The Moving Blade


Fiction - Mystery - Murder
339 Pages
Reviewed on 09/22/2018
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Michael Pronko is a Tokyo-based author who writes in three genres—murder, memoir and music. The compelling, character-driven mysteries in his Detective Hiroshi series, set in Tokyo, have won critic’s awards and five-star reviews. Three collections of writings about Tokyo life, all award-winning, were taken from his popular column in Newsweek Japan. Kirkus Reviews called the third collection, “An elegantly written, precisely observed portrait of a Japanese city and its culture." Michael also runs the site, Jazz in Japan, reviewing, interviewing and pondering the meaning of the vibrant jazz scene in Tokyo and Yokohama.

Michael studied philosophy as an undergrad before taking off to travel for several years. After more traveling, more degrees, and several years teaching in China, Michael settled in Tokyo as a professor of American Literature at Meiji Gakuin University. He teaches classes on contemporary American novels, film adaptations, music and art. He has written regular columns for: The Japan Times, Newsweek Japan, Jazznin, and Artscape Japan, amongst others. He lives in western Tokyo with his wife and his Japanese garden.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.J. Simmill for Readers' Favorite

Jamie hadn't seen her father, Bernard Mattson, for years. They had drifted apart, but things had been about to change. They had planned to reunite, but then his murder put a stop to the plan. But murder is not the only thing she finds in his wake. A robbery on the day of his funeral suggests there may be more to the murder of the renowned diplomat than meets the eye. Jamie is eager to discover the truth about what befell her father. On the case is Detective Hiroshi Shimizu, along with his motley crew of ex-Sumo wrestlers, rugby players, and private investigators. With nothing but a wiped computer, stolen statues, and erotic prints, it seems an impossible task. But the body count is rising and answers are demanded. Can they uncover the truth before more people fall to the blade?

Culturally rich and seductively compelling, The Moving Blade is a must-read for lovers of murder mystery novels and crime fiction fans. Great attention to detail in both setting, lifestyle, and characters has been applied to create an atmospheric, tense, and engaging read which is further enhanced by Michael Pronko's skilled narrative. Plots, protests, questions, and secrets fill the pages and drive the reader forward through the engaging and well constructed plot. The characters are rich, deep, and vibrant, each with their own very distinctive rules, personality, relationships, and objectives. I can honestly say I enjoyed every minute I spent reading this, and it gets something I save only for those special books I really connect with: my heartfelt recommendation! Whether you're looking for a suspenseful and engaging read, or just something to pass the time, you should give The Moving Blade a try.

Maria Beltran

The Moving Blade by Michael Pronko is a murder mystery novel set in historically rich Japan. Bernard Mattson, a top American diplomat, is murdered in Tokyo, and his beautiful half American-half Japanese daughter, Jamie, has to pick up the pieces. Somewhat estranged from her dad, New York based Jamie Mattson comes back to Tokyo and what she finds are threats, a missing manuscript and a missing controversial speech due to be delivered soon. As the heir to her father's lifetime work on Japanese-American negotiations, Jamie wants to get to the bottom of things. Assigned to the Mattson murder case is Detective Hiroshi Shimizu who has to untangle the complex web that involves the sensitive Pacific Rim geopolitics, and it is a matter of life and death.

Award winning novelist Michael Pronko certainly does not disappoint his readers with The Moving Blade. The story unravels with a burglary at the house of murdered American diplomat Bernard Mattson, which ends up in the burglar's death from a traditional Japanese tanto sword. When the Tokyo police try to solve the murder case, things get very complicated and it ultimately brings them to the gate of an American base. The Moving Blade is not an ordinary murder mystery novel as it involves controversial US-Japanese relations and author Michael Pronko is obviously an expert on the subject. This, combined with his intimate knowledge of the Japanese way of life, makes his novel doubly interesting. And as we follow Jamie Mattson in her quest to perpetuate her father's legacy, we also get to learn a thing or two about the very interesting Japanese culture. I highly recommend this book!

Stefan Vucak

In The Moving Blade, Bernard Mattson, architect of many defense treaties between Japan and America, is murdered, but it is made to appear like a botched robbery. A man is found in an alley, killed by a single sword strike. Homicide detective Hiroshi Shimizu suspects a connection, but the tangled trail leads him in directions that may not help him enjoy a long life. Jamie Mattson flies to Tokyo to attend her father’s funeral, unaware of the complex intrigue about to ensnare her. According to their research, Jamie’s father had written a book exposing the murky side of Japanese/American politics, embarrassing for too many people if published. A mysterious killer leaves a trail of bodies, men who had an interest in publishing the book. Afraid for Jamie’s safety, Hiroshi urges her to return to New York, but she refuses to leave until her father’s murderer is exposed and the book published. The effort almost costs her life, but as the mystery slowly unwinds, the players reveal themselves.

Michael Pronko takes readers into the fascinating world of Japanese culture and philosophy, so different from the Western mindset, which resulted in an eminently readable story in The Moving Blade. Jamie Mattson, born in Japan, living most of her life in New York, gradually recaptures her past and appreciation for a way of life seemingly lost to her. Hiroshi Shimizu is at first glance a typical Japanese: loyal, honest, an able player of cultural nuances and the indirect approach. He is at first an unusual partner for Jamie. But having lived in America for several years, he becomes a bridge between his and her world as they work to resolve an expanding web that Japanese and American interests have woven for decades. The Moving Blade has enough plot twists to satisfy avid whodunit readers, and those keen to glimpse a culture that is in many respects alien to Westerners. I was impressed with Michael Pronko’s professionalism, the depth of his research, and the fluency of his writing.