Bluebonnets and Book Deals!

I wanted to check in with you to let you know what’s been happening. In a word: Lots! A lot of writing and planning the rest of the Shig Sato series. In a few weeks, I’ll have some chapters for you to peruse – and I love feedback! So don’t be shy about telling me what you think.

I’ve lived in Austin, Texas, for a little more than two years now and it’s been great. Right now is Texas Bluebonnet time. The wildflowers here are amazing, and one thing many people do is take their picture with bluebonnets.

Since I am definitely camera-averse, I’ll skip that part, but here’s a little something of what I mean. (photo courtesy Dallas Morning News)

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Another thing that came up recently is the U.S. News & World Report Top Cities. Austin is No. 1 for the second year in a row. Here’s the link. I’ve lived in many cities thanks to my journalism career, including New York, Chicago, and Tokyo, and I can tell you Austin has it all on a scale that makes everything accessible and affordable. There’s a vibrant dining scene here, and the music is second to none. Come for a visit when you can!

Along with ‘mapping out’ the remaining Shig Sato mysteries, I have been posting book reviews on my blog. One review was for the Alex Vane media thriller The Anonymous Source by my friend A.C. Fuller. It’s a read I’d highly recommend. In fact, this Sunday, April 15, he’s having a sale on two of Alex Vane media thrillers – US and UK only. The Anonymous Source finds Alex in a media conspiracy that goes back to 9/11, and in The Inverted Pyramid, he attempts to untangle a web surrounding a dead hacker and an attempt to rig the 2004 election.

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Remember: Today! Sunday, April 15, one day only – each book will be 99 cents – just click!

In the meantime, be well and good reading.

All the best from me and Shig,

Joe

 

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Joseph Mark Brewer writes the Shig Sato mysteries. Mix up some Lieutenant Columbo and Kurt Wallander and you have an interesting character in Sato and a thrilling new series set in the heart of Tokyo. Click for your copy of The Gangster’s SonThe Thief’s MistakeTraitors & Lies, or Cat’s Meow. And check out Shig’s Readers Club to get a free copy of Tokyo Summer, the exciting Shig Sato prequel that tells the story of the events that led up to The Gangster’s Son.

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Read a Book a Week Challenge!

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Here’s to 2018 bringing you health, happiness, and many hours of reading enjoyment, whomever you choose.

My challenge to myself is to read more. I’m aiming for a book a week, 52 books in 2018. I hope you’ll join me. Any book, any topic, any genre: a book a week.

And for fun: send me an email and tell me what book you’ve read, if you liked it (or not), if you’d recommend it (or not), and I’ll post it here.

The Every Wednesday Reading Club starts January 10th.

Don’t miss out!

All the best,

Joe

Get to know Shig Sato – Private investigators in Japan

detectiveIn the Shig Sato Mystery series, Shig goes from being a respected police officer to, after his mandatory retirement, a private investigator. He had no real plans to become a P.I., and only mentioned it to his superior, the superintendent-general, as a quick way to end a conversation. Then Shig received a note from Kazuo Takahashi, one of the wealthiest of all the Japanese industrialists. Takahashi had been aware of Sato for a number of years, and when he was told by the Tokyo Police superintendent general that Sato once mentioned perhaps becoming a private investigator in his retirement — well. Takahashi couldn’t wait to hire Sato.

It’s a staple of modern Japanese storytelling that a prospective bride or groom is investigated before a marriage can take place. It’s a staple because it’s true. And of course, in the modern world, private investigators/private detectives are hired for a variety of reasons, from tracking down wayward spouses, background investigations and locating people, to investigations unique to business and government.In present-day Tokyo, there are over 10,000 agencies in present-day Japan,  and there are schools that offer classes on how to prepare for that occupation. In fact, the U.S. embassy has a list of private detectives on it’s website.

Although Shig Sato is a reluctant P.I., he is slowly growing into his new role as a civilian investigator. In the time of the Sato mysteries, Shig believes his new career as a P.I. a huge step down from his police career. Will he find it as rewarding as when he was the highly respected Inspector Sato? To find out, you’ll have to read the mysteries. My new release, Cat’s Meow, provides a clue!

