Barry Lancet has created a fast paced mystery in his second novel, Tokyo Kill. His familiarity with Japanese culture and history allow him to paint a vivid landscape across which he deftly moves his characters in a complex, twisty thriller.
Lancet joins a group of authors who, in my opinion, describe their locations so precisely that they become travelogue-esque. If you have visited Tokyo before, the novel will call the city clearly to mind. If you have not visited Tokyo, Lancet’s portrayal will make you yearn to go.
Tokyo Kills takes the reader on a comprehensive journey through Tokyo, from humble neighborhoods to lavish resorts.
Described as a “youth magnet,” Kōenji is a bedroom community named after old temples located within the Suginami ward. Like popular student habitués around the world, the area is filled with casual dining options, a suburban version of underground culture, and used clothing & music stores. Kōenji is reported to be the home of the punk rock music in Tokyo, and the pulsing music can still be heard in the clubs.
Restaurants and food stands vie for space among the shops. Traditional selections include yakitori eateries, which grill-to-order over charcoal fires. Originally, yakitori referred only to skewered chicken meat, but now the term has expanded to include such non-poultry delights as pork belly, beef tongue, mushroom and tofu.
Far more upscale locations are waiting to inspire the armchair traveler. The luxury Hotel Chinzanso featured as a meeting place in Tokyo Kill, is known for its fabulous gardens filled with historic artifacts. The gardens are built in the Kaiyuu style, which usually feature green grasslands, a pond, a Tsukiyama (earth molded to look like a small mountain) and winding rivers.
Lancet also includes well known, popular attractions in his novel. A visit to Uenzo Zoo brings the famous pandas and pygmy hippos into the story. The Ueno Zoological Garden is the oldest zoo in Japan, and the flagship of all the zoos in the country. Founded in 1882, it has expanded to encompass over 35 acres which are home to 26,000 animals. In 1972, the first giant pandas arrived from China.
Even a touristy cruise along the Sumibo River, with their ubiquitous views of the Tokyo Sky Tree, the tallest tower in the world, makes an appearance.
More world destinations, such as those found in China; Miami, Florida, and the Caribbean make Tokyo Kill an armchair traveler delight.
Hotel Chinzanso http://www.hotel-chinzanso-tokyo.com/
Tokyo Sky Tree http://www.tokyo-skytree.jp/en/
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