Thursday, September 20, 2012


An Only In Tokyo Mystery

Last month, I introduced my readers to Jonelle Patrick's new thriller, NIGHTSHADE. If you missed that post (and giveaway), I hope you will enjoy my Review and brand new Guest Post by Jonelle Patrick. 
NIGHTSHADE is the first in an all-new series of mysteries that could happen only in Tokyo.

Yumi Hata went to school in the U.S., but now—back in Tokyo, living with her parents  and working as an English translator—she no longer fits in with the fiercely traditional Japanese. If not for her friend Rika, Yumi would feel completely isolated, so when Rika is found dead—suspected of jisatsu, taking part in a suicide pact—Yumi is devastated.

Fortunately, the police investigator in charge of Rika’s case is Yumi’s old schoolmate Kenji, who also wants to clear Rika’s name. As Yumi and Kenji dig up more evidence, they discover that Rika’s “suicide” is not what it seemed.
Chasing Rika’s murderer, Yumi and Kenji encounter doll-faced Lolita fashionistas, trendy bars inhabited by the social elite, and the dark side of a suicide pact website. The clock is ticking as they race to find the killer before the next victim is targeted...
Includes more than two dozen photos of Japan!

Jonelle Patrick divides her time between Tokyo and San Francisco and speaks Japanese well enough to go everywhere from kabuki theatres to maid cafes.  In addition to writing the next book in the series, she chronicles amusing cultural oddities in her blog Only in Japan and runs The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had website, which features photos, directions, and descriptions of off-the-beaten-path destinations that visitors don’t usually get to see unless taken by a local.  Visit her online at

Jonelle Patrick’s first book in her new Only In Tokyo Mystery Series is NIGHTSHADE. I read this as an eBook and must say I was pleasantly surprised. This debut showed an author who appeared to have much more experience than to be writing her first novel. The extensive background Patrick includes about the culture of Japan is fascinating and one can tell how much of herself is put into her work. The main plot is that of Yumi and Kenji trying to prove that their friend Rika didn’t commit suicide but rather she was murdered. If you'd like to read my review posted earlier, please visit my blog post HERE.

People always ask me how a girl who grew up eating Lucky Charms for breakfast can love Japan so much, and the answer has a lot to do with why Japan is also God’s gift to mystery fans.
At first, it's a familiar-feeling, westernized country, but if you dip below the shiny surface, you find that everything from pizza (topped with squid and seaweed) to wedding gifts (cash, in unused bills, facing the correct direction in the proper envelope, with the honorific suffix written after your own name crossed out) has been subtly tweaked to fit Japanese tastes and the Japanese way of doing things. People are people the world over – some are polite, some are rude, some are generous, some are greedy – but their motives for committing crimes can be so different in Japan that readers are still guessing whodunnit right up to the very end.
I think one of the great pleasures of reading mysteries set in other cultures is that without realizing it, you pick up really interesting stuff you didn’t know before about places that are strange and wonderful. (Please don’t tell my dinner party guests that the sole source of my scholarly knowledge of Navajo culture is Tony Hillerman, and my insightful comments about the inner workings of Venetian politics are straight from the pages of Donna Leon’s latest…!) Because I do this myself, I know how important it is to make all the cultural details as accurate as possible. I’ve lived in Japan off and on for a long time, and worn out many pairs of shoes exploring every neighborhood just for the pleasure of it, but while I was writing Nightshade, I still spent about ten days running around Tokyo with a long list of questions. Like, are there benches at the Nezu Shrine, or do my characters need to find a rock to sit on? Does the Komagome subway station have stairs or an escalator? A character with heavy luggage is going to be struggling with it if she has to lug it up three flights of stairs.
And it’s because I love everything about Japan – even the irritating bits – that writing about the weird and wonderful stuff I see here every day is such a pleasure. As annoying as it is to stand in line at the bank in order to exchange used banknotes for new ones, only to be told that even for wedding gifts "we don't provide that service unless you fill out this long form in Japanese," thinking about WHY that happened is always fascinating.
For example, Nightshade explores the questions: why would a modern, college-educated woman choose to have an arranged marriage? Why would three people who don't know each other decide to commit suicide together? Why do Gothic Lolita girls dress like Little Bo Peep Meets Lestat?
I hope that as Nightshade’s readers wend their way through the book, they’ll end up loving Japan as much as I do, and by the time they read the last word, understand not just with who dunnit, but why.
Nightshade was published by Penguin/InterMix on August 14th, and is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble online, and the iBookstore. If you’re interested in the strange and often funny things that cross my path every day in Tokyo, I invite you to visit my blog Only In Japan(, follow jonellepatrick on Twitter or check out my Facebook page by searching Jonelle Patrick Author. If you’re planning a trip to Tokyo, my website The Tokyo Guide I Wish I Had ( has wild and wonderful pictures, descriptions and directions to places most people don’t get to see unless they’re taken around by a local. 

--Jonelle Patrick
   Author of Nightshade
   Published by Penguin/InterMix


holdenj said...

So glad that Jonelle could stop by! I liked the premise of Nightshade back when Bingo first brought it to our attention for the giveaway. I like Jonelle's passion for Japan and smiled at her thought that Japan is God's gift to mysteries! I checked the e-book pricing! Very reasonable! Thanks!

Tea said...

I am really enjoying Multicultural fiction. Plus, I love mysteries and cozies too. I'm reading about China at the moment. I would love to read a mystery which takes place in Tokyo.