41BihmTO1ILCat’s Meow is Book 4 in the Shig Sato Mystery Series. In a race against time to find a killer before a strikes again, a case from Shig’s past propels him to get to the bottom of the crime spree. Don miss it!  Just click. And don’t forget: if you’re reading this on your cell phone or tablet, keep scrolling down. You’ll find all of the Shig Sato Mysteries down there. If you’re reading this on your home computer, you’ll find them on the right. And if you haven’t signed up for the Shig Sato newsletter, you can do that here. Once in a while I share what’s happening with Shig, offer great deals in mysteries and thrillers from my author friends, and announce when the next special will come along. Don’t miss out. Just click here to enter the World of Shig Sato.

Get to know Shig Sato – Where Shig Lives

Shig lives in Hyakunincho, Shinjuku, a Tokyo neighborhood very much a part of its urban landscape. Central Tokyo is considered to be inside the Yamanote Commuter Line ‘circle.’ Hyakunincho is one of the many Yamanote neighborhoods that encircle the city.  A ride on the Yamanote line can take you to Tokyo’s festive Ueno Park for cherry-blossom viewing, the newest electronics at Akihabara, the historic Tokyo Station, and the much-photographed Shibuya crossing.  (The train route below with the black and white squares is the Yamanote Line. As you can see, it is a must-ride for any visitor.)SaveThisMap

Why did I place Shig in this neighborhood. It’s where I lived for a time when I was in Tokyo in the late 1980s, in a foreign house not unlike the Yamanote Villa.

First of all: Tokyo is not a city, according to its government system. It is a prefecture all its own, made up of 23 wards, one of which is Shinjuku. Inside Shinjuku is are the districts of Shinjuku, Takadanobaba, Kagurazka, Ichigawa, Yotsuya, and Okubo. Often, train stations take the name of their district. There is an Okubo station, part of the JR East (Japan Railway) line. That station and its predecessors date back to the 1890s. Shin-Okubo (‘New’-Okubo) is a stop on the Yamanote line. It is a station unto itself — it is one of two on the Yamanote line that has no direct service to any other train line.

What follows is a series of screen shots from Google Maps that show some areas of Hyakunincho. It’s Shig’s neighborhood. Its streets are his streets.

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The building with the blue roof is Shin-Okubo Station on Okubo-dori (Okubo Street). The train tracks to its immediate right is the Yamanote commuter line. The street that leads to Shig’s home is across Okubo-dori, next to the building with the green roof.

 

A view of Shin-Okubo Station
A view of Shin-Okubo Station.
A view of the Yamanote trains and the underpass
A view facing east: Okubo-dori, the Yamanote commuters trains, and the underpass.
The lane that leads to Shig's home
The lane that leads to Shig’s house. Kei’s yakitori-ya would be at the end of the first block on the left.
View walking north, Globe Theatre on right
A view of the lane as it continues north. The Globe Theater is hidden behind the trees on the right.
Closup of Shig's neighborhood
A close-up of Shig’s neighborhood. His house would be situated at the very bottom left, the grey roof across from the red roof. At top right is a neighbor recreational baseball diamond, which was there when I lived in Hyakunincho.

One of my aims in writing the Shig series is to provide directions as accurately as possible. My hope is a person in Tokyo could find ‘Shig’s House’ by the descriptions in my novels. If not, the blame is entirely mine. Have any questions about Tokyo and it’s many wards? Leave a question in the comments and I’ll answer them.

41BihmTO1ILCat’s Meow is Book 4 in the Shig Sato Mystery Series. In a race against time to find a killer before a strikes again, a case from Shig’s past propels him to get to the bottom of the crime spree. Don miss it! Just click. And don’t forget: if you’re reading this on your cell phone or tablet, keep scrolling down. You’ll find all of the Shig Sato Mysteries down there. If you’re reading this on your home computer, you’ll find them on the right. And if you haven’t signed up for the Shig Sato newsletter, you can do that here. Once in a while I share what’s happening with Shig, offer great deals in mysteries and thrillers from my author friends, and announce when the next special will come along. Don’t miss out. Just click here to enter the World of Shig Sato.

