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The Hunter Hardcover – December 15, 2006

3.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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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From Booklist

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
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 269 pages
  • Publisher: Kodansha International (December 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4770030258
  • ISBN-13: 978-4770030252
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.9 x 5.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,660,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By TChris TOP 500 REVIEWER on February 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Takako Otomichi is a female cop in a man's Japan. When a murder victim dies in a fire started by an incendiary device hidden in his belt, Takako is among the detectives assigned to the case. She's partnered with a male detective sergeant who views her as an ornament. The investigation seems to be running out of steam when a second gruesome death occurs, this one apparently caused by a wild dog or a domesticated wolf. The relationship between the killings is the mystery that occupies Takako professionally. Divorced and living alone until her annoying sister shows up, Takako's personal life frustrates her as much as her job.

Takako's perseverance makes her a sympathetic character, but she is also easy to like: she's smart, she's tenacious, and she has a biting sense of humor (although, for the most part, she keeps her sarcasm to herself). She thinks of her partner as "the emperor penguin." Her partner fits the stereotype of the career cop who has sacrificed his family to his job, who drinks too much and doesn't trust women. Although most of the story is presented from Takako's point of view, we sometimes see the novel's events through her male partner's eyes. The differing perspectives offer insight into the failure of the partners to communicate -- the two characters make assumptions about each other that, left unspoken, make it impossible for them to work as a team.

The subordinate role of women in Japanese society is a recurring theme in Japanese crime fiction (it appears in Out and
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Format: Hardcover
The characters make this one stand out; Takako is a female cop who has to put up with all kinds of chauvinism in her department, even from her own partner, Takizawa. But Takizawa develops into a sympathetic character, and as the two cops work their way through a series of bizarre killings, their reactions to each other, never sinking into cliche, make for a terrific story on their own. And the ending is a real thrill-ride, literally.
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Format: Hardcover
The plot is very creative and unique - more "mysterious" than a lot of mysteries. And the tense relationship between the female detective and her misogynistic partner (a conservative older cop) seems very real - their banter and interaction is as interesting as solving the crime.

This book is written from a woman's perspective - to the extent that I would consider it feminist genre fiction. The author doesn't hit you over the head with the feminist angle - but seeing the Japanese police from the perspective of a female insider is an interesting twist on the usual murder mystery. The challenges that the female cope faces from everyone she encounters serves as a biting social critique of the status female professionals in Japanese society.
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