A femme fatale asks mystery buff and amateur sleuth Ken Tanaka to take on a case for her--which he does on a lark--but he soon finds himself involved in a murder in Los Angeles's Little Tokyo.
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The contrived premise for Furutani's first novel is that fortysomething, unemployed Ken Tanaka--a dedicated member of the L.A. Mystery Club--sets himself up as a make-believe private-eye (even renting an office, printing business cards, etc.) as part of a mystery-weekend game he's planning. Naturally, a passerby mistakes him for the real thing. She's blond bombshell Rita Newly, who hires eager, dumb Ken to pick up a package (embarrassing photos, supposedly) from a blackmailing Japanese businessman named Matsuda. Ken gets the package--which contains valuable papers, not photos; Matsuda gets gruesomely murdered. So Ken, a suspect, goes sleuthing, trying to locate the Little Tokyo stripper who was Matsuda's final date while tangling with some violent mobsters (who want the package). It would take tremendous style and atmosphere, of course, to transform this familiar, short-story-ish plot into a satisfying novel. Unfortunately, while charmless narrator Ken occasionally strains for humor, the filler here (except for a few persuasive glimpses into the Japanese-American community) is consistently unengaging: earnest exchanges between Ken and girlfriend Mariko, a recovering alcoholic; Mariko's first speech at an AA meeting; and bland musings on everything from anti-Asian racism and Kurosawa movies to Buddhist carnivals and Japanese woodblocks. A wobbly debut. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
Furutani gives a short course on Japanese-American culture on the West Coast in this pedantic, occasionally poetic debut. Unemployed computer programmer Ken Tanaka rents an office and fixes it up to look like a detective's office in order to host an L.A. Mystery Club weekend. When a woman comes in to hire him, he goes along, believing her to be a participant playing a joke. After she leaves and he realizes she wasn't role-playing, he feels obligated to retrieve the package she paid him to get. He picks up the package from international businessman Susumu Matsuda and gives it to his girlfriend, Mariko, for safekeeping. However, Matsuda is soon hacked to death, and Ken fleetingly becomes a suspect. Despite repeated cautions by Mariko and the insensitive detective in charge, Ken, who solves Mystery Club puzzles faster than other members, determines to find out why the man was killed and by whom. But once he is beaten up by Japanese gangsters, it becomes clear that real crime is less organized and more complicated than the game variety. Furutani packs so much history of the Japanese in America and mentions their current social problems so frequently that the mystery in this slim novel seems an afterthought.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description St. Martin's Press, New York, 1996. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. First edition first printing of the first novel by this author and first novel in the Ken Tanaka series. SIGNED and rubber stamped by the author on the title page. In fine / fine unread condition. Language: eng. Signed by Author(s). Bookseller Inventory # 15556
Book Description St Martins Pr, 1996. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0312145802
Book Description St Martins Pr, 1996. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110312145802
Book Description St Martins Pr. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0312145802 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW7.1021249