Get to know Shig Sato – Serial Killers in Japan

41BihmTO1ILCat’s Meow, my latest Shig Sato Mystery, could have been ripped from the headlines — but it wasn’t.

I write about crime and events that are common anywhere in the world, but place them in 1990s Tokyo, with my characters Shig Sato, Ken Abe, Mo Kato, Hisoka Endo, the Kobayashi twins, and all the other folks who populate the stories.

But the serial killer phenomenon isn’t new. It’s very real, and it has a history in that country just as in another other.

What’s grabbing the headlines now: a woman seeking a suicide partner led police to a residence in Zama where severed heads were found in coolers. You can read the story from The New York Times by clicking the link here. Some politicians blame the crime on the alleged killer playing video games. You can read the SoraNews24 story here.

And the case of the ‘Black Widow’ – woman sentenced to death for killing her husbands and other men by having them drink cyanide. You can read a story here  courtesy The Japan Times.

Ripped from the headlines, a story all it’s own, with the inimitable Shig Sato on the case. Cat’s Meow.

See you tomorrow!

Cat’s Meow is Book 4 in the Shig Sato Mystery Series. In a race against time to find a killer before a strikes again, a case from Shig’s past propels him to get to the bottom of the crime spree. Don miss it! Just click. And don’t forget: if you’re reading this on your cell phone or tablet, keep scrolling down. You’ll find all of the Shig Sato Mysteries down there. If you’re reading this on your home computer, you’ll find them on the right. And if you haven’t signed up for the Shig Sato newsletter, you can do that here. Once in a while I share what’s happening with Shig, offer great deals in mysteries and thrillers from my author friends, and announce when the next special will come along. Don’t miss out. Just click here to enter the World of Shig Sato.

 

Get to know Shig Sato – Tokyo Metropolitan Police

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department (Keishichoo) serves as the police force for the Tokyo metropolis. It is headed by a superintendent general, who is appointed by the National Public Safety Commission and approved by the Prime Minister. The

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One of hundreds of police kobans.

headquarters building, shaped like a wedge with cylindrical towers on top, is located in the Kasumigaseki district, near the Justice ministry and the Imperial Palace. There are 102 police stations in the metropolitan area, and 826 koban, a small neighborhood police station and a critical part of department’s community police efforts. There are 256 residential kobanAnywhere from one to ten officers can be assigned to a koban. The officers keep watch, respond to emergencies, and interact with the public.

Shig Sato joined the department in 1951, leaving his his studies at Waseda University to earn a living to support his family after the death of his maternal grandfather, who was his main paternal figure after his father was drafted when he was just eight years old. He met his future wife, Miki, while a student at Waseda. Shig’s training and initial assignments were no different than any other young police officer. His supervisors noticed his quiet determination and ability to put seemingly dissimilar actions and clues together to solve a crime. But like most young, single police officers, he lived in police housing and worked in several kobans before his true value was recognized and rewarded.

If you have read the prequel novel Tokyo Summer, you’ll learn about the circumstances that led to a move late in Shig’s career. He was assigned to the Security Police, a protection unit mandated to protect domestic and foreign VIPs on Japanese soil. The officers where suits, distinctive pins and ties, and the service is modeled after the U.S Secret Service. High ranking minsters of state, such as the Prime Minister, President of the House of Councilors, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and foreign ambassadors and visiting dignitaries all are protected by the Security Police. Shig was, for a time, assigned to the Imperial Household Agency, protecting the Emperor, Empress, and the royal family.

But Shig’s ability to solve crime enabled him to leave the security services as his retirement neared. It was during this return to criminal investigations that sets the stage for The Gangster’s Son. The events of the summer of 1991 continue through Book 2, The Thief’s Mistake, and Book 3, Traitors & Lies. Book 4, Cat’s Meow, takes place in the autumn of that year. But things have not gotten much better for Shig.

Or have they?

