Three Assassins by Kotaro Isaka (International Bestselling Author of Bullet Train)

I think it’s a good idea to make Isaka’s books into film, such as happened with Bullet Train. They are certainly more plot driven than anything else, and if it is action you seek, there is no other Japanese author I can think of to provide the drama that Isaka does.

This wasn’t exactly a book I would choose to read at Christmas time, for there certainly is neither love nor peace within these pages. But, it came in ‘New’ at the library, so I checked it out, then promptly spilled a mug of coffee all over it. “Was there cream in it?” my friend who works at the library asked. “Yes,” I replied. So, I have a stinking suspicion I just bought myself a book which isn’t even worthy, literally, of giving away.

The three assassins are the Cicada, the Whale, and the Pusher. They are introduced to us as their roles revolve around a man named Suzuki, who is seeking retribution with a company named Fräulein, or Maiden. The company has a boss whose “idiot son,” has crushed Suzuki’s wife with his SUV, just for the thrill of it.

But, before he can kill the idiot son himself, Suzuki sees the son run over. Apparently, a man named the Pusher has thrust the idiot son into traffic, and he is crushed before the crowd’s eyes.

The Whale “forces” people to commit suicide at his boss, politician Kaji’s, request. His favorite book, the only one he ever reads and rereads, is Crime and Punishment. When his copy wears out, he buys a new one. Lives under a tarp in the homeless section of Tokyo, where he encounters the ghosts of people he has forced to die.

The Cicada feels like a puppet, manipulated by the strings beyond his control…

These three interact with one another in a somewhat unbelievable fashion; it seems their paths cross because they are all in a powerful underground world of murder. The scenes shift quickly from one event to another, as The Times (London) has said, “(it)…has a Tarantino meets the Coen Brothers feel to it.”

If reading a book which feels like watching a movie is your sort of thing, then this thriller is for you.