Wednesday, June 15, 2016

BOOKLOG 55: The Highwayman

A Longmire Mystery
by Craig Johnson

As always, Craig Johnson’s Longmire series, mixing up elements of mystery, paranormal, modern-day western, and even soap opera (here and there, not much, don’t worry), comes through once again with this book. In The Highwayman, local legends come into play, specifically ghost stories. Like all good ghost stories, there’s a grain of truth in the one that is the central story here. Once more, Johnson brings us into the Wyoming world of Walt Longmire, this time introducing us to the local state police who keep the roads safe, and tracking down those who choose to abuse them. Central to our story this time are even those who have died keeping them safe—who are rumored to still do so, even after their deaths. What’s going on? There’s also a rumor about gold coins that were stolen long ago, but they’re showing up near a site where a particular highway patrolman met his death. Was he involved? Did he know something about them? Walt Longmire has to find out.

I have long recommended these books by Craig Johnson, and this latest one just proves once again to me there’s good reason.

Coming up: The Book of Yokai!

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

BOOKLOG 54: Sayonara Slam

Booklog 54: SAYONARA SLAM: A Mas Arai Mystery
by Naomi Hirahara

You may or may not remember my writing about Mas Arai, the elderly Hiroshima survivor/gardener/amateur detective, whose English is none too good (but then neither is his Japanese), but who nevertheless manages to solve many a puzzling crime. Anyway, just to refresh your memory, he’s an elderly Hir…okay, now you remember. Sort of. Seriously, Mas is a kibei, a Japanese-American, born in the US but educated in Japan, in his case caught in Japan during World War II. This is Hirahara’s sixth mystery with Mas, this one concerned with a suspicious death in Dodger Stadium during the World Baseball Classic, Japan versus Korea, during which Mas, who has a unique perspective since his son-in-law is the head of the gardening staff there, discovers that the death was murder…and the story begins.

As always, Hirahara has done her research to build memorable subplots, in this case using a little-remembered historical fact about an American POW ship that brought Japanese-Americans and Japanese-Peruvians (kidnapped from Peru, in fact) to a prearranged location during World War II to exchange for Allied POWs. The fact that the Japanese-Americans and Japanese-Peruvians weren’t spies and had nothing to do with the war didn’t matter. Then there was all the great detail about knuckleball pitchers (I’m a Seattleite, and remember Phil Niekro, knuckleballer extraordinaire, fondly), and the master/apprentice relationship in Japanese culture/baseball, and how Korea fits into Japan’s modern history, all explored. And Mas finally being forced to acknowledge that yes, he has a girlfriend.

My only complaint about this book, in fact, was the editing: where was it? Tenses jumped all the time, POV changed for two sentences out of the blue, and typoes that suggested that there was a step left out (when one reads that someone’s “interest was peaked,” you know that editing was uncertain). Fortunately, I could skip it because, after all, it’s Mas.

Coming up: Hm. I know!