Cover Image: Japantown


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Member Reviews

A family are found shot on a street in San Francisco and the local police call in Jim Brodie to help - by day he runs an antique shop and by night, Brodie Security in the US and Japan. It quickly transpires that this is no ordinary crime and, with the help of colleagues in Tokyo and San Francisco, Brodie starts on the trail of a mysterious group of assassins whilst trying not to get killed in the process.

This is an action story with lots of twists and turns and some violence but nothing overly gory. Yes the final scenes are slightly over the top - would one very tired man really be able to take down 3 top assassins on home turf? - but highly readable.

I look forward to reading the next books in this series.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
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Mr. Lancet in his debut novel uses his very unique experience as a long-time resident of Japan to tell a great mystery thriller.  Despite this novel being published in 2013, I have just discovered it and am glad to have done so.
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Japantown is a murder-thriller with an art & antiquities dealer at its helm. Jim Brodie finds himself embroiled in a secret-society type of murder when a family is gunned down in the streets of San Francisco in what looks like the perfect crime. No suspects, no motive, just another random act of violence. Until Brodie notices the calling card left at the scene… Before he realizes it, he’s up to his eyeballs in mysterious killers dogging his steps as he barges around trying to figure out what’s going on.

I wasn’t enamored with Brodie. He knows his Japanese art & antiques, and practices several styles of martial arts (which I was repeatedly informed of, and we know how much I like having a point smack me in the face over and over and over). He’s a father whose daughter stays with the neighbor lady while he’s off at all hours of the night chasing leads on a case he’s not even officially on (until he’s asked to be). And he’s a widower whose wife died in a similar random act of violence, which was also repeated multiple times. He’s also lucky as heck to survive the machinations of a secret sect of ninjas (yes, I said it, even if the book avoids the “n” word like the plague).

I’m not an expert by any means in anything Japanese (other than I love tonkatsu ramen & have very definite opinions there) so I can’t comment on Japantown‘s backdrop, other than it seemed weird that this super-secret ninja society has non-Asians featured so prominently. I mean, a gaijin being groomed as successor, really? And the next-ninja is another gaijin? He couldn’t fit Japanese people in these prominent roles in a novel featuring ninjas? Weird.

Anyway. Brodie is reckless and careless, and should’ve died as soon as he “forgot” not to and touched a poisoned weapon. I mean, we’re dealing with super-secret-society assassins here and Brodie’s clomping about like an elephant trumpeting its displeasure in a china shop. As it is, he survives that to head into a finale on a sprawling private estate where he kills all the bad guys, climbs trees like a squirrel, and saves his six-year-old kid who talks like an adult. May be fun for a movie packed with special effects, but a book? Not so much.

drey’s rating: Ok
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Skilfully drawing us into main character's life and background as son of detective who has inherited insights into mixed cultural works of Japanese/USA,  this story begins with horrific familial slaughter that seems to relate to his own wife's murder .. a well depicted little daughter is part of  the gig too .. and local police characters working out a complex cultural crime.. I was more intrigued  than I bargained for .. this is a goodie. Drew me into a late-night..
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The first novel in the Jim Brodie series.
This is an interesting thriller/crime novel. Jim Brodie is an antiques specialist and dealer, and also a private investigator. After a group of wealthy Japanese are gunned down in San Francisco, the SFPD bring Brodie in to consult. His investigation eventually takes him to Japan, as he tracks down the cause of the killings.

