Tea, Anyone?

We just got back from a quick trip to the North Georgia mountains, and on our return managed a stop by the Dekalb Farmer’s Market. This has become one of my favorite places to shop for food items it’s a bit more difficult to get at home. I came home with a bag full of exotic mushrooms, some fresh made pasta, a loaf of San Francisco sourdough bread, and a container of lovely green tea leaves.

Tea is something I’ve gotten more involved in drinking lately as I move away from so much caffeine. Green tea is my preference, but only certain ones and only if you make it very carefully. For instance, after I’ve carefully selected the tea leaves, I’m very precise about the water temperature and length of time for steeping. I’m not sure I’m doing it right, but I am doing it to my own personal tastes.

I’ve not gotten so involved that I need to have a fancy tea service, and certainly not an antique pot that was created for the very involved Japanese tea ceremony. It was interesting to me, however, that an antique tea service created specifically for that purpose centuries ago, featured in the novel I was reading at the time. While the novel itself is a crime thriller, the detective works part time in the world of Japanese antiques and in this book he was involved in procuring a valuable antique teapot for a client. This was only a minor part of the story, which had much more to do with murder, contract killers, martial arts, etc. than with making tea; but still I found it interesting. For my review of the book, read on.

Pacific Burn by Barry Lancet is a fast paced, gripping novel. It plunges you right into the middle of a murder, going 90 miles an hour and picks up speed from there. It’s the third in a series featuring Jim Brodie, owner of a detective agency in Japan and part time antique dealer specializing in Japanese artifacts. Brodie would like nothing more than to leave the world of detective work and become strictly an antique dealer; but circumstances keep drawing him back into a world of crime and intrigue. This novel works well as a stand-alone, as I expect the other two do as well.

There are numerous fight scenes throughout the novel featuring various martial arts moves. The scenes are so well written the reader can almost see them playing out in front of them, even without martial arts training. The glimpse into Japan and the Japanese culture is consistent, although never so much the reader feels bogged down. Brodie’s experience in and understanding of Japan, its culture and its people is so well portrayed it translates to the reader without any additional explanation being required.

In this story, Brodie is called to a crime scene where he encounters the only witness to murder, a child who is also the grandson of a good friend. Fast forward to Brodie and his friend leaving a venue where a cooperative art exchange has been created. As Brodie and friend Ken exit the building, a sniper opens fire, striking Ken in the head. This sets up a whirlwind of activity on Brodie’s part, featuring globe trotting between the US and Japan as well as some travel within the US when Ken’s daughter becomes part of his concern.

This is the type of novel that has the reader reading “just one more chapter” until suddenly they realize it’s 2:00 in the morning and they have to be up at 6:00 to go to work. Once the book has been put down, it isn’t surprising to find the mind wandering back to its pages, wondering what is going to happen next and getting back to reading it as soon as possible. Because of that urge to find out what happens next and to finish the novel, the book becomes a fast read.

There is a mystery element to the novel. Who is behind the killings that seem to have targeted both Ken’s family and Brodie. Brodie comes face to face with the contract killer on several occasions, and manages through some well honed martial arts skills to survive these attacks. While he is aware there is a contract on both his life and the lives of Ken’s family, he has difficulty determining who has employed the killer. The killer, a well known assassin with the trade name of Steam Walker has a reputation of being unbeatable and unstoppable unless the contract is cancelled.

My only criticism of the book is that after several fights, they seemed to become somewhat tedious. It felt like some of them could have been left out without sacrificing the story or the intensity of the book as there seemed to be a few too many almost successes on Brodies part followed by a few too many unexpected setbacks. Still, the book is a strong entry into the crime thriller genre and is one I would recommend to anyone who likes a hard-charging, sometimes heart pumping read. There are numerous deaths and fights, so this is not one for those who prefer the more gentle type of detective fiction.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an Advanced Digital Read copy of this novel in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. This is one I would recommend to any of my friends who like thriller-type novels. 

For those of you who know me well, no, I have not given up my coffee habit. I still love a good cup or three, particularly in the mornings. I’ve simply expanded my drinking horizons to include the daily enjoyment of some green tea as well. I guess that’s a close to the wild side as I’m going to get these days.

Anyway, I wish you enjoyment whichever beverage you choose. Now is a perfect time to go brew a cup, pour a cup, have a cup no matter your preference, and indulge in a good book. So, for now I’ll simply say cheers and happy reading.