Jim Brodie #1: “Japantown” by Barry L. Lancet. Brodie lives in San Francisco where he owns an art shop, specializing in Japanese art and Asian artifacts. He is also half owner of Brodie Security in Tokyo, Japan, his co-owner was his father’s partner in the business, and Jim inherited his share when his father died. Jim Brodie is also a single father raising a six-year-old girl alone since his wife died in a fire.
Then one night his friend, Lieutenant Frank Renna of the San Francisco Police Department called for his assistance at a crime scene in Japantown. At the scene of the brutal murder of a Japanese family and their bodyguard, a scrap of paper with a unique character printed on it is found near the bodies. Lt. Renna hopes Brodie can identify the Japanese character and give them a clue to the killers. The same symbol had been at the scene of Brodie’s wife’s death, and this may prove that she was also murdered. Though he doesn’t know the meaning of the characters, he promises to use his detective agency in Japan to research it.
The next day he is approached by a billionaire Japanese businessman who wants to hire Brodie to investigate the killing also. He explains that the woman murdered in Japantown was his daughter. But Brodie learns the man has other reasons, as well. And before the case concludes, Brodie, his company investigators in Japan, and the San Francisco police will be up against professional killers: The Soga; a private army of assassins for hire of Japanese origin based somewhere overseas.
This was a fun and exciting read, with the action set in both America and Japan. There were a lot of similarities between Jack Seward’s Curt Stone, and Earl Norman’s Burns Bannion, but better written (maybe not the same kind of fun as Burns Bannion, though, but much better written). The Soga group reminded me of CYPHER, the organization of ex-soldiers who were also an army of hired assassins The Shadow put out of business in that series. The difference being, CYPHER was an organization made up of trained soldiers, Soga is made up of martial arts experts from all walks of life. But the ideals are the same. This thrill-a-minute action will keep the reader turning the pages.