Review of The Last Train by Michael Pronko

June 12, 2017

review the last train michael pronkoI must admit that I am very happy when authors ask me to review their masterpieces. Behold, this is just the case in which I reviewed a real, great, unforgettable and extraordinary novel. Although I do book promotion, it does not always happen that I read so well written novels (beware: I am not saying this because I am doing book promotion, but because it is the truth). Well, after introducing this my first opinion, I highly recommend to read this book titled The Last Train , a mystery novel written by Michael Pronko. The author is an acclaimed American writer who teaches English in Tokyo, the underground, multicultural and mysterious city where the novel is set.

Through this novel, I understood many secrets and things of our modern world. The Japanese city of the book is underground and gloomy, it is a city under the hurry of people who must take a train to go to work. The Last Train brings us to Tokyo of the white collars, businessmen, entrepreneurs and wealthy people who strangely commit suicide just on the platform of the train, at the main station in Tokyo.

These people live only to get rich, make money and never have spare time to look their loved ones in the eyes, not even the main character of the book, namely detective Hiroshi Shimizu, a perfect combination between a skilled policeman who lived and worked in the United States and with an excellent English and a modern Japanese who is summoned at the office of his boss Takamatsu in Tokyo to investigate about the death of a foreign businessman called Steven. The latter was found dead under the train, maybe killed by a woman or maybe not, maybe one of the many foreign men who committed suicide in Tokyo. The alleged murderer could be a black hair Japanese girl called Michiko, a character who captured my attention along with the one of Hiroshi.

Michiko is the rich daughter of the rich owner of a Japanese factory. One day, the father of this female character dies because of a car accident. He was hit by a run car driver. From this stage, the novel suggests and inspires many questions to readers. Could Michiko kills many businessmen to revenge the death of her father? Or there is another inner and hidden reason who pushes wealthy men to suicide at the station while the train is running at a high speed? I was really impressed by the descriptions of the book, from the first to the last page, from the first pages in which the slaughtered corpse of the first victim Steven is wrapped in a bag by the Japanese policemen, up to the  funeral of the same foreign businessman, where also the character of Michiko appears while she is praying in front of the Japanese shrine where secrets, lies and truth are together to veil corruption and lust.

I was also greatly impressed by the high capacity to depict a perfect modern and underground Japanese environment, that, at last, is the same background of our modern civilization. Tokyo is immersed in a game of glitters and spotlights where high heeled teenagers ( with fake eyelashes) give leaflets to passengers, at the station, outside the restaurants, where everything is made only to be sold, without emotion and meaning. Under the dimness, instead, inside night clubs, twisted and bored businessmen pay a high amount of money to be urinated by naked and sensual cubists.

The investigation of Hiroshi and his boss Takamatsu also concerns these perverse clubs to look for the killer of the dead businessman. After the missing of Takamatsu, Hiroshi is more and more involved in an intricate, upsetting and expensive market of real estate, where the boundaries between suicide and homicide are too blurred to be easily disentangled. Yes, The Last Train is a great mystery novel and the Japanese character is an excellent Asian version of Sherlock Holmes. The novel is highly recommended and suitable for translation into Italian. The style of writing is excellent because the author is an English teacher who was able to describe and create living characters and a real and modern environment. The skyscrapers and apartments in Tokyo the author described are not only this, but a superb dizziness of great literature. My vote is five stars. Impossible to give less.

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