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Pro Bono Paperback – July 3, 2012

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A master crime writer...Seicho Matsumoto's thrillers teach Japanese strategy!"--The New York Times Book Review

"Seicho Matsumoto combines the prolific output of a Rex Stout with the literary qualities of Elmore Leonard."--San Francisco Chronicle

About the Author

Seicho Matsumoto (1909 - 1992) Native of Fukuoka Prefecture and prolific writer of socially oriented detective and mystery fiction, Matsumoto debuted as a writer after reaching the age of forty with the historically based Saigo Takamori Chits, 1950 and The Legend of the Kokura Diary, 1952. He then went on to establish his unique style of detective fiction with the works The Walls Have Eyes, 1957 and Points and Lines, 1958. Matsumoto made a name for himself as the writer of suspense novels that were accesible to all kinds of readership, but it was his historical novel The Ogura Diary Chronicles that earned him The 28th Akutagawa Prize, the Japanese equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize. The popular Japanese TV show "Black Leather Notebook" was based on his novel of the same name, and several of his detective fiction works have been published in the US (SoHo Crime and Kodansha International).

The Matsumoto Seicho Memorial Museum in Kitakyushu City has commemorated the life and work of Seicho Matsumoto since 1998.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Vertical (July 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934287024
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934287026
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,031,472 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Patto TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 8, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Seicho Matsumoto was Japan's best-selling author in the 1960s and won many literary prizes. In his hands the crime novel became a novel of social critique, strongly flavored with nihilism. His characters are fascinating studies in human psychology.

Pro Bono is very dark, beginning with a tragic miscarriage of justice and ending with a chilling revenge. The great injustice dramatized still exists today: poor people can't afford the fees of the most talented defense lawyers. The rich criminal goes free, brilliantly defended, while the innocent poor man, carelessly defended, dies.

I won't reveal any plot details, because every detail twists the knife in the heart of the reader and fuels the terrible momentum of the story. The subject of the investigation is society, as well as the crime. But the crime has a complexity that is a total surprise to the reader. This is highly successful crime writing, in addition to delivering a message.

The characters are well done: a young man accused of murder, his beautiful sister who becomes obsessed with getting justice for her brother, the famous lawyer who refuses to handle the case pro bono, the idealistic young journalist who wants to help but is powerless, and the young hostesses who work in seedy bars down the back streets of Tokyo. Although the lawyer is the villain, I couldn't help but feel some sympathy for him. All is not black and white in this grim story.

Although Matsumoto is a major figure in Japanese literature, only a handful of his books are available in English. I recommend them all to serious fans of contemporary Japanese fiction. Who knows how long they'll be in print?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Pro bono is nicely thought out and plotted. I enjoy reading mystery set in different places, especially places I've been. Pro bono did everything to set my imagination free, and I had a hard time setting the book down. Perfect for the weekend get-away read.
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Format: Paperback
In Japan, Seicho Matsumoto is one of the most well-known crime fiction writers. Having produced 450 works (beginning at the age of 40) until his death in 1992, Matsumoto's work was known to be dark but also exposing the corruption not just in the underworld but also among police officials.

Having won many awards in Japan and one of the best selling and highest earning authors of the 1960's. Matsumoto wrote the story "Pro Bono" which was serialized in a women's publication from 1959-1960 and was made into a novel in 1961.

The drama was well-received that it's popularity led to a TV drama being made in 1965 and once again in 1977 and special dramas in 1983, 1991, 1997 and in 2003. And to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Seicho Matsumoto's birth, a special aired in television in 2010.

In America, "Pro Bono" will be released in America courtesy of Vertical, Inc. and featuring an English translation by Andrew Clare.

"Pro Bono" revolves around a young woman named Kiriko Yanagida who travels from Kyushu to Tokyo to meet with renown criminal defense lawyer Kinzo Otsuka.

Kiriko's brother Masao, a teacher, is a suspect of a robbery and murder of a 65-year-old woman. When he was arrested, her brother confessed but changed his mind after meeting with a public prosecutor.

Because of the technicality, it would be difficult to prove Masao's innocence, so she had to meet with the best criminal defense attorney in Tokyo.

But because she has no money to pay for the high attorney's fees, Kinzo feels its a waste of her time and money to travel to Tokyo to get him to work on this case. For one, he doesn't work via pro bono and second, all that is on his mind is being with his girlfriend Michiko Kono, a restaurant owner in the city.
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