The Drowning God by James Kendley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Detective Tohru Takuda faces his own tragic past to uncover modern Japan’s darkest secret–The Drowning God.
Few villagers are happy when Takuda comes home to investigate a foiled abduction, and local police enlist powerful forces to shut him out. Takuda sacrifices his career and family honor to solve the string of disappearances in the dark and backward valley of his youth, but more than a job is at stake. Behind the conspiracy lurks the Kappa, a monstrous living relic of Japan’s pagan prehistory. Protected long ago by a horrible pact with local farmers and now by coldly calculated corporate interests, the Kappa drains the valley’s lifeblood, one villager at a time.
Takuda and his wife, Yumi, are among the few who have escaped the valley, but no one gets away unscarred. When Takuda digs into the valley’s mysteries, Yumi’s heart breaks all over again. She wants justice for her murdered son, but she needs an end to grief. Even if Takuda survives the Kappa, the ordeal may end his marriage.
With Yumi’s tortured blessing, Takuda dedicates his life to ending the Drowning God’s centuries-long reign of terror. He can’t do it alone. A laconic junior officer and a disarmingly cheerful Buddhist priest convince Takuda to let them join in the final battle, where failure means death–or worse. The journey of these three unlikely warriors from uneasy alliance to efficient team turns THE DROWNING GOD’s mystery into an adventure in friendship, sacrifice and courage.
Review (3 stars)
I am always drawn to Japan. It started with reading mangas in my teens though these days, I’d prefer Japanese literature (translated into English) and whatever other fiction set in Japan. As I’ve mentioned to a friend, I’ve just finished Colourless Tsukuri Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami before reading The Drowning God and will be picking up The Peony Lantern by Frances Watts for a read along next week. It is the Japanese culture that I am fascinated with and I can’t get enough.
The Drowning God is a mystery/horror novel in contemporary setting though with a flavour of the supernatural. Detective Tohru Takuda is no longer young and with his scars (both physical & emotional) he is just about ready to blow this case apart, even if it blew him apart too. Supported by his protégé, Officer Mori, and an old acquaintance, the monk Suzuki, Tohru forged ahead in vengeance as well as saving his home village.
The story is told from the perspective of Takuda and while, I quite like him, I’m really curious about Mori. I wished the POVs were alternated between the three protagonists as I think it will boost the dimension of the narrative. On the other hand, the local superstition / religion ensconced in some sort of conspiracy was quite brilliant.
It is a fairly easygoing read with some sword-swinging actions. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite find any surprising twists in the story but it seems to be (from the ending) that this book is the first instalment of a series so it could be a huge set up and I’ll be interested in the next book.
Thanks to Harper Voyager Impulse for copy of ebook in exchange of honest review
James Kendley has written and edited professionally for more than 30 years, first as a newspaper reporter and editor, then as a copy editor and translator in Japan (where he taught for eight years at private colleges and universities), and currently as an educational publishing content wrangler living in northern Virginia. He has a taste for the macabre, and he hopes you do, too!
Connect with James: website | facebook |twitter
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August 11 –Sapphyria’s Book Reviews
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