The Wrong Goodbye
Toshihiko Yahagi, Alfred Birnbaum
A classic slice of Japanese hard-boiled noir paying homage to the master of the genre: Raymond Chandler
The Wrong Goodbye pits homicide detective Eiji Futamura against a shady Chinese business empire and U.S. military intelligence in the docklands of recession Japan.
After the frozen corpse of immigrant barman Tran Binh Long washes up in midsummer near Yokosuka U.S. Navy Base, Futamura meets a strange customer from Tran’s bar. Vietnam vet pilot Billy Lou Bonney talks Futamura into hauling three suitcases of “goods” to Yokota US Air Base late at night and flies off leaving a dead woman behind.
Thereby implicated in a murder suspect’s escape and relieved from active duty, Futamura takes on hack work for the beautiful concert violinist Aileen Hsu, a “boat people” orphan whose Japanese adoption mother has mysteriously gone missing. And now a phone call from a bestselling yakuza author, a one-time black marketeer in Saigon, hints at inside information on “former Vietcong mole” Tran and his “old sidekick” Billy Lou, both of whom crossed a triad tycoon who is buying up huge tracts of Mekong Delta marshland for a massive development scheme.
As the loose strands flashback to Vietnam, the string of official lies and mysterious allegiances build into a dark picture of the U.S.-Japan postwar alliance.
Translated from the Japanese by Alfred Birnbaum
The Wrong Goodbye is a hard-boiled treasure, a Chandleresque elegy to a time of shady deals, femme fatales, and of course, murder. These are tropes with which mystery readers will undoubtedly be familiar. Yet this novel is also a beguiling peephole into a Japanese society that readers will perhaps not know so well; a world of US airbases, black markets, and corrupt ploys. While Toshihiko Yahagi may not be the heavyweight in the Anglophone world that he is in Japan, he very much deserves to be. Simply put, The Wrong Goodbye is a siren song of poetic noir. -- Nicolas Obregon * author of Blue Light Yokohama * Toshihiko Yahagi gives us Japan's answer to Philip Marlowe in the form of the heavy drinking lone wolf Eiji Futamura, who finds himself embroiled in a case that pits loyalty and personal friendship against power and political corruption. Shady things are going on in post-war Kanagawa, but nothing can stop Futamura getting to the bottom of it all, no matter the cost. A suspenseful, intriguing read. -- Nick Bradley * author of The Cat and the City * Yahagi offers a Japanese Philip Marlowe chasing deadly fallout from the Vietnam War. Proof Brits and Americans have no monopoly on great crime fiction. -- David Hewson * author of The Garden of Angels *
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