The Haiku Murder -Tokyo, Japan – Fran Pickering

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Following on from the Cherry Blossom Murder, Josie Clark is once again getting herself in involved in even more tricky situations

Story in a nutshell

Josie Clark is a British expat in Tokyo  who goes on a Haiku Country tour with people from a company called Ando investments. It’s to be a getting to know you trip away for new clients and they’ll be visiting places well known for Haiku fans as well as being the ideal getaway. Writing poetry is on the agenda for every evening and the trip looks set to be relaxing as well as enjoyable.

But when the party arrive at Matasuyama castle, one of the participants of the trip, a charismatic financier is found dead at the bottom of a castle. A tragic fall! they cry, but Josie has other ideas and believes he was pushed.

Place and setting

Follow Josie around Japan on a Haiku Murder Mystery tour
Follow Josie around Japan on a Haiku Murder Mystery tour

Tokyo – where the trip departs from

Ishite temple/Dogo hot spring – first stop on the tour

Matsuyama castle – where Mr Ando falls to his death  – or does he?

Saitama – where the Ando family runs a bookshop

Yokohama – the best and  biggest Chinatown in Japan where Josie eats with Dave

We’re sure that poetry is not normally as deadly as that portrayed in the book but it was very interesting to find out about the Haiku trip and to go on the itinerary with them. It was like a poetry booktrail so was right up our street and getting to know the array of characters was interesting too. The scenes at the airport befor they even depart set the scene well with descriptions of quirky characters with hidden agendas.

As the tour progresses, we find out more about Haiku – such as lovers would converse in haiku and

Jimbocho and Saitama seem to be the places where the bookshops are in the bookand how we wanted to linger here for longer. Makes us want to learn Japanese now too.

Japanese culture seems so fascinating in Fran Pickering’s hands – the funeral traditions for one were interesting to read about as was the yuzu icrecream and the yuzu flavoured sweet bean paste that was the Matsuyama speciality.

The gesture of standing on a bridge and dropping a camellia in to the water on one side and then making a haiku before it appeared on the other side seemed like a lovely thing to do and this is one image that stayed with us.

Matsuyama Castle
Matsuyama Castle

Review

Fran Pickering’s passion for Japan really is the way in which she is able to write about the country with such skill. Her writing is easy to read and flows well and the snippets of Japanese life fit well into the case Josie gets herself involved with. I had images of a Japanese style of Nancy Drew kind of girl as Josie got herself further and further into the case despite David’s protestations. She’s a curious girl -I like that- and I urged her not to listen to the boyfriend and to get solving the case.

Some would call this cosy crime – like Grantchester or Nancy Drew but do we always have to have horrifc graphic murder everytime? It makes a nice change for the setting and the investigation side to come out on top and to  focus on the person solving the mystery. There’s lots of conversations and inner thoughts that Josie shares throughout which make it easy for us to get on side early on and I was willing her to get the criminal. To do so in a landscape that is so tricky to navigate, one where we learn about the culture along the way is really interesting.

I like Josie Clark, I really do. Poor girl gets herself into a lot of scrapes but she uses her love of Japan and the Japanese language to full effect.

Josie if you would ever like to come on a booktrail, we’d love to have you! Safer than Haiku tours we assure you!

2 thoughts on “The Haiku Murder -Tokyo, Japan – Fran Pickering

  1. Wish I’d read about this before I went to Japan two weeks ago – then I could have gone looking for yuzu flavoured ice-cream.You’re right though about it being a fascinating culture.

    1. Thanks for your comments! Yes I agree it really does make you want to go to Japan and eat all that lovely food and see the landscapes in the novel. I hope you get to go again soon with this book as your guide. Fran has also written two more in the series which are worth a look – again more on the culture and an insight into lots more. Fascinating! Enjoy x

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