The Moving Blade (Detective Hiroshi, Book 2) by Michael Pronko

 Release date: September 30, 2018
Subgenre: International mystery, Japanese mystery

About The Moving Blade:

When the top American diplomat in Tokyo, Bernard Mattson, is killed, he leaves more than a lifetime of successful Japan-American negotiations. He leaves a missing manuscript, boxes of research, a lost keynote speech and a tangled web of relations.

When his alluring daughter, Jamie, returns from America wanting answers, finding only threats, Detective Hiroshi Shimizu is dragged from the safe confines of his office into the street-level realities of Pacific Rim politics.

With help from ex-sumo wrestler Sakaguchi, Hiroshi searches for the killer from back alley bars to government offices, through anti-nuke protests to military conspiracies. When two more bodies turn up, Hiroshi must choose between desire and duty, violence or procedure, before the killer silences his next victim.

THE MOVING BLADE is the second in the Tokyo-based Detective Hiroshi series by award-winning author Michael Pronko.


Hideyasu Sato rarely took jobs involving foreigners. They usually lived in tall apartment buildings, kept little cash and had bad taste in valuables. But this job was pitched as an easy in-and-out with good pay and a light load.

Getting into the house was, as always in Tokyo, a cinch. He slid a small tension wrench into the keyhole of the kitchen delivery door, levered it up, poked in a rake pick, and after a few tickles, the lock plug spun loose and he was in.
The homeowner had just died, so Sato timed the break-in during the funeral—the best time to rob anyone in Tokyo. After the long ceremony, cremation took an hour or so, depending. Since the owner was famous—Bernard Mattson was a name even Sato knew—the post-funeral chitchat by bigwigs would give him a further cushion.
Sato left his shoes by the door and stepped into the stately, old house in the Asakusa shitamachi “lower town” district of eastern Tokyo. The kitchen had surprisingly few modern appliances and looked a little like he remembered his grandmother’s in the countryside—spacious, simple, functional.
Walking into the living area, Sato admired the exquisite wood beams and intricate wood paneling. A tatami-floored room in Japanese style, empty save for a scroll, statue and vase, opened to the right. The main living room was Western style, with parquet floors that were wide and open, with a sofa, chairs, tree-trunk table and Japanese antiques.
Sato found the bookcase-lined study, and sat down at the computer to copy the two files he’d been hired to retrieve: “SOFA and Shunga. It would be easy to download the files to two USB drives and erase the computer before carrying the drives across town, but the computer was old and slow, the fan whirling loudly as he downloaded the files. All around him, the wood frame house creaked like an old man’s bones.
When hed downloaded one file on each of two separate USB drives, Sato could not help but look around, impressed at the offset shelves, paulownia tansu chests, and bamboo-sleeved pot hook dangling from the ceiling. His grandmother had cooked with one of those. Many things in the room could be resold, but from the long shelves along the wall, he pocketed four easy-to-carry netsuke carvings: a smiling frog, a tanuki raccoon-dog, and two of couples locked in sexual embrace. The netsuke were like ivory diamonds— compact and easy to sell.
On the way out, Sato surveyed the kitchen. It was hard to guess where a foreigner would tuck away cash, if at all, but he went with instincts honed by years of breaking in Japanese homes. Inside an old tea cabinet, he found a cherry-bark box with a false bottom concealing a thick wad of ten thousand yen notes.
Not so different, Sato chuckled to himself as he stuffed the money in his pocket next to the netsuke and USB drives. He slipped on his shoes, closed the door, exited through the garden and walked away as if he had lived in the neighborhood all his life.
It wasn't until he was changing trains in Ueno that he noticed the foreigner.

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About Michael Pronko:

Michael Pronko is a Tokyo-based author who writes in three genres—murder, memoir and music. The compelling, character-driven mysteries in his Detective Hiroshi series, set in Tokyo, have won critic’s awards and five-star reviews. Three collections of writings about Tokyo life, all award-winning, were taken from his popular column in Newsweek Japan. Kirkus Reviews called the third collection, “An elegantly written, precisely observed portrait of a Japanese city and its culture." Michael also runs the site, Jazz in Japan, reviewing, interviewing and pondering the meaning of the vibrant jazz scene in Tokyo and Yokohama.

Michael studied philosophy as an undergrad before taking off to travel for several years. After more traveling, more degrees, and several years teaching in China, Michael settled in Tokyo as a professor of American Literature at Meiji Gakuin University. He teaches classes on contemporary American novels, film adaptations, music and art. He has written regular columns for: The Japan Times, Newsweek Japan, Jazznin, and Artscape Japan, amongst others. He lives in western Tokyo with his wife and his Japanese garden.

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