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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Book Review Wednesday – Connected: The Shift

The book-a-week challenge continues with Connected: The Shift by Michelle Medhat.

ShiftCoverConnected: The Shift is a continuation of Connected: The Call, Michelle Medhat’s excellent multilayered lightning-quick thriller that is so much more than spies and treachery. Together, the two books make for one long entertaining yarn, served in short, easily digestible chapters. I’m glad the books are offered one after the other. It gives a reader a chance to stop, take stock, breathe, and then jump in again after recovering. If you’re up for a long go, though, you won’t be disappointed.

Connected: The Shift has the horsepower to deliver the themes hinted at in The Call. What did Ellie Noor see that caused her to scream that day in March that caused her husband Sam to confess he’s an MI6 agent, and to raise alarms in the British intelligence community? Sam’s bosses fear Ellie is a spy, or at the very least an unreliable loose cannon, which is very bad timing for her. The UK and the USA are squaring off against a vicious terrorist group bent on world domination. This offers a cover for personal vendettas as well as state-sanctioned treachery. Ellie and Sam get their fill of both.

But it’s so much more than that, and that’s where Medhat’s brilliant recipe of history, science fiction, and suspense-thriller blossoms into an edge-of-your-chair race to the finish of the book. Really. I am nowhere near a sci-fi/alt universe/fantasy fan. I confess I don’t read much of what ‘s published these days because it doesn’t measure up to what I read in my long-ago youth. It’s probably an old saw, but it’s hard to beat Asimov, Bradbury, and Heinlein. But I am expanding my reach. And I am glad I took the plunge with the Connected books. The other-worldly (other universe) storyline, the techno-thriller and biological warfare themes of the book, are an integral part of The Shift. Medhat has created a universe of which Earth is only a small part, and the entire premise feels right and gives what’s a stake on Earth an extra dimension, or several. Take this plot out of the story and this thriller is so much less. Medhat strikes the right balance. And the ending is worth the ride.

4.5 stars out of 5.

Available at Amazon and Kobo in ebook format. Available at Amazon and Nook in paperback.

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Check in every week for Book Review Wednesday. I’m reading and reviewing a book a week throughout 2018. Join me. Authors, if you have a book you would like reviewed, send me an email at joe@josephmarkbrewer.com.

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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.

Book Review Wednesday – The Girlfriend Experience

The book-a-week challenge continues with  The Girlfriend Experience (Matt Bugatti Book 1) by Charles O’Donnell.

ODonnel1Inside the mind of Dr. Matteo Bugatti lives the single-minded desire to break the internet’s most secure code. Which is fine for the naive computer wizard, until the NSA and the Chinese take an interest in his doings. The closer he gets to solving the riddle, the higher the stakes become. Not that he is aware of what’s going on around him until it’s too late, and breaking the code becomes a matter of life and death. For the genius Matt Bugatti, what he doesn’t know can kill him.

Charles O’Donnell has crafted a techno-thriller with enough elements to satisfy the demands of any fan of the genre: nefarious personalities, spy vs. spy, double dealings, temptation, betrayal, trust, and a plot that moves along at a pretty good clip despite a heavy load of deep computer technology that O’Donnell handles masterfully.

The last time I read what’s now called a techno-thriller was The Hunt for Red October, Tom Clancy’s debut novel. I liked it because I was in the navy and I’m fascinated by surface warfare and submarine technology. Fast-forward 30 years to The Girlfriend Experience. I have no love nor interest for code, software, hardware, or computer science in general, and I have to admit the details O’Donnell includes falls into the ‘skip over’ category of my reading, but that’s just me.

O’Donnell did not sacrifice technology for story, and for that I’m thankful. I am interested in what’s next for Matt Bugatti in Book 2, Moment of Conception. I’m looking forward to finding out.

The Girlfriend Experience, by Charles O’Donnell.

4 stars out of 5.

Available as ebook and paperback.

