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Dreaming Pachinko

by Isaac Adamson

Harperperennial Library
May 2003
ISBN: 0060516232


"Dreaming Pachinko" is Isaac Adamason's (interview here) newest addition to the adventures of Billy Chaka. This latest adventure takes Chaka into the heart of a strange case of the past coming back to haunt the future. While in Tokyo to interview an old pop star that's hit rock bottom, Billy Chaka finds himself the victim of being in the right place at the wrong time. A wonderfully constructed mess of loose ends and partial clues awaits him as he investigates the strange circumstances of a missing girl and her connections to a major construction company's corporate family. As the plot gets thicker and thicker Billy Chaka finds his world becoming stranger and stranger, leading him finally to the answer's he's seeking in manner that is much like how it all began.

While Adamson's novels may seem like the detective pulp fiction novels of old, there is something about these books that sets them apart from the formulaic genre books of the past while still being able to retain the classic flare of suspense and adventure. It may be the way in which Adamson's witty commentary and quirky character intermix with classic pulp fiction components to make a punky style all its own. Perhaps it's his ability to immerse the readers in a world so different from their own and still have them understand what's going on.

Admittedly if the reader isn't at least a little familiar with Japanese culture, some of his commentary and jokes will be lost, but for the most part Adamson does a good job of informing the reading without making his books seem like a history textbook disguised as a fiction novel. Interspersed within the story are snippets of culture and history that help inform the reader and enliven much of the humor. They are so seamlessly placed that you finish the book having learned something about Japan without really realizing it. And if you are someone who does know a bit about Japanese culture, prepare to laugh out loud.

"Dreaming Pachinko" is full of vibrant images straight out of Tokyo and characters that are so 3D that your mind's eye will be bursting by the time you finish the last chapter. Every thing from a hotel receptionist with a handle bar mustache nicknamed "The Walrus" to a house that's so postmodern it makes the Cowboy-bebop world Adamson paints more lifelike while still retaining a wonderfully cinematic feel. I personally look forward to the next Billy Chaka Adventure.

Jesse L'argent - Staff Features Writer


Mike Doughty



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