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Monday 27 June 2022

‘The Wrong Goodbye’ by Toshihiko Yahagi

Translated from the Japanese by
Alfred Birnbaum.
Published by Macehose Press,
2 September 2021.
ISBN:978-1-52940-097-7 (HB)

Modern Japan, and going home at 2am from a long, boring shift, Detective Eiji Futamura of Kanagawa Prefectural Police meets Billy Lou Bonny, a drunk American pilot from the Yokosuka Navy Base. He soon realised his new friend is implicated in his next homicide case, a frozen corpse washed up in the bay.

This fantastic noir homage to Chandler has all his hallmark traits: a detective who cares about ordinary people, isn’t impressed by authority, and operates best with a glass in his hand; the dark streets and seedy businesses; the large cast of suspects and informants. There’s Billy Lou, the amiable drunk GI who isn’t as straightforward as he seems; there’s triad tycoon Yang, whose gooons seem to be tailing Futamura; Orimasa, best–selling author whose autobiographical novel of his part in the Vietnam war is being turned into a movie; Chris Ackerman, whose companies keep mysteriously disappearing. Futamura himself is attracted to the client he’s moonlighting for while he’s suspended, beautiful concert violinist Aileen Hus, a ‘boat people’ orphan whose mother has gone missing, and his journalist friend Tomodo is following a story about land deals.

There are twists and action a-plenty in an atmospherically-described world where immigrants and Japanese meet in the shadow of the US base, and Yahagi ties all the threads together in a wonderfully clever finish.

This is the blackest, most convoluted noir, with a classic detective and a world which lingers in your head long after you’ve finished reading.

Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

Toshihiko Yahagi is an artist turned novelist, now Japan's premier writer of intellectual noir and political satire. The Wrong Goodbye, featuring Detective Futamura, is his first work to be translated into English.

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

 Click on the title to read a review of her recent book
A Shetland Winter Mystery

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