ScienceThrillers.com book review of Pacific Burn by Barry Lancet.
Tech rating (out of 5): N/A
Publication date: February 9, 2016
Category: international action thriller/mystery
Summary (from the publisher):
Japanese antiques dealer and PI Jim Brodie goes up against the CIA, FBI, Department of Homeland Security—and a killer operating on both sides of the Pacific.
In recognition for his role in solving the Japantown murders in San Francisco, antiques dealer and sometime-PI Jim Brodie has just been brought on as the liaison for the mayor’s new Pacific Rim Friendship Program. Brodie in turn recruits his friend, the renowned Japanese artist Ken Nobuki, and after a promising meeting with city officials and a picture-perfect photo op, Brodie and Nobuki leave City Hall for a waiting limo.
But as soon as they exit the building, a sniper attacks them from the roof of the Asian Art Museum. Quick thinking allows Brodie to escape, but Nobuki ends up hospitalized and in a coma. Brodie soon realizes that, with the suspicious and untimely death of Nobuki’s oldest son a week earlier in Napa Valley, someone may be targeting his friend’s family—and killing them off one by one.
Suspects are nearly too numerous to name—and could be in the United States or anywhere along the Pacific Rim. The quest for answers takes Brodie from his beloved San Francisco to Washington, DC, in a confrontation with the DHS, the CIA, and the FBI; then on to Tokyo, Kyoto, and beyond, in search of what his Japanese sources tell him is a legendary killer in both senses of the word—said to be more rumor than real, but deadlier than anything else they’ve ever encountered if the whispers are true.
Barry Lancet delivers again in Pacific Burn, book #3 of the Jim Brodie series that began with his award-winning debut Japantown. This time, Brodie’s connections in the art world entangle him in a web of violence on both sides of the Pacific when members of a famed ceramicist’s family are being murdered one by one. The killer is Japan’s most secretive, legendary assassin: The Shadow Walker, a legend born amid the hot, fuming vents of a volcano near Japan’s Pompeii.
What sets Pacific Burn and the other Brodie thrillers apart from other well-written suspense/action novels on the market is the Japanese flavor. Author Barry Lancet is an American who has lived in Japan for decades. His intimate personal knowledge of the history, language, culture, geography, and especially the art of Japan suffuses the book. As usual, Lancet includes several scenes that Japanophiles will salivate over. In this installment, readers visit a cosplay convention and manga museum, a temple, a bamboo forest, an active volcano, and of course several different types of Japanese restaurants, including a terrific scene involving fugu, the poisonous pufferfish. In Tokyo Kill, I learned about the history of samurai swords. In this volume, there’s an introduction to the art of Japanese tea bowls. Brodie’s life, and the murders in this story, are also anchored in the San Francisco area, and we’re treated to a couple of scenes in Napa.
The Jim Brodie character remains a reluctant hero, trying to hold together a dual life as a dealer in rarified Japanese art and head of a Tokyo-based security agency while raising a young daughter alone. (Brodie is a widower, a plot line you can follow in Japantown.) His extraordinary prowess with martial arts combined with street fighting techniques is brilliantly described by Lancet in his fight scenes, which walk the line between superheroism and human frailty.
If you enjoyed Japantown or Tokyo Kill, you’ll be pleased to see that the quality continues with Pacific Burn. If you’re a thriller fan who hasn’t read Lancet’s series, get on board. You can read the books in any order because they are stand-alones, though you might want to start with #1 (Japantown). Heck, get all three books because binge-reading is likely!