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Michael Pronko
The Last Train
THE LAST TRAIN is the debut Tokyo-based thriller by multi-award-winning author Michael Pronko. In the novel, Detective Hiroshi Shimizu is an investigator of white collar crime in Tokyo. He’s lost his girlfriend and still dreams of his time studying in America, but with a stable job, his own office and a half-empty apartment, he’s settled in. When an American businessman turns up dead, his mentor Takamatsu calls him out to the site of a grisly murder in a train station. A glimpse from a security camera video suggests the killer was a woman, but in Japan, that seems unlikely. Takamatsu drags Hiroshi out to the hostess clubs and skyscraper offices of Tokyo in search of the killer. When Takamatsu inexplicably disappears, Hiroshi teams up with ex-sumo wrestler and detective Sakaguchi. They scour Tokyo’s sacred temples, corporate offices and industrial wastelands to find out where Takamatsu went, and why an average-seeming woman would be driven to murder. The intricate, rigid hierarches of Japan mean that people stay in place, while inside information about real estate—the true currency of Japan, Takamatsu tells Hiroshi before he disappears--travels in a flash from the top investment firms to the bottom of the working world, where street-level punks and teenage hostesses sell their souls for a small cut of lucrative land deals. Hiroshi’s determined to cut through Japan’s ambiguities—and dangers—to find the murdering ex-hostess before she extracts her final revenge—which just might be him.

Semi Finalist

Plot/Idea: 10 out of 10
Originality: 10 out of 10
Prose: 10 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 10.00 out of 10


Plot: This story grips the reader from the very beginning with its creepy and eerie premise, original story line, and rage-filled killer with icy determination.

Prose: Well written and engaging throughout, the book achieves a perfect balance of action and description. The descriptions of Tokyo and Japanese culture are particularly memorable.

Originality: The author provides a distinctive and fast-paced plot that holds the reader's attention from beginning to end.

Character Development: The author does a superb job of developing both his major and minor characters.

Blurb: Gripping and suspenseful, this fast-paced thriller unfolds on the streets of Tokyo, where a clever and cold-blooded killer exacts revenge.

Date Submitted: April 27, 2017