From Publishers Weekly
The 1996 winner of Japan's Naoki Prize, Nonami's engaging, complex police procedural, her first English-language publication, introduces Tokyo detective Takako Otomichi, who, having weathered a difficult divorce, must contend with her culture's disapproval of female police officers. Otomichi faces her greatest professional challenge when she teams with veteran Sgt. Tamotsu Takizawa to solve the murder of Takuma Sugawara, a businessman who bursts into flames at a popular family restaurant. Forensics soon demystify the sudden conflagration when traces of a chemical detonator are found in the victim's belt, but the inquiry takes a whole new tack when bite marks on Sugawara are linked to a series of fatal attacks by a wolflike predator. While some readers may find the whodunit aspect a bit routine, all will hope to see more of the prolific Nonami's work made available in the U.S. (Feb.)
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In her native Japan, the author is something of a superstar, the author of dozens of popular novels in a variety of genres, although she is best known as the writer of prizewinning crime novels. This one, originally published in 1996, is the first to appear in English, and it's a corker. Takako Otomichi, a motorcycle cop recently promoted to detective, gets her first big case when a man in a restaurant is apparently the victim of spontaneous combustion. It turns out to be the first of a string of inexplicable deaths. Battling resentment from her fellow detectives (especially from her new partner), Takako soon finds that, if she wants to solve this baffling case, she has no one to rely on but herself. An atmospheric mystery with plenty of noir shadings and more than a hint of the occult, this is a razor-sharp crime novel that will leave readers hungry for more Nonami. David Pitt
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