A notorious bullfighter demands a change in the world of Spain’s bullfighting. He realizes that the younger generation is more caring about animals and that the bloodshed of animals in the industry must stop if it is to survive. This controversial topic brings about a dark and twisted story. Meanwhile, a story about the dark web emerges. A Spanish detective is solving a difficult case that leaves many unanswered questions. The author ties the two stories together with friendship, love, and culture. It is a beautifully written and cultured book that makes you fall in love with the city of Rhonda in Spain and all it has to offer.
Darkness in Rhonda was incredibly eye opening and intriguing as it tells the story of a Spanish detective named Leon Prado and his lifelong friend Juan Romero. Paul S. Bradley begins the tale with a backstory of the gentlemen when they were young and how their families merged. The story then switches to present day in the beautiful, historical city of Rhonda, Spain. As the author tells the story of what is happening, he does a remarkable job of explaining in detail how to bullfight and I felt as if I was staring the bull in the eye myself. You can imagine the bull’s horns nearly colliding with your ribs and the way the bullfighter must dance about to avoid being mauled by the beast. At the same time, the author beautifully captures the essence of the culture, going into detail about the Spanish wine, crusty bread, Spanish cheese and most importantly, the meat industry in Spain.
The story brings in many characters and at first it is difficult to stay on track but as you read, you get to understand who each character is and the important role each of them play. Alongside Pedro and Juan are business partners and family friends named Phillip and Amanda and their story becomes truly captivating. Each character is narrated in detail and you can imagine them in their finest outfits perfectly described. The author does a great job creating characters that are complex, yet relatable. The story line was surprisingly easy to follow for having no background about Spanish culture or Spain as the reader. The author has created an enthralling plot including love, tragedy, mystery, and friendship. Darkness in Rhonda is the second book in the Andalusian Mystery Series and truly captures a gorgeously historical city and makes you feel as if you are there yourself, taking part in the beautiful Spanish history.
Pages: 261 | ASIN: B07PF8BJ5Y
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In Tokyo Traffic detective Hiroshi is once again called in, to solve a crime that involves human trafficking and crypto-currency scamming. Did you know what criminal themes you were going to use for this novel or did they develop while writing?
The theme was there from the beginning, but only in an abstract way. The concrete actions and decisions of the characters, along with the motivations and results, shaped the themes and made it something to see and touch and feel. The interesting part is how they develop inside the characters. As those broad themes became embodied in the characters, they came alive.
At first the theme of human trafficking threatened to swamp the whole story. It’s too big and too horrible. The more I thought about it, the more I wondered how can they get away with that? How can something so vicious and inhumane just keep going? And who’s “they”? Part of the answer is cryptocurrency. Follow the money to where theme meets characters. Some people will cast aside all human feeling for money, and cryptocurrency makes that easier. Its hidden, digital, clean. Of course, the way of the future will probably be all kinds of digital currencies, but the downside is how people use that illicitly, and for such terrible purposes.
This being book three in your series was there anything new you wanted to introduce into Hiroshi’s character?
He moves in with his girlfriend and works at being with her and not sleeping in his office on a pull-out futon. That’s hard work for him. Overall, Hiroshi gets a bit more of his footing in this novel. His skill set is limited, so he bumps against his own limitations, but he learns to pay attention to what he stumbles onto, what he suspects but isn’t sure of, and what others tell him. An intuitive accountant may sound like a contradiction, but aren’t we all some kind of contradiction? We all have that internal division between our different sides.
What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this book?
This one took me a lot longer to finish than the second one. The tricky part was having three main characters. Before I’d always just focused on two. Adding that third one made the story exponentially harder to keep track of. Braiding the three threads of the bad guy, the victim and the detective, plus the people on their side, was tricky. It was like passing a point-of-view baton. The race kept going as each character carried it a bit further. But to me, that’s very Tokyo-like, different kinds of stories flung together.
It was also a challenge to have two young women as main characters. Sukanya doesn’t know Tokyo at all and Chiho knows Tokyo all too well. So, those two different young women and their different views of Tokyo were hard to get right. But I felt their point of view was important. They see the city so differently than I do, but that’s the interesting part. I’m not sure I set those as challenges for myself, writing is enough of a challenge in and of itself, but those became the challenges to tell the story the way I wanted to.
Does Tokyo Traffic end the story for detective Hiroshi or do you have other novels planned?
I have two more in the Hiroshi series already outlined. The one I’m working on right now is titled Tokyo Overtime. It’s about the pressures of the workplace. What other country in the world has a word, karoshi, for death from overwork? After that, I’m planning to write about the whole fish industry, which is very big business in Japan. Two years ago, one of the owners of a sushi chain restaurant paid the equivalent of three million dollars for a single six-hundred-pound bluefin tuna! After that, I have notes for a standalone with sumo wrestler-turned-detective Sakaguchi and Detective Takamatsu is ripe for a prequel about his early, rough days. So, I’ll see where those lead. I’m looking forward to finding out.
