Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Aki Hisona’s latest promotion is a cause for celebration. But because his new job is working as the personal secretary for the Yakuza’s Kyoto-based godfather, it’s also a cause for dangerous envy. He takes an invitation from a friend for congratulatory drinks, but Aki never thought the night would end with a deadly knife fight…
Aki is tasked with disposing of his friend’s corpse, but there’s one problem: the body is missing. As body parts surface around town, it’s only a matter of time before the police piece together the clues. But keeping one step ahead of the cops may not matter if Aki can’t solve the mystery before his cold, unforgiving godfather boss does…
The Yakuza Path: One Thousand Cranes is a pulse-pounding standalone thriller in the ongoing series of Japanese mafia stories. If you like gritty settings, page-turning whodunits, and accurate portrayals of Kyoto traditions, then you’ll love Amy Tasukada’s gripping tale.
The first story in this series,Blood Stained Tea (The Yakuza Path, #1, was going to be hard to surpass for any author. It was bloody, shocking, and brilliant in it’s execution. And yet for Nao Murata and the series to continue, Amy Tasukada had to figure out how to grow this admittedly psychotic character, expanding Nao past the persona we know and his universe as well. The author has done so with each new story, figuring out a way to move her characters forward, into new situations, while keeping the past (which is key to Nao’s personality) and including new components and people.
Better Than Suicide (The Yakuza Path, #2) ushers in Nao as the head of the Matsukawa Yakuza syndicate. Here we saw Nao elevated to high position, yet still under assault by many factions, unsure of who to trust. The novel was complicated, labyrinthine in plot lines, showed Nao’s ability to adjust and his cunning, while he was still dealing with the fallout from the events of the first story. And it introduced Aki Hisona, the first person pov of One Thousand Cranes.
One Thousand Cranes marks the departure of the pov from Nao to someone who serves him, Aki Hisona, his personal secretary. I have to admit I miss that haunted, warped perspective of Nao’s. But it’s replaced here with one that almost equally obsessive. Aki has one love, one all consuming focus. Nao. Not that it’s returned. Because it’s not. Nao’s love is gone forever…killed in the past in a horrific crime he was a part of.
Obsession never ends well. And that’s the thought the flies constantly through my thoughts here in this story.
For Aki, being close to Nao is everything. Not exactly healthy. From many standpoints. For Aki exists within the Matsukawa organization and he’s not only been recently promoted from the rank of the new recruits but he’s now close to the “Father” of the Matsukawa Clan with all that means. Within the syndicate, there are reverberations, jealousies, and dealings, along with the police, and the annual Kyoto ceremonies to attend for Aki to keep up with. All that and his feelings for Nao too, a barely restrained killer or is he?
No, this is not a romance. This is someone who has a crush, or obsession with his boss, who is a psychotic killer and crime lord. Also, Aki is shy,gay, withdrawn, with a skin condition that keeps him covered from wrist to chin. Not exactly someone who fits in with the Yakuza model recruit mold. No, Aki cannot stay the same and remain next to Nao and he doesn’t. This story is his metamorphosis.
The author takes all these facts and uses them in a narrative that’s combines the delicacy of a cherry blossom and cutting edge of a knife. Nao is still that addictive blend of ruthless killer and lover/protector of historic Kyoto and its culture. Tea master and psycho. Even Aki seems at the end to realize he’s not sure which he will see…not that it matters to him. Here is it Aki that does the changing for his obsession. How the cranes fits in is just another joy and deep layer of this story and series.
This is a story and series you read for the complicated characters, the sliding maze of relationships, and a fog of a future that never looks bright. The writing is incredible, the themes addictive, and, somehow, however psychotic and bloody it gets, you just can’t let Nao go. Because he too is mired in the deep tragedy in his past. This saga has me in it’s grips. Once you start, you will feel it too.
None are stand alones. Read them all in the order the author intended. I highly recommend them all.
The titles of these stories are as much a perfect touch as are the covers.
Cover art is again perfect for the story and series.
Sales Links: Amazon
Published December 12th 2017 by Macarons & Tea Publishing
Series The Yakuza Path: