Azabu Getaway Cover

What happens when you must investigate an awful crime during a pandemic time?

With Azabu Getaway, the new mystery novel by Michael Pronko, the main character, Japanese detective Hiroshi Shimizu deals with a double homicide occurred just in our current pandemic time.

Like the previous detective Hiroshi mystery novels, this new story is set in Tokyo, where the author teaches American Literature.

What makes this novel remarkable, original and intriguing is the fact that nobody mentions the name of the pandemic virus, but only the tools people have been using for over two years to protect themselves from the contagion.

And here is the Japanese life described in the novel moves through sanitizers and face masks, even amid the crime scene, where you find three victims: the powerful head CEO of a likewise powerful financial company (with ties with Japan, China and the United States), a grandmother and the guy who looked after her two little granddaughters. 

The CEO and the woman die, while the boy ends up bruised and hospitalized.

What is the link among these seemingly mismatched crimes? This is the question which keeps you glued to the story, from the first to the last page.

The pace is fast, with compelling dialogues and a scenery placed in Azabu, the residential district of Tokyo, where anonymous investors move big amounts of money overseas, on behalf of influential and wealthy customers.

There, money is the life blood of people and things, but through a fictional tale, readers are also transported to the middle of the Japanese culture and tradition, obtaining an overview about its most innovative and common customs, amid cryptocurrency, anime and manga, and a pervasive porn industry, which has Japan as its main center of power.

Indeed, there are not only the restaurants where you can eat sushi and tofu, in the novel, but also the private life of Japanese families, where marriage and divorces are becoming international by now, such as the one between American Patrick and Japanese Miyuki.

These two characters – he is a financial advisor who escapes with his little girls, she is a bank account manager and mother of the two abducted daughters – give you a large glimpse about how wealthy people consider and perceive their feelings in this world spoiled by personal interests and secretive personalities.

The story runs on the frail line of human ambiguity, where appearance never coincides with the real intentions.

Nobody seems to be sincere and authentic, in this story, but, above all, nobody trusts nobody. The suspect invades people like a virus, making the investigation of detective Hiroshi and his team more and more intriguing. Betrayal is always around the corner, and an apparent innocence could veil a fault.

Although the pandemic background, in fact, the story, with its captivating twists and brilliant insights, chases a sort of normality, where you don’t fear the virus anymore, but the loss of your own wellness, here meant as your financial condition or money possession.

For those who inhabit this world, it is still money which is worth saving and protecting, not your health or life.

In the murky financial zones of Tokyo, money is, in fact, the absolute evil, the main cause of crimes and tragedies.

Readers, hence, along with detective Hiroshi Shimizu, will have to unravel a world of liars and murders, trying to save the true value which really matters: the love for your own family and for this new gripping mystery novel.

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