Lancet has written an engaging mystery, and manages to weave exposition in very well, without disrupting the flow of the story. I'm looking forward to reading the next novel in the series, "Tokyo Kill" (out now).
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I wanted to like this book and story but I truly did not.  It didn't flow, characters were unlikable and it was a slog.
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A fun and exciting novel by Barry Lancet. This book introduces the art dealer and part time detective John Brodie. As an expert in Japanese art and culture he is asked by a friend on the police force to help look into a multiple homicide. The victims turn out to be the family of a famous Japanese businessman. Soon the bereaved man is at Brodie's shop offering him a fortune to find the killers. Before Brodie knows what has happened he is sucked into a case that has him back and forth from the US to Japan and back. He discovers that the truth is elusive and that he is up against a far more terrifying force than he ever imagined. This page turner was a lot of fun and I look forward to reading more of the Brodie stories.
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Early novel by author Barry Lancet in his Jim Brodie series, JAPANTOWN, introduces his character and explains his backstory. The writing and dialog are a bit awkward;  it felt very much like a first draft.  The plus side is that it did seem as though the protagonist was actually telling the story, the downside was that he became annoying;  his voice was not one that I enjoyed over time.  Private eye first person accounts typically depend on the character downplaying their skills, that was not the case here. Brodie  overstates his abilities too often to make the genre work well.  I received my copy from the publisher through NetGalley.
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For the most part this book serves it's purpose admirably if what you are looking for is a mystery/thriller book and don't expect your action and plot details to be completely realistic. The protagonist of the novel (Jim Brodie) straddles the line of belief without quite collapsing through it. He's an antiques expert that is a black belt martial artist and own's a Japanese security company. Yeah that is certainly an eye-rolling combination, but for the most part Lancet makes it work here. The way he twists himself into knots trying not to use the word "ninjas" when describing the ancient order of Japanese assassins that are the primary antagonist to the story is also interesting.

The reason I couldn't rate the novel higher is the third act of the book completely falls apart. Like many newer authors Lancet falls into the trap of rushing all his plot points to a conclusion and many of them are completely unnecessary or unbelievable. Even down to the manufactured fist fight between the head bad guy at the end. Even the twist of who is working for the bad guys falls completely on its face because it comes out of left field and resolves a plot line that could have been more interesting in a second book.
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This book reminded me of the early Robert Ludlum books. Thrillers like Matarese Circle and the Gemini Contenders. Books that were fast paced and a bit out there, but were still believable.

In a sentence, it took me back to books I loved in the 70’s and 80’s but the type of which have been missing for years, with the odd exception.

Jim Brodie, is an Irish American hose father founded an Investigation agency in Japan. A big man who is fully immersed in the culture of Japan.

Brodie lives in America, where he runs an antique business, as well as being a partner in his late fathers business in Japan.

With his connections, and understanding of Japanese cultures and the language, it’s not surprising that he consults for the San Francisco Police Department

When a family is gunned down in Japantown he is called to the scene, where he finds a Kanji written on a leaf of paper. It’s an ancient form of script that is never used, it’s also the calling card for a band of killers.

Investigations lead to a small town in Japan and what follows is a mixture of violent encounters as a Brodie puts himself, his family, and his partners in danger. Not everybody will survive what turns out to be a fast and frenetic story with a stunning, and breathtaking conclusion.

This book had everything for me. A cracking story, great characters, and the ability to get me reaching for google. It entertained me and educated me. Brilliant
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While "Japantown" can verge on the unrealistic, it manages to be a good and entertaining novel the whole way through. I certainly enjoyed it quite a bit more than I expected I would.
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I'm combining my reviews for Japantown and Tokyo Kill -- I don't have much to add to the many reviews except that these are pretty good books. Not totally realistic, but a good amount of action and suspense. Recommended for int'l thriller fans. Tokyo Kill is the better of the two.

I really appreciate the copy for review!!
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Took a chance on this book not so much into this kind of drama and mystery and thrilled and so glad I did! Learned a lot of the culture of Japan,the plot,the story the characters is really easy to follow and to you don't get all mixed up! First time read on this author and received from Net Galley,thanks so much! Didn't realize this is a series good thing I read this one first a lot of times I get them out of order so I have learned to look and see,it does help!! lol You will enjoy this book if this is your type of not,try it anywzy,I did!!🙉🙊🙈
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4/5 - A thriller set close to my hometown!

I was really excited to read this book. I’m fast becoming a fan of thriller/mystery books. Before I only dipped my toes into romantic suspense novels because I mostly only read romance books. BUT, this book caught my eye partly for the title, partly for the location, partly for the blurb that promised a thriller story and finally for the cover of the book. The original cover is so eye catching, it pulls you in when an exclusive romance reader like myself wanted to look away. 

A bloody murder of a family in San Francisco’s Japantown pulls antique dealer Jim Brodie into the life of a private eye. It’s a slow burn type of thriller but it was engaging at the same time. It satisfied my craving for a dark mystery. I will be reading book two, next!

Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to read this epic thriller.
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An interesting take on the private-eye thriller, Japantown paints a set with realistic scenery, has a script with interesting characters, and an unusual protagonist. A pity that the plot is so fanciful, making it very dificult to suspend disbelief.
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Book synopsis: 
In this “sophisticated international thriller” (The New York Times Book Review), an American antiques-dealer-turned-reluctant-private-eye must use his knowledge of Japanese culture to unravel a major murder in San Francisco—before he and his daughter become targets themselves.

San Francisco antiques dealer Jim Brodie receives a call one night from a friend at the SFPD: an entire family has been senselessly gunned down in the Japantown neighborhood of the bustling city. As an American born and raised in Japan and part-owner of his father’s Tokyo private investigation firm, Brodie has advised the local police in the past, but the near-perfect murders in Japantown are like nothing he’s ever encountered.

With his array of Asian contacts and fluency in Japanese, Brodie follows leads gathered from a shadow powerbroker, a renegade Japanese detective, and the elusive tycoon at the center of the Japantown murders along a trail that takes him from the crime scene in California to terrorized citizens and informants in Japan. Step by step, he unravels a web of intrigue stretching back centuries and unearths a deadly secret that threatens not only his life but also the lives of his entire circle of family and friends

My thoughts 
Would I recommend the series ? Yes 
Will I read anything else by this author? yes
Note: you Don't have to read the series in order ,because I didn't ,but this time around I'm .
Also the only book in the series I haven't read it is book 4 , which I have to get and read.
This was a great read because it's the first book and you get to meet the characters for the first time and get understanding of who Jim is and how he came to be the man he is. You see an feel the love he has for his daughter and you find out how it came to be just him and her. The more you read the more your pulled into the story and it comes to life before your eyes , the places he talks about, the history , the people . It's action from the very start with that said one want to thank Netgalley for letting me read and review exchange for my honest opinion and for helping fall back in love with one of my all time favorite series.
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Barry Lancet’s long-running series of thrillers center around Jim Brodie, and antiques dealer and inheritor of his father’s security company in Tokyo. Real page-turners! Listen to our podcast with the author at
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This is a big and rather complicated plot and story, but actually easy to follow as the timeline is clear. Great characters and lots of thrilling action.
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Book Review: Japantown (Book 1) and Tokyo Kill (Book 2), Jim Brodie series by Barry Lancet

As a student of Japanese culture who actually lived in Japan, I had high expectations that perhaps these books may be where one would find fresh perspectives from a "gaijin" writer - a thriller writer at that, juxtaposed against the subtle delivery and stellar quality of novels of the Murakami and Ishiguro variety.

I really wanted to like both books, but it just wasn't to be.

The first novel is interesting enough - about "shadow powerbrokers". Japantown is in reference to a San Francisco neighborhood, not in the streets of Japan, and indeed much of the story takes place in the U.S.A., with the finale staged in Long Island, NY.

References to Japan are studied, caricatured and contrived, not natural. The protagonist's elaboration of the adoption of Chinese kanji into the Japanese language is quite a bit off. There are indeed well-researched cultural references to Japanese art, handicraft, history, even dark culture - tsuba, tansu, washi, Lord Hideyoshi, Sengakuji, 47 ronin, Tokugawa "Dog Shogun", nedayashi. 

The villains' safe harbor in the story, Soga-jujo, is not a place that would realistically exist. Giving Western names to some of the main killer-villains baffles, these being Japanese individuals. 

The "James Bond" wannabe protagonist cannot be defeated in hand-to-hand combat, won't be killed by bullets, but yet has the temperament of an adolescent, frequently losing his cool. "What the hell are you doing?", says the martial arts zen master in protest to a Japanese speaker.

The second book is a bit more readable with an interesting plot about lost WWII treasures and a few good lessons in East Asian history. But again much of the action occurs outside of Japan with a generous share of stereotype pop culture concepts that the Japanese are going to be all about karate chops, Kendo sticks and brutal Yakuza types.

The final battle in this second book is also removed from Japan - in Miami and the Caribbean.

Review based on advance reading copies provided by NetGalley and Simon & Schuster.
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Deserves every star, what an epic tale of racing against time to get a shadowy organization, a story that spans the west and the east, full in depth of history regarding old japan, mixing true facts with fantasy ones to weave a story that tackle your senses.
 Highly recommend it to anyone who enjoy the mix of east and west, a high thriller chase against time to catch a killer.
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