Saturday, 21 March 2015

The traditional symbol of Japan

Alexander Rada doesn't want to be called Alexander, or Ale for that matter - Rada will do just fine.  It's the summer of 1945, ad army Lieutenant Rada has just arrived in Tokyo to witness the official surrender of Japan to the Allied Forces on the deck of the battleship Missouri.

Rada has a history.  He was a cop in LA before the war.  A disgraced cop.  Along the way, he learned to speak Japanese, and now he's working at GHQ as a translator for General MacArthur.  To almost everyone's surprise, Rada is transferred to the military police to stop an assassination of a top communist.  And the ting is, Rada just hates communists.  he finds himself attached to a Japanese partner working for the Occupation forces - and even more attached to a unique, beautiful Japanese woman.  Love is in the air, and Rada is bound to mess it up.

Henry Mazel has brought Occupied Japan vividly to life n RED CHRYSANTHEMUM.  It is both a humorous novel and a dead-on history lesson of the period.  Through the pristine snowy mountain tops of Northern Japan, to the collapsed smokestacks, charred factories, and twisted metal presiding over the moribund Tokyo, get ready for a thrilling adventure where nothing is what it seems and no one is to be trusted - maybe not even Rada himself.

I am not really sure about this book.  I am not sure if it’s the subject matter which I know little to none about, or whether it’s the main character/narrator who is a really unlikeable character; or whether it’s the authors loquacious writing style.

As already stated the main character is really unlikeable, unintelligent, imaginable, and mostly every other ‘un’; plus he is not good at his job, yet he is asked to investigate a mystery by his superiors probably in the hope that he would fail to resolve it.   And yet again there is a love element, although not central to the main plot.  (Why do authors feel that readers cannot read a male centred novel without having a love element?  Guess what – we can!)

Very little is made of the setting which did not really do the books any favours and therefore the book lacked the atmosphere that such scene setting could provide.  Instead it felt as though the main characters were running around in a vacuum.

The author writes loads but says very little and there is not much action and very little back story.  What back story there is revealed slowly and painfully.  In short this story that goes nowhere fast what ending there was, was a foregone conclusion.  The narrator also talks to the reader, which I personally don’t like, but then again I dislike ‘Sam Spade’ type novels and films.  I would rather have things left ambiguous than spelt out so that I can come to my own conclusions.  For this reason I am unable to recommend this book as this reader thinks that, in short, it lacks readability.

Full Disclosure: ARC received from Netgalley for an honest review.

I rated this as 2 stars on Netgalley and 'It was OK' on Amazon (3 stars) and Goodreads (2 stars).

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