- 06 May 22
Triple Tokyo Terminator Throw Down!
According to Martin Amis, once his second wife Jane left him, his father Kingsley henceforth wanted only to read books that began “a shot rang out”. I think this is a wise policy. There's a pile of books here - full of youths coming of age, feelings, and people discovering that friendship is the real treasure and it's been inside us all along - that'll remain unopened until my children throw them in the recycling after I die. On the other hand, a book like the latest from Japanese thriller writer Kōtarō Isaka has the words 'Three' and 'Assassins' printed on the front in big letters. As if that wasn't enough - and it certainly was for me - it also declares "their mission is murder. His is revenge." You can't judge a book by its cover? Nonsense. Of course you can.
If you need more persuading, this coming summer will see Brad Pitt and Sandra Bullock star in the movie of Isaka's 2010 novel, the frenetic Bullet Train (original title: Maria Beetle). If the trailer is anything to go by, it will be, as the actress promised the bishop, some ride. In the meantime, you are strongly advised to purchase a ticket for Three Assassins.
How about this for an opening. Well, it’s three openings, really. Suzuki is a former maths teacher who has joined the distinctly dodgy Fräulein organisation. His wife was run over and killed by the son of the boss man Terahara so the crime syndicate, naturally enough, have him on probation. Before he gets his chance to act, he witnesses the son being run over himself. He’s sent in pursuit of the one who shoved him into the street, a figure known appropriately as The Pusher.
In a near-by hotel, The Whale is persuading another unfortunate to commit suicide by hanging - he talks and people want to top themselves? I think I've been in a few meetings with this fella - to save a worse fate being visited on his family. As he always does in these situations, he reads Dostoevsky’s Crime And Punishment to pass the time as the victim comes to terms with the way things have turned out and writes a note to his or her loved ones. The Whale has problems of his own though; the ghost of his victims are coming back to haunt him.
In another part of town, the one known as Cicada is taking care of the family of a young man who thought it would be a good wheeze to burn a homeless person to death, work paid for by the other homeless people of the city. While the Fräulein staff are busy dealing with the number one son incident, Cicada gets hired for a big job.
There's little need to tell you much more. It's not quite as action-packed as Bullet Train, and the use of Suzuki as an ordinary man caught up in the assassin's hyper-reality does ground it somewhere near the real world, although thankfully far enough away to make it worth reading. Isaka skilfully ties the whole thing together, keeps the thrills coming and the pages turning and you, if you've any sense at all, have already abandoned this review to call a taxi to take you to the nearest book shop. No point in me hanging around so.