Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Nao Murata is the new godfather of the Matsukawa syndicate. When Detective Yamada confronts Nao over a dead drug dealer, Nao knows his organization isn’t responsible. The Matsukawa doesn’t deal drugs… or does it?
When Nao discovers drugs in a locker owned by his syndicate, he no longer knows who to trust. With the police bearing down on the Matsukawa, Nao must make unlikely allies to find out the truth. Can he discover who is betraying him before time runs out, or will everyone suffer for a crime he didn’t commit?
Better Than Suicide is the second book in a Japanese mafia thriller series. If you like complex plots, gripping suspense, and a splash of romance, then you’ll love the next installment in Amy Tasukada’s Yakuza Path series.
I was wondering how Amy Tasukada was going to follow up her brilliant novel Blood Stained Tea (Book #1). That novel was a stunning violent look into Nao Murata’s life and rise to the top of the Matsukawa syndicate. And no it was not a romance. Neither is this.
It is, however, just as gripping, just as hardcore as that first story. What’s missing is the shock factor of Blood Stained Tea (Book #1). We had no idea of what was coming and that ending packed an emotional punch that I’ve still not recovered from. It was shattering and so powerful it carries over into this story. That’s perfect because Better Than Suicide deals with the aftermath of that event proving that it was a transformative act in many ways for Nao Murata and his Matsukawa syndicate.
Nao, already deeply traumatized by past events in his life, now is reeling from the attack by the Korean mob on Matsukawa territory and his part in the final assault. It has vaulted him into the role of godfather of the family organization, a role he’s unprepared for and he’s surrounded by new people he either doesn’t know or trust or both. It’s a deeply precarious position for anyone but especially for someone of his psychotic mentality. Immediately, the author puts the reader and Nao on the knife’s edge and keeps us there for the rest of the story, rocking us across the blade, sometimes close to death, sometimes close to safety, however or whatever that is, represented here. It’s gritty, it’s intense and it’s addictive.
Nao Murata remains the character you can’t look away from. So complex, so compelling, he’s a dark Rubix Cube of a man, his soul ruined and traumatized by loss and pain, he carries death and violence wherever he goes and yet there’s another side to him that you are almost afraid to see appear that’s gentle and loyal to the extreme. You get so pulled into Nao’s mindset that you forget that he’s also able to become a monster at the turn of the wind. Then you remember and fear for all around him while still hoping that Nao will survive the obstacles that comes his way, be it the police or the Korean mob still actively coming after his family or a mole within the syndicate.
That balancing act is superb here. The suspense is incredible as Tasukada keeps us guessing all through the story. We have no idea who Nao can trust and who he can’t. I loved all the twists and turns here. Nao continues to mature while remaining the layered, fear-inspiring person we have gotten to know now over the course of two books. I can’t wait to see where the author takes this character next, along with the Matsukawa syndicate and the new character she introduced in this story,
Lastly, we have the exquisite setting of Nao’s beloved Kyoto, seen from both the ugly side of the drug scene and the beauty and grace of the historic city. Its the perfect foundation for such a tormented and complex character such as Nao as he fights to keep his family syndicate together, himself alive, out of jail and still the head of the Matsukawa family, and all the while hunting the drug runners and the traitor.
Better Than Suicide (The Yakuza Path #2) by Amy Tasukada is another gritty, intense, superb story. It has everything, outstanding characters, a storyline full of layers, twists and turns. Its gripping and so addictive you can’t put it down. Just don’t go looking for romance here. That’s not healthy for anyone in one of these stories and it just doesn’t plain occur! Enjoy these crazy great crime thrillers for the suspense rollercoaster A rides they are! I do and I love and recommend them both. The author is working on book 3 and I can hardly wait. Grab these up and start reading and I’ll see you back here for that review!
Cover art is just a great as the story within. Eye catching and bloody.
Sales Links: Amazon
ebook, 376 pages
Published May 16th 2017
SeriesThe Yakuza Path #2