Running from a life she didn’t choose, in a city she doesn’t know Sukanya, a young Thai girl, loses herself in the vastness of Tokyo. With her Bangkok street smarts, and some stolen money, she stays ahead of her former captors who will do anything to recover the computer she took. After befriending Chiho, a Japanese girl living in an internet café, Sukanya makes plans to rid herself of her pursuers, and her past, forever.
In Tokyo, street smarts aren’t always enough
Meanwhile, Detective Hiroshi Shimizu leaves the safe confines of his office to investigate a porn studio where a brutal triple murder took place. The studio’s accounts point him in multiple directions at once. Together with ex-sumo wrestler Sakaguchi and old-school Takamatsu, Hiroshi tracks the killers through Tokyo’s music clubs and teen hangouts, bayside docks and byways, straight into the underbelly of the global economy.
As bodies wash up from Tokyo Bay, Hiroshi tries to find the Thai girl at the center of it all, whose name he doesn’t even know. He uncovers a human trafficking ring and cryptocurrency scammers whose connections extend to the highest levels of Tokyo’s power elite.
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When bodies start to pop up in Tokyo bay detective Hiroshi is one again called in to solve the horrible case and put together the pieces to a perplexing crime that involves the grim underworld of human trafficking and crypto-currency scamming.
Pronko’s characters are always something I look forward to. This being the third book in the Detective Hiroshi Tokyo series I found detective Hiroshi to be a well established character but Hiroshi Shimizu continues to hold an allure that is subtle yet ever present. While the investigation seems to go off in many directions I was always impressed with Hiroshi’s detective skills, which were always believable, which allowed me to follow an otherwise circuitous story easily.
Sukanya is the story of a girl lost in a big city. She’s being chased by thugs but luckily for her her cunning and intelligence keeps her one step ahead of the villains. It’s always nice to see strong female leads and with Sukanya and Chiho we’re treated to a nuanced view of women contending with a dense city that cares little for them by using their own wits.
The way in which these two genuinely intriguing characters riveting story lines come together is something that I rarely see and makes Tokyo Traffic the most thrilling book I’ve read this year. We’re treated to modern versions of Japanese culture that have evolved in the shadow of Tokyo. Michael Pronko creates the backdrop to this story as if it is a character all on its own and invites readers into this colorful world in an easy yet striking way.
If you’re looking for a thrilling crime fiction set in an exotic location then Tokyo Traffic is a prime choice. The enigmatic mystery at the heart of this intriguing novel was something I swiftly gave up in trying to solve as I realized that the chaotic and dramatic journey was the fun part. Tokyo Traffic is an exceptional ending to an extraordinary series from a mystery writer that knows how to entertain.
Pages: 341 | ASIN: B087QVRXZB
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One of the most interesting, and potentially terrifying, fantasies is to view the world through a serial killer’s eyes. The thought is frightening in the sense that the process of a murderer goes against the grain of those of us who are morally at odds with the desire to kill others for entertainment. Brian Gallagher explores this idea in his novel Serial K which follows the path of new-born serial killer Craig Breedlove as he embarks on his journey of perfection. A damaged individual from a relatively tame home, Breedlove has long admired the handy work of famous serial killers. He’s admired them for so long, that once he ties up a few loose ends upon his release from juvenile detention, he begins to literally carve himself a path to becoming one. Paying homage to his idols and tossing in bits of his own style he brings his reign of terror on America to the FBI. Notably agent Ryan O’Callahan and his ex-wife/current flame agent Lea Pucci. So begins the chase of cat and mouse.
Gallagher knows how to appeal to readers. The chapters are short and easy to digest while still maintaining substance and purpose. Murder-mystery-esque books can get buried in their own intrigue, but Serial K doesn’t go down that path. Every sentence is deliberate and the fractured story-telling allows readers to get both sides of the story. We see things from the eyes of Breedlove and we see things through the eyes of the agents assigned to catch him. It’s an interesting take on the serial killer idea. There are no attempts to humanize Breedlove or justify what he’s doing. He’s a young, very rich man, with a very odd sense of admiration.
However, there are a few spelling and grammatical issues that can detract from the tale and the use of vulgar language in the narrative that seems out of place. There are times when it is acceptable, expected even, and Gallagher uses it then. However, he uses some of this language in spots where if this tale were told solely from the mind of Breedlove it would make more sense. There are some questionable stylistic choices, but they shouldn’t be considered deal-breakers.
Aside from the rough patches Gallagher takes us on a wild ride with a serial killer and the FBI agents following close behind. There is an instance where Breedlove is within breathing distance from the agents yet he is able to remain undetected. Whether that is due to brilliance or sheer luck, the fact remains that our killer is still able to remain undiscovered. There are some aspects of the story that seem a little unbelievable; like Breedlove being released from juvenile detention with zero follow-up or monitoring, but that may just be a comment on the state of the justice system.
If you’re looking for an interesting take on the cat-and-mouse game you can definitely find entertainment with Serial K by Brian Gallagher. It’s an easy read with an ending that leaves an opening for more. While it may be lacking in some departments, the concept is still interesting and decently executed.
Pages: 295 | ASIN: B01N6P4RCU
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