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Check in every week for Book Review Wednesday. I’m reading and reviewing a book a week throughout 2018. Join me. Authors, if you have a book you would like reviewed, send me an email at joe@josephmarkbrewer.com.

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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.

Book Review Wednesday – Blind River

The book-a-week challenge continues with  Blind River, by Ben Follows.

BlindRiverThe last thing Curtis Mackley wants to do is go home to Blind River. An FBI agent, he chose the Bureau over home many years before. But a knock on his door and a summons from his partner, Frankie Lassiter, sends Mackley to his home town. One by one, local teenage girls have gone missing. The local police have asked the FBI for help.

The crimes are only the tip of the criminal iceberg in Blind River. Mackley and Lassiter’s hunt for the missing teens explodes into one crisis after another — more crimes, bloodshed, and vendettas than one town can endure. Mackley’s personal issues and the grief he finds there complicates what’s already a harrowing investigative experience.

About a third of the way into Blind River I went to its Amazon page to read some of the reviews. I could not believe it had (as of this writing) an average of 4.1 stars — 77 percent of the reviews are either five stars or four.

Blind River is a serial-killer murder mystery and a good yarn, and what appears in between the covers would make for a good movie or television series. But far too many things stand in the way of it being an enjoyable read. Follows shows no firm grasp on language or writing for the purpose of storytelling. There is a sense of the plot moving along scene by scene but it’s done carelessly. His descriptions are flat, and a limited vocabulary makes for lackluster reading. A Canadian, Fellows sets his story in New York but does not use American vernacular. His main character is “a fed” but the author shows no knowledge of titles or job responsibilities, procedural issues, or terminology.

Blind River is a clever whodunit with great twists and surprises, but it seems Fellows offered up what amounts to a first draft, with every typical error and mistake. It makes for very frustrating reading. At some point, I hope he uploads a clean version that addresses the many glaring issues. Blind River is a good story held back by a need for a polished and thoughtful revision.

I am breaking my own rule of never writing a review of less than three stars because clearly, Follows has talent. I want to read more of what he writes. But not if the other works are in the same condition as Blind River.

1.5 stars out of 5.

Available at Amazon as ebook and paperback.

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Check in every week for Book Review Wednesday. I’m reading and reviewing a book a week throughout 2018. Join me. Authors, if you have a book you would like reviewed, send me an email at joe@josephmarkbrewer.com.

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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.

Book Review Wednesday – The Anonymous Source

The read-a-book-a-week challenge continues with A.C. Fuller’s The Anonymous Source, An Alex Vane Media Thriller.

AnonymousSourceA wealthy financier’s death is linked to tragedy surrounding Sept 11, 2001. An unimpressive, nondescript student is charged with the murder of an NYU professor, at one time a student of the financier. A mega-merger threatens to alter the media landscape, a merger fought tooth and nail by an anti-corporate activist with the vision to know that consolidating news organizations is bad for consumers, and losing net neutrality will doom free speech. That she manages to convince the financier to donate an improbably large donation to her watchdog group just weeks before his death seems improbable but this improbable decision is the hinge upon which the story swings to and fro.

A.C. Fuller’s The Anonymous Sources is a thriller that delivers: suspense, excitement, surprise, and an ongoing guessing-game of who is this Anonymous Source pivotal to the story. Alex Vane, the reporter with a nose for news and enough sense to challenge his editors when his editors stonewall, makes friends with Camila Gary, the ex-girlfriend of the murdered professor. The differences in their personalities and outlook, and the demons that fester within them make them an odd pair, but they work well together.

Fuller lays out clues like Hanzel and Gretel’s pebbles and breadcrumbs. Beneath the descriptive passages concerning newsgathering, source verification, the court system, traveling and dining in New York, an international assassin, travel to Hawaii, corrupt cops, New York sports, the tension and ambiguity between Alex and Camila, and the often tedious work of sorting facts and writing news, Fuller manages to keep his whodunit on track. His story moves back and forth in time, revealing small events that add to the greater whole, and the reader can follow the path to where the clues lead. There are just enough surprises to make the book interesting, and the characters relatable enough that I want to read more Alex Vane thrillers.

