RARA-AVIS: Neon books

From: Karin Montin ( kmontin@sympatico.ca)
Date: 29 Feb 2004

Just finished Dreaming Pachinko, the third Billy Chaka novel by Isaac Adamson. I'd read Hokkaido Popsicle last year and liked it. The covers are in very noticeable bright neon colours with bold graphics.

Billy Chaka, American writer for Asian Youth pop culture magazine, always seems to get mixed up in mysterious deaths, and, of course, solves the mysteries ahead of the police. In this book, he saves a young woman having what seems to be an epileptic fit, only to find out that she's committed suicide a couple of days later.

As in Hokkaido Popsicle, we get a tour of modern Japanese culture, but in this one the shadow of the past hangs over everything, so there is a concentrated history lesson on the bombing and reconstruction of Tokyo.

Interesting main characters, interesting background, fast plot, ending with about a million unanswered questions and a major dose of the supernatural. Kind of ruined it for me. The author threw in so many angles to the story that it wasn't possible to wrap all the ends up neatly, so he has Chaka simply say, "I guess I'll never know what happened" about many of them. I'll probably give Adamson another chance, but I was seriously disappointed by what seemed like a lack of discipline.

Despite the loud, fast-moving, neon-bright setting of Tokyo, there is a dark, foreboding atmosphere: ghosts of the past, mysterious strangers, national and personal tragedy. Noir, or near enough for me.


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