Note: This review is by my husband Jim.
This book is the second in the Inspector Iwata series. I did not read the first, but had no trouble picking up on the story.
Five years ago, Kosuke Iwata was working as a homicide detective in Tokyo, but there he lost his wife and young son. He returned to the United States, where he was born, and found employment in Los Angeles. He now works as a private eye, or “Professional Investigator,” the title he prefers, but he has sunk into a deep depression since he cannot forget the family he lost in Tokyo. He deploys the expertise he developed in Japan in the somewhat tawdry business of spying on unfaithful spouses.
His life undergoes a huge transformation when his former wife’s mother shows up at his door and demands that he help her find the murderer of Meredith Nichol, a transgender woman who had been his wife’s brother until he became her sister.
The LAPD think Meredith was the victim of a random hate crime, and are not very enthused about a private citizen looking over their shoulders. Without any help from the police, Iwata soldiers on, following leads into Mexico where he encounters some really bad criminals and a constabulary that is not much better. In the process of “solving” the crime, Iwata (and the reader) see up close the plight of Mexicans seeking asylum in the U.S.
Evaluation: The author serves up several plot twists and a few surprises, all the while effectively building tension. The story touches upon issues of gender discrimination – particularly with respect to transgender women; exploitation of those in need; and human rights abuses. The book is too literate to be dismissed as mere “airplane reading.” I wouldn’t be averse to continuing with the series.
Published in the U.S. by Minotaur Books, 2018