Book: Saumrai Boogie by Peter Tasker

Stylish detective novel set in 1990s Tokyo

Peter Tasker
Samurai Boogie
Orion, 2001
ISBN: 0 75283 676 5
393 pages

Samurai Boogie is a detective novel set in 1990s Tokyo. Kazuo Mori is the principled but impecunious detective and he's hired by Kimido Itoh, a rich former bar hostess, to investigate the death of her, um, friend, a senior bureaucrat. There are sub-plots about a yakuza gangster who has some trouble with some foreign prostitutes and a securities analyst who favors a smaller video-game company that produces better games over a better-capitalized rival.

The whodunit aspects of the book are perfectly reasonable, but the reason to read it is for the atmosphere. It's not in every detective novel that you'll read:

    He squats cross-legged at the low table,
    sipping sake from a thimble-sized cup,
    picking with his chopsticks at the strange
    collection of hors d'oeuvres on the
    crescent-shaped dish in front of him.
    Everything is tiny, superbly arranged,
    delicately-hued, tasteless. Everything has
    been made to look like something else.
    There is a piece of fish-meal cut into the
    shape of a leaf, a clump of salmon eggs
    that looks like a flower, a ball of bean curd
    moulded to look like a plover's egg.
    Nothing in this city can be what it is, not
    even the food. (p. 266)


    George the Wolf Nishio sits in a Roppongi
    bar watching a country-and-western group
    on the stage in the corner. Lonesome Luke
    Segawa and the Prairie Boys, one of
    George's favourites. They make music of a
    keening purity, as tragic as any he has ever
    heard. The bar is a small one, just a
    cramped corner on the twentieth floor of a
    building that the old boss acquired a couple
    of years back. (p. 171)

Anyone who thinks that 1990s Tokyo might provide an interesting setting for a detective novel is very likely to enjoy Samurai Boogie.

Mr Tasker is British and, though the book is distributed in America, there are some British-isms in the text. Few will require a trip to Google on the part of Americans, but I was surprised to learn that "dice" is used for both singular and plural in the UK (p. 300).

Posted: Thu - August 17, 2006 at 07:32 PM   Main   Category: