In Tokyo Girl, Frank Ryan, the pianist who centers this mystery series, is in Tokyo teaching middle-aged women to play piano. One of his clients, though, is a woman whose had a bit too much plastic surgery for his taste. She turns out to be the mistress of a top yakuza leader, Mr. Goto, who hires Frank to play at his jazz club.

Meanwhile, Frank is infatuated with a woman who rides his train. They finally talk and she quickly moves their relationship forward, inviting him to a love hotel on their first “date.” He’s falling for her, but there are a few hurdles to get past. For one, she says his boss killed her younger brother who had run away from home and war living on the streets by recruiting him to work at Fukushima reactor on cleanup. It is true, the yakuza did recruit Fukushima workers from among the homeless. She wants Frank to find a ledger with a list of Fukushima workers.

Meanwhile, his piano student is being abused by Mr. Goto and strange things are happening, such as a koi fish being butchered and put in his bed, a Japanese alternative to the horse head. This is all happening quickly without much explanation or context which is understandable as this is a short novella.


I was disappointed in Tokyo Girl. It has all the makings of a good mystery and a good mystery series, but Harvey chose to keep it shorter than it needed to be and to end it with a bit of twist, rather than a satisfactory resolution. I don’t want to spoil the ending, because it really is a twist, and amusing, in a grim sort of way. Let’s just say that cross-cultural detecting requires cross-cultural competency.

This is not a bad book, but it is disappointing that such a promising character and such an intriguing situation was spent on such a short, truncated story. There is another Frank Ryan mystery that precedes this one and one of the characters in it is mentioned in this, so it might be better to read them in order, but it absolutely not necessary to this second installment.

Tokyo Girl will be published on August 23rd.

I received Tokyo Girl from the publisher through a LibraryThing drawing.