred temples, corporate offices and industrial wastelands to find out where Takamatsu went, and why one woman would be driven to murder when she seems to have it all.

In a megalopolis of 40 million people, finding one woman is nearly impossible. If he can’t find her, more businessmen will die, she’ll flee the country and the male-dominated, cutthroat world of buying and selling property will never change.

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 top investment firms to the bottom of the working world, where street-level punks and teenage hostesses sell their souls for a small cut of high-profit 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.



 Spotlight Reviews Feathered Quill

The most compelling aspect of this thriller is not the typical whodunit that lingers on the minds of readers throughout the story (in fact the murderer is revealed early on), but the motivation behind the decision to murder, and who will be the next target. Continue Reading

Reader Views Review of The Last Train

“The Last Train” by Michael Pronko is a five-star detective read, the first in the series. It is unique, intriguing, and will hook the reader from beginning to end. I highly recommend it to all mystery lovers! Continue Reading

Review from Indie Reader

THE LAST TRAIN is a heartfelt, thoughtful ode to a strange and beautiful city, in the way that so many classic detective novels are. Lyrically written, with plenty of suspense, this a novel that aims to please, and can’t really help but do so. Continue Reading

Review from

With The Last Train, Michael Pronko takes his adopted hometown and uses it as the setting for this unconventional take on the whodunit, which turns the genre on its ear and focuses not on the who, but the lightning-fast chase to the finish line. Continue Reading


In Reference to Murder

As a writer, I don’t, thankfully, suffer from writer’s block, but I do sometimes suffer from research blockade. That’s the moment where I have to stop to find out what I need to know before I can go forward. Continue Reading

Interview with Books and Benches

The scene I like best is a funeral where the bad guy, a femme fatale named Michiko, is watching the funeral she’s responsible for. The detective, Hiroshi, is there to see who’s at the wedding. It’s still not clear to Hiroshi if the deceased American committed suicide or was killed. So, Hiroshi is watching a Japanese-style funeral for an American man and looking over at a beautiful Japanese woman sitting to the side and at the friends of the dead man and trying to figure out what’s going on. Continue Reading

Interview Feathered Quill

FQ: I enjoyed all of the characters in this story, especially the interactions between the detectives. Are any of these compelling characters based on real life people?
PRONKO: Mostly they are composites of people I’ve observed and spoken with over the years. As for Michiko, she’s based on hostesses who work in the night world pouring drinks and talking with men that I’ve seen when out and about. Continue Reading

Interview with My Book Place

I got the idea for it because I live in Tokyo, and was a jazz writer for quite a few years, and still am. But when I started I was writing about jazz for the Japan Times, so I was always out at night in the nightlife parts of the city. I’d see these hostesses who work in all the clubs there, and they are stunningly attractive. But, I wondered what kind of life they led, staying up all night, working in the clubs in all these pretty wild areas of the city. I stared to wonder what was inside their appealing external appearance. Continue Reading

Interview with Paul Semel at

What about non-literary influences; do you think any movies, TV shows, or video games had an influence on The Last Train, and if so, what in what ways?
Films and more films, yes. I love film noir, and even the most B-movie-like of them are fascinating. I watch many films set in Japan, old and new, so I learn a lot from those. Most samurai films, which I really love, could be considered mysteries, or suspense/thrillers. Continue Reading

Writing Setting, Writing Tokyo: Guest Post by Michael Pronko

Setting is one of the trickiest parts of writing a novel. It can enrich a scene or dampen it, act as a springboard or a wall. When I set my mystery, The Last Train, in Tokyo, I wondered how much readers would have seen of Tokyo, if anything. “Lost in Translation” maybe? I knew the setting was integral to the story, but how to get that across to readers with only a few telling, or rather showing, images? Continue Reading

Interview with Literary Titan

I was always going to Roppongi and Shinjuku and Shibuya, nightlife parts of the city. I’d see the hostesses who work in all the clubs there, and they would often be in the jazz clubs. They were almost always strikingly attractive, but underneath that seemed some sadness. Whatever one thinks of their work, the women seemed smart. What impressed me most, though, was the great personal dignity with which they carried themselves. Continue Reading

Interview on Patrick Sherriff’s great site

Patrick Sherriff: How did you come to write Japan crime novels? I think you are better known as an essayist, certainly that’s how I came across your name.
Michael Pronko: Actually, I “came back” to writing novels. Outside of school assignments, all I wrote when I was young was fiction. I just didn’t publish it. And then just when I started to get things published, about twenty years ago, I got a couple of great gigs writing essays, reviews, and journalism, so I went with that. Continue Reading


Winner 2017 Crime Fiction

Beverly Hills Book Award

2017 Winner Mystery

Book Excellence Awards

Finalist- IAN Book of the Year Awards

The Independent Author Network

Finalist  – Category Thriller
Book Readers Appreciation Group

Silver Honoree
Benjamin Franklin Digital Award

Solo Medalist Winner
New Apple Awards