Do you remember where you were in 1991? Some of you do, of course, and some of you don’t. And one of the great thrills of reading is being taken to a time and place you may never have been: Paris, 1870; Dublin, 1904; Rome, 30 A.D.; A galaxy far far away — stories take us to memorable places with people and creatures that entertain us for hours.
In the Shig Sato Mystery series, the reader enters the world of Tokyo, 1991. A world capital, a center for government, entertainment, industry, diplomacy, a cavalcade of characters from the world over stepped onto the shores of the Land of the Rising Sun. It was a time of Japan Inc., riding an economic boom, the nation making its mark as an industrial leader. A city and a nation with a new emperor, a new vision for the future.
The world of Shig Sato was unique: a long-serving, highly respected police inspector, Sato returned to Azabu Police Station after two years of diplomatic security detail and security assignments for the Imperial Household Agency. Sato’s world was heart of Tokyo – the Imperial Palace, Roppongi, the embassy districts, and Sato knows every inch of it.
Roppongi: served by Sato’s beloved Azabu Police Station, isn’t so different now than it was in 1991. And Sato knew that among many of the foreigners out for a good time in that nightclub district were American servicemen, including some stationed with the U.S. Navy and Marine forces in Yokosuka, 37 miles down the coast. In the Shig Sato mystery The Gangster’s Son, Kimi Yamada’s beloved Cpl. Charlie Parker Jones is a Marine stationed on a American ship at the Navy base.
Sato’s return to Azabu Police station, the murder of Kimi Yamada, and his journey to finding the truth about her killer and himself make The Gangster’s Son “A highly readable murder novel with authentic Japanese flavor and a fresh, intelligent plot,” “Unique,” “Gritty. ”
Next time: Tokyo Inc.
To get a copy of my ebook mystery The Gangster’s Son click here and The Thief’s Mistake click here. And you’re invited to keep up with the latest Shig news by signing up for my monthly newsletter. See you soon!
My friend Anita was kind enough to interview me. Have a look.
Joseph Mark Brewer, the author of The Gangster’s Son, is here to talk about his writing method, combining the work of journalist and writer, and the challenges an author faces when planning an intricate plot of an exotic thriller. He will also announce the upcoming adventure of his signature detective Sato.
1. You write crime mysteries, involving plenty of plots and subplots. How much pre-planning do they require and is it difficult for you to balance plotted plans and creative freedom?
The mysteries require lots of planning for story structure and the whodunit aspect, but I don’t find it difficult to balance plot against creative freedom. I find creativity in dreaming up the crimes, the culprits, the scenarios, the dialogue – creativity within a structure, so to speak. I find thinking about what a character might say or do, what comes next, all of that to be very…
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My friend Lizzie is in South Sudan. Eye-opening to say the least.
This morning, I awake in my net-covered bed to the sound of crickets chirping and a rooster crowing. I stumble into green flip flops, eyes half-closed, and lift the patterned curtain that serves as a door to the room I share with three other Seed Effect volunteers. I am still drowsy, still want more sleep, but when I see the gold tinted bulbous clouds and Alice, the sweet South Sudanese woman who wakes before dawn to cook eggs and flat bread for our breakfast, the sleep washes away and I am alert. I don a blue skirt, grey shirt (a shirt I’ve worn for four days now), my big round sunglasses and baseball cap. When I cross the compound, I see a group of kids pumping water from a nearby well. Another South Sudanese woman, whose name I haven’t learned yet but know as the woman who carries the baby…
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Really interested to know what you think of this.
STEP ONE: write a book.
You don’t need to know how to write, and it doesn’t have to be a great book. Don’t even think of it as a book. Think of it as a product. Based on their reviews, many of the writers on the Amazon Kindle freebie bestseller list don’t really know how to write, and many of those who do are giving away a single short story or essay, not an entire novel or nonfiction book. You don’t have to write a masterpiece, just something you can slap a title and cover on and call an e-book.
STEP TWO: give it an enticing title and a nice cover.
You don’t really have to know anything about book design. There are places you can buy premade covers for $50 or less. If you are low on a budget, Fiverr is a great place to get High Quality…
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The police inspector knelt over the dead woman. He gently tilted her young, battered face. Her hair, dusty with debris, fell at odd angles. Sticky crimson blood oozed out her nose, ears, and mouth. One eye stared into the night, and what remained of the other was a swollen bloody mass. He pressed his finger against a plum-colored cheek split open. Some bone was still intact.