Cat’s Meow is available now for pre-order on Amazon. Just click for your copy – and find out!

See you tomorrow!

41BihmTO1ILCat’s MeowCat’s Meow is Book 4 in the Shig Sato Mystery Series. In a race against time to find a killer before a strikes again, a case from Shig’s past propels him to get to the bottom of the crime spree. Don miss it! Just click. And don’t forget: if you’re reading this on your cell phone or tablet, keep scrolling down. You’ll find all of the Shig Sato Mysteries down there. If you’re reading this on your home computer, you’ll find them on the right. And if you haven’t signed up for the Shig Sato newsletter, you can do that here. Once in a while I share what’s happening with Shig, offer great deals in mysteries and thrillers from my author friends, and announce when the next special will come along. Don’t miss out. Just click here to enter the World of Shig Sato.

 

Many Thanks!

The Gangster’s Son was published over three years ago as book one in the Shig Sato Mystery series. Set in Tokyo in the 1990s, it features a police inspector, Shig Sato, who is at a crossroads: mandatory retirement and a wife who is terminally ill. Upon his return to Azabu Police Station in the Roppongi Hills district, his old ‘home turf’ – he gets a case that could prove to be his last. The murder of a jazz club waitress forces him to confront a secret he’s held tightly onto for years: he is indebted to a yakuza boss, a man who was once his best childhood friend.

The Gangster’s Son has been downloaded over 4,000 times and has sold in dozen countries. It’s success encouraged me to continue writing the Shig Sato saga – book 2 and book 3 is available at most ebook vendors. But it’s The Gangster’s Son that’s closest to my heart.

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I just want to say thanks for all the support, and that another Shig Sato Mystery will be coming your way later this year.  I’ll keep you posted on all the Shig news coming soon.

Suicide or murder? A Shig Sato bonus novella just for you!

ssnovella1Of all the summer projects I chose to tackle after relocating to Austin, Texas, the most challenging – and most fun! – was writing my first Shig Sato novella, Tokyo Summer. But it is available only to my email list subscribers. So don’t miss out. Click here to sign up for all the Shig Sato news and this Shig prequel, Tokyo Summer, available Sept. 28.

Here’s a sneak peek:

Junichi Ohto was a 30-year veteran of the Tokyo Metropolitan police. Thin and bald and with a smoker’s hack, he would never admit that being a detective at such a small outfit like Tsukishima Police Station was as good as his spotty career would get.

There had been days when he still had his hopes. At first, catching the Usami case that late June evening had given him hope that a good murder would put him right with his boss. But within minutes of taking in all the details he knew it was suicide. Typical domestic turmoil, husband some sort of mid-level big shot at the Bank of Japan. Wife a typical “education mama” who lived for her kids passing their college entrance exams. Why she swallowed a vial of valium was anyone’s guess.

“If she wanted to kill herself she could have jumped into the Sumida River and saved us all a lot of trouble,” he said to his partner, a detective so young and green he barely spoke a word other than “yes” and “excuse me.”

It didn’t take long for them to wrap up their interviews and file that case away.

“All we need are the toxicology reports,” Ohto told his station chief. “Not gonna get anything from them, either, I bet.”

Then, a few weeks later, Ohto’s boss said, “That Usami case? Murder.”

It hadn’t been a pleasant morning. Admonished like a rookie, scorned for being old and useless, Ohto knew the toxicology report made everyone in the station look bad.

Ohto lit a Seven Star cigarette and coughed for a minute after inhaling the delicious smoke. He wondered how quickly he was going to get demoted behind once Division took over the case. His boss had said that Sato asked for Ohto. By name.

He heard that the detectives picking up the case at Division were Ken Abe and Mo Kato, two officers he knew and resented for being the types the higher-ups liked. Kato could wait out a glacier for one key clue. And Abe. Ohto had seen for himself how Abe’s strange sense of smell had led to the arrest of a cross-dresser simply by identifying perfumes, lotions and body secretions no self-respecting man would know the first thing about.

But Inspector Shig Sato. He knew then that he was in trouble. Sato left no stone unturned. Ohto knew he was bound to be grilled like a tuna.

