My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I wasn't sure what I was expecting but it wasn't quite this. I wanted to try reading something other than American and British mysteries (and the Scandinavian ones just aren't cutting it for me) so I got this one from Japan (I read a ton of manga so why not try out some actual novels). It's a 3.5 read for the most part and it's definitely better translated than a lot of the light novels that accompany manga (i.e. they didn't just translate it, they made sure it read smoothly in English).
There are two story lines that dove tail in this. One concerns three young women who died in quick succession of apparent suicides or accidents, the last one running out in front of the main character's uncle's taxi. Mamoru has had a rough life. His father stole a bunch of company money and disappeared with Mamoru was so young he can't even remember what he looks like, leaving his mother and him to bare the shame (and in Japan the idea that a bad father equals bad kids is even more ingrained than here). More than a decade later Mamoru is still picked on in school because of it even though he now lives in the Tokyo area with his aunt and uncle who changed his surname (after his mother's death).
Mamoru's uncle is detained in jail for days because he hit her and no one could prove the light was green and she ran out in the road which surprised me giving how techie Japan is until it hit me to go look at the copyright date on this. Yeah, this was printed in 1989 so no street cams and later, one of the big twists is so caught up in the fears of subliminal advertising that people had in the 70s and 80s (honest fears it could make you do things against your will. I remember that from my childhood).
Anyhow as Mamoru tries to find somehow to prove his uncle's innocence, he is drawn into this web, finding out that this girl was friends with the other two girls who have died and that they were involved in a scam, girlfriend for hire where they take the men for all they're worth. But how could they be made to kill themselves? Mamoru attempts to learn this with the aid of his boss at the bookstore he works in (one of the people who doesn't ostracize him due to his father) and the skills he learned from Gramps. There isn't a lock that can stand up to him.
Mamoru is a sympathetic character and the mystery is interesting if a bit slow in the beginning. The ending is a bit of a morality play. I did like this.
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Run for Your Life by James Patterson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is the second in this series I've tried and it was better than the first if you ignore the pure Hollywood craptacular ending (seriously it felt like Patterson & Ledwidge sat there thinking bet they make a movie of this so let's give it an action film ending. One star all the way). I've been reading this out of order and didn't realize this was #2. Maybe if I had read the first it would make more sense but it seems odd, knowing what little I do about adoption that anyone would allow for ten kids to be adopted by a single income family especially when the Dad is going to be gone all the time. Honestly I don't find his family to be distracting and not really adding much to this other than enforcing gender stereotypes (not to mention Catholic ones as he leaves the care of his kids to the uber Irish Catholic Mary). Especially in this one as they all have the stomach flu and we get endless descriptions of where they've puked and how often.
The serial killer in this, the Teacher, is interesting, killing people who service the rich (and are snotty as they do it) to 'teach' them a lesson. His motivation is weak but at least the mystery is interesting IF you ignore the fact that this all opened with a hostage negotiation where the criminal was killed by a sniper and the police (including Bennet) were blamed. And we never hear about this again, never figure out who that sniper is. In fact the only time we hear about this is all the protests cropping up everywhere including in front of Bennet's house (really? He's not even worried about this) so his kids can tell the protestors they're poopy heads or some nonsense.
I think I'm done with this series. It's not for me. Too bad since I really liked the Alex Cross series.
And a spoiler of a sorts for the ending (look away now if you don't want to know). Shooting their way onto an air field (with Bennet as hostage) then stealing a small plane and flying all over NYC with the intent of crashing it into some rich person's place and them fighting in the cockpit before ditching in the river and Bennet somehow not dying. Head desk.
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