As he got up, he noted how her legs were oddly twisted beneath her. The sleeveless silk blouse and short black skirt she wore did not look disturbed. Nothing lay beside her. In the harsh crime scene lights, he thought the girl looked like a broken mannequin, carelessly discarded and alone.
It was a still, humid Tokyo evening, past midnight. Detective Ken Abe watched Inspector Shig Sato. Five minutes had passed since Sato said he wanted to take another look at the body. Abe wondered if his friend had lost his ability to concentrate, with his wife so ill, and this being his first night back in Criminal Investigations after two years of diplomatic security duty.
“Inspector?” Abe believed he hid the concern in his voice.
Sato raised his hand to shade his eyes from the blinding lights.
Abe pulled a cigarette from his lips.
Sato took another long look at the young woman, walked over to Abe, and said, “She was probably surprised, then beaten and left for dead. Probably dropped to the ground where she stood.”
Abe was relieved to see Sato focusing on the crime, putting what he saw into some sense of order.
“You said she’s a waitress at the jazz club?” Sato asked.
“Yep. Right in there,” Abe said, pointing at a neglected brown door. “A jazz club. Called the Down Low.”
There were many scattered anonymous doors along the alley. Some led to long, narrow, dim bars selling grilled chicken and beef on sticks to whet the appetite of the tired businessmen drinking beer after lonely beer. The meat’s lingering aroma, the grease, the alcohol, the sweat of the cooks, all clung to the thick night air. Behind other doors, sushi denizens had watched countermen slice their tuna and eel and octopus, caress their roe and rice, priests preparing their offerings. In tiny cabarets with low and plaintive jukeboxes, hostesses rested their aching feet while night managers quickly counted the evening take after rousting patrons from their drunken stupors.
The inspector saw these doors, once open in the vain hope of catching a midnight breeze, now closed tight against the bad luck that came with a dead body.
“It is too quiet here,” Sato said to himself. He did not like the quiet, not in that part of Tokyo, on the fringe of nightclubs and cabarets and bars and restaurants, that place where two alleys met, where a girl lay dead.
Sato took another look at the dead girl, then turn toward the medical examiner.
“It looks like somebody struck her across the face so hard it snapped her head back against that concrete wall,” the doctor said. A slight, bald, fidgety man, the doctor was truly at ease only when performing an autopsy. He hated making definite statements at crime scenes, but knew Sato needed to hear something. “Blunt force. Caused some type of bleeding in the skull, I’d say. And then maybe something snapped. She slumped to the ground, and that was it.”
Sato looked back at the body, then at the doctor, and paused before asking, “No one moved her, touched her in any way?”
“No!” If it had been anyone other than Sato, the doctor would have been insulted.
“Any signs of resisting? Bruising? Rape?”
“I don’t know.” The doctor hesitated, scratching his ear. “Her underclothes don’t look like they’ve been disturbed, and there’s nothing strange about her thighs or buttocks. I mean, there’s no strange marks or bruises. Like I said, it looks like she just dropped. Some kind of smack in the face, her head hits the wall. Probably burst something in her brain. Anyway, it probably shut down her central nervous system. That’s probably what killed her. We’ll know more later.”
Abe watched as Sato talked to the medical examiner. He watched Sato’s face harden as the doctor gave his assessment.
“She was pretty,” Abe said.
Sato turned to look at the girl once more.
“What was she doing in a dark alley so late at night?” he asked. “What could have happened that would lead to this?”
“This is Roppongi,” Abe said. “She probably liked the excitement. Nightclubs. Music. Lots of strange new people.”
“People.” Sato grunted.
“This club has a lot of foreigners come listen to jazz.”
Sato frowned. “Foreigners.”
“Young girl looking to meet foreigners, maybe have an adventure.”
“Adventure.” Sato shook his head.
“Hey, Tokyo’s booming,” Abe said. “It’s 1991. Things are good. Lots of people come here from all over the world, looking to make money, have a good time.”
“Maybe she had a boyfriend,” Sato said. “Maybe a jealous boyfriend.”
“Maybe a secret admirer,” Abe said.
(Read more here.)
Joseph Mark Brewer is author of the Shig Sato Mystery series. You’re invited to visit his web site, www.josephmarkbrewer.com. You can get your copy of The Gangster’s Son by visiting Amazon at