He smoked the cigarette down to the paper filter in 27 seconds then lit another before hitching a ride to Chuo. Ohto made it into the station with what little dignity he could muster, his eyes focused on what was in front of him as he quickly walked to Criminal Investigations.

After the usual greetings Ohto took a seat by Sato’s desk. He wasn’t prepared for Sato’s tactics. A junior police officer brought tea Ohto didn’t want, but recognized the gesture for what it was, nodded his thanks, and resisted the urge to light up a cigarette.

“Ohto, I’m sure you did your best with the information you had when you were handed this Usami case.”

Ohto tilted his head to one side, admitting nothing.

“Here’s how it is. I don’t care what happened then. I care about now. Now it’s a murder investigation. Now we have to start as if it’s hour one.”

“I see.”

Sato saw that Ohto did not see.

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To get your copy of Tokyo Summer, just click and you’ll be reading in no time.

 

The World of Shig Sato: Food in Japan

A reader discovering the world of Shig Sato will soon learn that food becomes in interesting side character – Miki’s breakfast of miso soup and rice, Abe’s early life growing up in a ramen shop, Ses Fujimori’s love of okonomyaki, Shig’s lunchtime katsudon, even Mos Hishida’s nickname, a result of his steady diet of Japanese-style hamburgers. Any reader not familiar with Japanese cuisine might wonder at it all. In truth, the food of Japan is as simple as it is varied.

The simple: fish and rice. But is that really all there is? It doesn’t begin to encompass the world of sushi, much less the whole of Japanese cuisine. The popular Japan Talk website lists 100 types of sushi. Notice that fish, vegetables, eggs, meat – it’s all included – enough variety for almost any tates. Sushi, sashimi, makiit can take minutes to prepare, a lifetime to master.sushi

The importance of rice in Japanese culture cannot be overstated. The language uses the word gohan for “meal” as well as “cooked rice.” Gohan is a part of each word signifying breakfast, lunch and supper. In feudal times, wealth was measured how much rice one possessed and peasants were keenly appreciative of a payment in rice for their labor – coins were no good to them when they had to eat. Japan’s propensity for natural disasters, and it’s involvement in war, often led to a scarcity of food. Rice stockpiles were worth fighting for.

As an nation comprised of many islands large and small, a reader would be right in thinking that all types of seafood is a part of the Japanese cuisine, from the common tuna to the exotic –  pufferfish, anyone?

What many Western readers of the Shig Sato series may not realize is that farming – livestock, grain, vegetable, fruit, any combination and variety – can be found in most of the nation’s 47 prefectures. Almost any grocery store or market will have fresh local produce, seasonal fruit, cuts of meat and poultry, and packaged foods like curry mixes and spices. (When my in-laws came to visit from Canada, flour and vanilla were found and donuts were produced in an afternoon!)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne may not think of baked goods when thinking of Japanese cuisine, yet the tasty sweets and snacks appeal to young and old. And it doesn’t take much to find pan – bread – and some have even embraced the staple, when it’s made with rice flour.

The varied: Being an international city, Tokyo is home to an array of dining experiences any world traveler would appreciate. Michelin stars are not unknown in the city. Gourmets and foodies alike can find were the finest food is served, and also the stores that sell the products for those daring and talented enough to create at home.

Regional specialties abound. I’ll conclude with this list of a prefecture’s favorite dish. See if you don’t recognize some, and have probably eaten some others (and some not!).

Hokkaido – Grilled mutten

Aomori – Sea urchin and abalone

Miyagi – Oysters

Yamagata – Potato stew

Fukushima – Pickled herring

Ishikawa – Turnip sushi

Gifu – Potatoes with sweet chestnuts

Nagano – Buckwheat dumplings

Aichi – Deep fried chicken wings

Tochigi – Giyouza (potsticker) dumplings

Chiba – Steamed peanuts

Kanagawa – Curry

Mie – Lobster

Shiga – Duck hot pot

Osaka – Okonomiyaki

kobebeefHyogo – Kobe’s famous beer-fed beef

Tottori – Snow crab

Tokushima – Buckwheat porridge

Nagasaki – Sasebo burger (thanks to the navy base there)

Kukamoto – Sliced horsemeat

Miyazaki – Kyushu-style fried chicken

Okinawa – Fried pork belly

So what happend the day Miki Sato fell ill, changing Shig Sato’s life forever? Get the Shig Sato prequel Tokyo Summer – available now through Amazon. Just click.