A.C. Fuller was a journalist and journalism professor before turning to writing thrillers full time. He knows his material. A wire service motto of long ago was ‘get it first, but get it right.’ As someone who still works in the newspaper business, I appreciate that he gets it right.

4 stars out of 5.

Available in all formats everywhere.

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Check in every week for Book Review Wednesday. I’m reading and reviewing a book a week throughout 2018. Join me. Authors, if you have a book you would like reviewed, send me an email at joe@josephmarkbrewer.com.

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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.

Book Review Wednesday – Faceless Killers – A Mystery (Kurt Wallander Mystery Book 1)

The read-a-book-a-week challenge continues with Faceless Killers.

FacelessKillersCoverHenning Mankell’s Faceless Killers brings to life Kurt Wallander, a detective in a small town in the south of Sweden who, on a frozen January morning, comes face to face with the grisly murder of an elderly farm couple.

Beset with his own life in near-shambles, Wallander begins the painstaking process of finding the killers with little more to go on than coincidence and one word, “foreign.”
Mankell weaves a tale filled with examining Sweden’s immigration crisis, elder care, opera, failed marriages, father-daughter estrangements, media antics, all weaved into a tightly written page-turner of a police procedural.

Mankell’s style is simple and head-on. It’s no wonder his Wallander books enjoy such acclaim. Television viewers may recall the PBS Mysteries series picking up the BBC production of the Wallander mysteries, starring Kenneth Branagh. The Swedish production of the series (which I prefer) is available on Netflix.

I told a friend once I had read the books – I lied. I had watched the programs and had every intention of eventually reading the books. Now I have read Book 1. I’m glad I did. I’m hooked. Can’t wait to get started on the next one.

Faceless Killers – A Mystery (Kurt Wallander Mystery Book 1) –  by Henning Mankell

5 stars out of 5.

Available in all formats everywhere.

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Check in every week for Book Review Wednesday. I’m reading and reviewing a book a week throughout 2018. Join me. Authors, if you have a book you would like reviewed, send me an email at joe@josephmarkbrewer.com.

NewAllBooks20184FB

Joseph Mark Brewer writes the Shig Sato mysteries. Mix up some Lieutenant Columbo and Kurt Wallander and you have an interesting new character in Shig 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.

Book Review Wednesday – The Assassin Who Couldn’t Dance

The read-a-book-a-week challenge continues with Glen Barrera’s Assassin Who Couldn’t Dance.

assassincoverThere are some books that are nightstand dust collectors. Some are the type where you read a few pages at a time before going to bed. Or maybe a chapter, a book read on and off over the course of a few months, or a year, or longer.

The Assassin Who Couldn’t Dance is not one of those books. So don’t even try. Be prepared to go all in, stay up all night, keep reading ’til you can’t, then stay up another hour. It’s that good.

Barrera weaves a tale that had many characters, many story lines, lots of locales, people, and most of all, motives. Why? Hidden treasure. Ill-gotten gains. Safe deposit boxes and secret codes. In Arabic. Shady dealings in the 1991 Gulf War result in some bad guys not being able to get their hand on a lot of loot. The good guys are a team of ex-Recon who, one by one, are visited by the bad guys’ goon squad, to get the loot back. But no one knows there’s an Assassin Who Coudn’t Dance out for his own measure of revenge.

Good guy? Bad guy? It’s really that simple, and really that captivating. It is a face-paced yarn that’s definitely a satisfying page-tuner. It has it all: mystery, suspense, intrigue, and a satisfying ending.

Don’t miss out on this fun read.

 

The Assassin Who Couldn’t Dance, by Glen Barrera

4 stars out of 5.

Available in ebook and paperback — just click.

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Check in every week for Book Review Wednesday. I’m reading and reviewing a book a week throughout 2018. Join me. Authors, if you have a book you would like reviewed, send me an email at joe@josephmarkbrewer.com.

NewAllBooks20184FB

Joseph Mark Brewer writes the Shig Sato mysteries. Mix up some Lieutenant Columbo and Kurt Wallander and you have is an interesting new character in Shig 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.

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.

Death in the Night

In The Gangster’s Son, Kimi Yamada is found dead in a Tokyo back alley. The investigation begins – but what about her next of kin? What happens when proud, loving parents find out their child has been murdered? In this chapter, the Yamadas hear the tragic news:

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MYSTERIOUS KNOCKING ENDED Yosh and Miyako Yamada’s summer slumber. Even as they tightened their robes as if to protect themselves from what the two policemen were saying, a slow ballet of shock and grief stirred in their hearts as they tried to comprehend words like “dead” and “Kimi” and “Roppongi” and “a short time ago” and “can you identify the body right away?” Time shifted to a meaningless state, and they took no notice of their actions or their surroundings. The gates of hell had opened beneath them.

Before they realized what they were doing, Kimi Yamada’s parents found themselves driving from their home in the western suburbs through dimly lit, unfamiliar streets, looking for the place where the police said they could find their daughter. Searching kept their minds occupied as an incomprehensible torment squeezed their souls without mercy.

Eventually they found the building they were directed to go to, the building caped in the dark of night, surrounded by harsh streetlights. They parked their modest sedan as close to the shiny glass doors as possible, and it took some time before the couple was aware that a tall man chewing a toothpick was standing by the large glass doors.

As they approached the doors the man opened one and held it open for them as he said, “My name is Kato. I’m a police officer. Please follow me.”

Without saying anything, the Yamadas meekly followed Kato to where the unthinkable would become real.

Continue reading

Sato goes looking for a Marine

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(Sato learns the victim’s ex-boyfriend is a U.S. Marine who is nowhere to be found. Sato knows it can take days to find someone in a city the size of Tokyo. He has a decision to make: go through official channels, or call a Navy investigator he has met in the past. – An excerpt from The Gangster’s Son).

Sato pulled a small leather business card holder from his coat pocket, opened it, and sighed.
His fingers knew almost by intuition which card to pull – Agent Michael Anderson, Navy
Investigative Service, Naval Forces Japan, Yokosuka Navy Base.
Mike Anderson had written his home phone number on the back of the card Sato now held.
At the time, Anderson said, “In case you ever need to call me. Any time, day or night.”
He had said those words four years earlier, when he met Sato on a case involving an
American sailor trying to buy marijuana on Roppongi’s main thoroughfare from another
foreigner the police happened to be tailing. Anderson seemed embarrassed for his countryman, and seemed to apologize for taking Sato away from more important duties.
“Call me if you need anything,” Anderson had repeated, “any time, day or night. This is my home number.”
Sato never did, not even the second time, when an American sailor was the cause of a
serious disturbance at a Roppongi nightclub that did not appreciate the presence of any
Westerners. That time, Anderson said he appreciated how Sato handled the case, keeping the sailor out of a Japanese jail cell, and repeated the offer: if there was ever anything he could do, just call.
Sato never understood the easy American attitude, “just call.” He preferred to keep police matters official. It was always much easier that way, in the long run. But that early Saturday morning, with a young woman dead and her GI boyfriend missing, Sato knew he had to do what Anderson said.
Just call.
He stared at the number.
Official channels would undoubtedly take too long.
Sato sighed, and dialed the number.
The sharp double ring of his bedside telephone blasted Mike Anderson into the here and
now. Before his mind caught up with his reflexes, he was sitting up, placing the phone to his ear, and saying “Hello?” It was not that he was still asleep; it was that he had never once in his time in Japan had his home telephone ring at 2 a.m.
But years of waking up alert and ready did not prepare him for what he was about to hear.
“Agent Anderson, this is Inspector Sato of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police. I am sorry to
bother you at this hour. I am investigating a murder. And I am looking for a Marine.”
Sato? Murder? Marine?
Anderson could not have been more surprised if Jesus Christ himself was on the phone.
“What can I do for you, Inspector?” Mike Anderson’s image of Sato quickly came to mind: competent, commanding bearing, but at that moment, unable to recall the last time he had spoken him. Anderson, a former Marine, was solid and squat as a fire hydrant, with a blond brush cut, deep-set blue eyes, and a low rumble for a voice.
“I know this should go through official channels,” Sato said, “but I need to talk to a Marine, a Lance Corporal Charlie Jones. I interviewed two other Marines who came up here. I let them return to their rooms at the Sanno. I don’t think I’m going to need to talk to them again, but this Jones was the victim’s boyfriend. Or former boyfriend. I need to find him.”
“A murder?” Anderson’s mind was slowly catching up to reality. While he listened to Sato, he turned on the light by his bed, found pants thrown over a chair, and tugged them on.
“Yes.”
“Do you know what unit he’s attached to?”
“The other Marines said the flagship.”
“Ah. Blue Ridge. And you said those Marines are on liberty? They aren’t AWOL or
something?”
Unsure of what Anderson meant, Sato said, “They are at the Sanno right now.”
“Okay.” Bending over a dresser drawer, fishing out socks and tugging them on, Anderson
said, “If they’re at the Sanno then they’re probably on liberty. I’m going to call the Officer of the Day and the Shore Patrol, get them looking for Jones, whoever he is. You think this Marine did it?”
Sato hesitated. “We have some clues to follow up on. But Jones left the scene. I’m not sure how it all fits together. I need to talk to him.”
“Damn little to go on there,” Anderson thought to himself as he tied his shoes. What would he tell the Marines? The base people? The admiral?
“Can you give me any idea what I’m dealing with here?” he asked.
“We’ve just begun the case,” Sato said. “We’re talking to everyone. Putting things together. It’s all preliminary. But I need to talk to that Marine.”
“Understood.”
Feeling more confident now that he was dressed, Anderson said, “I’ll call you the minute we find Jones. Charlie Jones, right? Flagship, right?”
Sato only knew what he had been told by Johnson and Ballard, so he said, “The other GIs
are called Johnson and Ballard. Both … black Americans.”
“Got it. Give me your number.”
Sato recited the station’s main number with scant hope of hearing from Anderson anytime soon, but now he was hours ahead of anything headquarters could do. With so many GIs in Tokyo, Sato calculated finding one would take at least one day, maybe two.
“Thanks for calling, Shig,” Anderson said.
“Thank you. Good-bye.”
Anderson stared at the phone, then sat back on the bed, replaying the conversation in his head.
“A Japanese cop calls in the middle of the night, needs to talk to a Marine. Pronto.”
Anderson thought this over. He knew Sato. He knew this was no quid pro quo, no “you help me, I help you.” Anderson had been an agent for fifteen years. His dad was a cop. Anderson knew all about trading favors. Japanese cops did not trade favors.
Anderson believed that what had just happened was something called on — at least, that was what he had read in some books before he came over. He had to be told it was pronounced own, like owning something, and sometimes it was called gimu, or giri. But he knew it meant obligation. Or duty. All the Japanese had it, and the sense of doing right by it, of being in someone’s debt for a kindness or a service. He knew it pervaded the whole country.
Anderson recalled that from the time a Japanese person is old enough to make sense of the world, this obligation ruled his life. It affected everything. He knew no Japanese person willingly brought on any more obligation than they had to, because they knew at some point, it had to be repaid. No favor was too big. No request was too small. It had to be repaid.
And Sato calling him in the middle of the night? Looking for a Marine? That had to be some big giri.
For the hundredth time since arriving in Japan, Anderson realized he would never make
sense of the Japanese.

To download a copy of my ebook mystery The Gangster’s Son click here,  and for a bonus novella, just click here.