James Buckler
ARRSE Rating
4.5 Mushroom Heads
Are you planning your reading material for this years holiday yet? If so add this to your list especially if you are lucky enough to be travelling to the Far East, maybe even Japan. Actually it will make a great travel companion no matter where your destination may be as you get immersed in this story of two people from opposite sides of the world, Alex Malloy from London and Naoko Yammamoto from Tokyo, who are brought together by fate and by their mutual friend Hiro Ozawa.
This is a cracking read from the prologue right the way through to the last page. One page after the other simmered gently away as the story takes the reader from a winter in London where Alex has left due to falling out with his parents and losing his job, why? A car crash and his passenger dying play a part, but that's not the full story as to why Alex a man starting out as a lawyer leaves London to start a new life in Tokyo as an English teacher, as you might know by now I never go into too much detail as I really don't want to spoil the story, I try and find the right balance between giving the reader of the review a good taste of the book without giving the story away.

So Alex starts anew, working in a language college where his students already speak almost fluent English; it isn't a difficult job but it pays the rent with a a few yen left over. He meets up with Hiro who he met at University in London, Hiro shows him the night life. Now the furthest East I've travelled is Cyprus but the author certainly has a talent for bringing the bustling streets, bars and restaurants to the reader, well he has lived in Tokyo and has used that experience to great effect in this book his debut novel.

Alex meets Naoko a young very attractive, intelligent and ambitious lady who works in a high class Tokyo art gallery, together they form a relationship which at times doesn't go so well, Hiro is like a brother to Naoko and is very protective of her. He is also a very good friend to Alex, does Hiro play "The Gooseberry",? I'll leave that question unanswered but this isn't a love story far from it, well in places maybe, the story quickly turns from a simmering read with dark undercurrents to a bubbling very fast paced thrill of a ride where you are taken from a tour of Tokyo and Alex's boring job to Alex been arrested and thrown into prison where he has to survive and figure out how he managed to get into this mess and more importantly how to get out of this mess! Prisons in Japan are very different from here! His options are limited he hasn't been charged but Japan has its own laws and the Inspector is letting him stew and think things over when he the inspector tries to get to the bottom of things. Again what things? Well it's a domestic between Alex and Naoko, a domestic which is very different and which alters the course of their lives and the story.

There are pages within this book that really bring the tension to the reader and you can picture yourself been "a fly on the wall" as you follow the story, quickly turning one page after the other questioning just how is this going to end?

So why 4.5 mushroom heads and not 5? I wanted a longer read at 340 odd pages it's a good size but with all good stories you don't really want it to end, I again closed the book and thought. Damn good read, I enjoyed that, and I'm sure you will too!

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