 

Are the Kobayashi twins in trouble again?

ss3new5smIf you’ve ever read a Shig Sato Mystery, you know the hapless Kobayashi twins can’t buy a break.

Will their luck change in Traitors & Lies? This is how it begins for them:

Sweat and grime was all Ishi and Joji Kobayashi had to show for their long hot weekend in an Osaki Police Station cell. Fatigue reduced their consciousness to a dim awareness, so that Monday morning in August, after an insurance fraud and murder case veered in another direction, the powers that were decided to get the twins out of the building. Startled awake by the “on your feet, on your feet” a bored police officer rattled keys and stomped his boots just to frighten to two rat-like creatures as they wiped sleep from their beady eyes.

“What?” Joji whined.

“You’re leaving,” the officer said, unable to muster any concern.

“What?” Ishi’s suspicion was of a practical nature. Being caught breaking and entering in a copier repair shop where a body lay dead, he was sure prison was in his future, not freedom.

“Get up and get out of here,” the officer said. “Go see the sergeant on your way out.”

The twins found their way to the Sergeant Hiro, plump and with a wise owl countenance. Hiro looked down at the boys over the top of his half-moon glasses. He knew the boys were held that weekend because they had broken into a copier repair shop where a dead man was discovered. The twins had no idea of what had happened and had pleaded their innocence until the interrogations stopped. But that had been on Saturday. This was Monday. Hiro saw the suspicion in their twitching eyes.

“Seems like you boys got lucky. Forensics decided you two had nothing to do with killing that copier repair shop guy,” Hiro said. “And you’re little breaking and entering escapade is being ignored …”

“Really?” Joji twitched, unable to believe his freedom was only a few feet past the station’s front door.

“… thanks to Inspector Sato. And the chief. So do the smart thing. Get out of Gotanda as fast as possible. And stay out of Gotanda.”

“But…” Joji began, but Ishi only said, “What day is it today?”

Hiro cast a worried glance at the boys. “Monday, August 19.”

Joji began to count on his fingers how many days they had been locked up. He lost count after two.

“Okay,” Ishi hissed as he grabbed his brother by the arm and followed a waiting officer out a back door of the station. A minute later, the twins were walking down Yamate-dori, free to go where they pleased.

“Something’s not right,” Joji said.

“They let us go,” Ishi replied.

“You think Katsuhara had anything to do with this?” Joji doubted getting out of jail for no good reason. What he doubted more was the benevolence of Fat Katsuhara, a top captain and right-hand man to yakuza kingpin Ses Fujimori. Katsuhara occasionally had the twins do small jobs. Usually it got the boys in jail.

“I hope not,” Ishi said. “I think we’re in trouble, maybe not with the cops, but with the fat man.”

“Yeah. I don’t want to go anywhere near the fat man.”

“What about going back to the garage?” Joji’s question worried Ishi. He knew that when a cop like Sergeant Hiro said stay out of Gotanda, he meant it. His brain ached from the thoughts invading his brain: No place to go. No money. No food. All of their belongings at their cousin’s machine shop and no way to get there except by foot. Hot, tired, hungry and thirsty, the twins faced a long walk to a place where they were sure they would not be welcome.

Despite the sergeant’s warning, the twins agreed only place they could think of to go was their cousin’s machine shop on the other side of Gotanda station. It was the last home they had, two cots off to the side of a greasy work area. Sure of Katsuhara’s fury if he caught sight of them or knew where they were hiding, the twins walked, talked, tried to think of how to stay out of trouble, but came up with nothing other than getting their bag of a few clothes and the bar of soap and they towel they shared.

Ishi said, “Lets go.” Joji fell into step by his side.

A dozen yards behind the twins, slow and steady, a white Toyota panel van followed the twins as they walked east side toward the Yamanote elevated commuter rail line. At a red light it sped to the corner, a door opened, a man jumped out, grabbed the twins, shoved them into the van, and as the van sped off as the door slid shut and the lock clicked.

When the twins overcame their bewilderment, they saw the faces of Katsuhara thugs, young men snarling under punch perms and willing to knife their prey without blinking. The twins had been assigned one thug each. The driver was equally fierce. But it was the man in the passenger seat that got the twins’ attention.

“You two have been busy.”

Ishi and Joji glanced up saw demonic black mane of Dragon Matsumura, nephew of a Fujimori captain and their nemesis from the days when Dragon recruited potential Fujimori foot soldiers from the bosozoku motorcycle gangs. Matsumura made sport of the likes of the Kobayashis. The twins both had the same thought at the same moment: “We’re dead.”

Matsumura had seen to it that no police were following the twins. He also was sure they only thing any onlooker would do after seeing to boys hustled into a van is stop, stare, and go on about their business. He was told the cops would let the twins go after realizing they were small fry not worth housing and feeding for another day, but then, the cops were liable to do anything. When a Fujimori contact at the station said the twins were being set free, Dragon got the word: Pick them up.

Joji, too nervous to speak, glanced at Ishi, who managed to say, “Where are we–”

“Shut up.”

Matsumura kept his eyes on the road.

The twins then recognized the driver. Shiro Nakano, a motorcycle gang delinquent who acted tough and wanted to prove it. The Kobayashi twins knew him from Kenbo’s motorcycle shop in Shinjuku, a teen gang hangout where the twins were treated like vermin.  

Joji and Ishi glanced at the back of Matsumura’s head, then at the rear-view mirror. Nakano’s fierce scowl unnerved them.

They clutched each other’s arms.

“You little shits. You can’t stay out of trouble for a day without fucking up big time,” Matsumura’s disdain spewing from his angry lips.

“We didn’t -”

“Shut up.”

Unable to see out a window, Ishi and Joji glanced at the floor, each other, Matsumura, and Nakano, their breathing quickening, their nerves fraying.

“You two are costing me a morning when I could be doing something else. Certainly not driving you around,” Matsumura snarled. “But I’m here to give you a message. Stay away from anything Fujimori. You have nothing to do with the Fujimori clan, the Fujimori name, nothing, nothing to do with Fujimori. Nothing. You do not say the name, you do not talk about anything you know, you think you might know. You don’t talk to anyone about anything you’ve said or done. Got it?”

“Yes.”

“I hear of anything, you’re dead. Fat Katsuhara hears anything, you’re twice as dead. No associates, no riding clubs, no one. You’re through. Got it?”

“Yes.”

“Now get out.”

Joji’s minder opened the side panel door and the soon Joji and Ishi found themselves pushed to the ground in front of their cousin’s machine shop.

What little native intelligence the twins’ possessed had by now lead them to realize the men was not going to beat them.

“But…” Joji began.

“Don’t forget,” Matsumura said, his finger running across his throat. It was the last thing the twins saw before the van pulled away.

Picking themselves up and brushing themselves off, Ishi and Joji Kobayashi notice huge bay door into the machine shop is closed. Furtively looking about, they quickly walk along the side of the building to the back of the garage. They know the book door alarm latch had been broken and unrepaired the last time there were at the shop. Each wished it remained so.

As the peeked around the corner they saw the door shut. But the alarm still appeared broken.

“What are we going to do?” Joji asked.

“We have to try something, ” Ishi replied as he slowly crept to the door and turned the knob.

It opened.

With no alarm sounding.

The twins scampered into the shop as fast as they could, shut the door behind them and for the first time that morning, began to believe they were out of trouble.

Traitors & Lies
A Shig Sato Mystery
Look for it December 16
at Amazon
and other vendors Jan. 1

Discover the World of Shig Sato. Tokyo Summer, a Shig Sato novella, is yours when you sign up for my mailing list. No strings attached. Just click