By: Michael Pronko
Publisher: Raked Gravel Press
Publication Date: December 15, 2023
Reviewed by: Katie Specht
Review Date: January 15, 2024
Award-winning mystery writer Michael Pronko has recently released his sixth book in the Detective Hiroshi series, entitled Shitamachi Scam. This new book follows Detective Hiroshi Shimizu as he works to track down a ruthless group of scammers who target retirees and the aged and rob them of their life savings and their pensions.
In this latest adventure of Detective Hiroshi, two seemingly unrelated murders have just been committed in Tokyo, one of a woman in her 70s and the other of a young college student who kept to himself. However, upon further investigation by Detective Hiroshi, it becomes clear that these two murders are actually connected and have been perpetrated by a cruel group of scammers. Along with the help of Detective Ishii from the women’s crime task force, they both diligently work to uncover the unsavory people behind the scams and, even further, to expose the truth behind those working for the scammers.
During the course of their investigation, an arson attack also takes place, and a real estate agent named Keisuke is beaten up so badly he ends up in the hospital. These violent acts at first seem unrelated to their case, but as they search for clues, a solid connection cannot be denied. As the detectives meticulously explore to reveal the reality of the crimes being committed in Tokyo, Detectives Hiroshi and Ishii find themselves going down a rabbit hole of corruption and criminal behavior, all orchestrated by merciless real estate developers with deep pockets.
With the sixth book in the Detective Hiroshi series, Shitamachi Scam, Pronko has achieved another well-paced, thrilling murder mystery set in the mega city of Tokyo. Pronko is no stranger to successfully penning captivating mysteries about criminals and corruption, and his latest novel is no exception. The dialogue is engaging throughout the story and keeps the reader interested until the very end. Pronko has quite a skill for writing a complex story with a myriad of characters, which can sometimes lead to confusion for the reader. However, Pronko establishes a helpful solution to this situation by adding a cast of characters list at the beginning of the book. For anyone who wants to start reading Pronko’s Detective Hiroshi series out of order and needs a little extra help keeping the characters straight, this index is extremely useful.
Pronko’s style of writing is fascinating as he describes crime scenes in such physical detail as well as including the emotions of the detectives as they process the crime scenes. Throughout the story, Pronko’s familiarity with Tokyo and Japan creates such in-depth scene descriptions for the reader that the city truly comes to life. The ability of Pronko to depict these settings in such detail adds another level to his storytelling that is not found in every novel, simply because not every author has this unique skill.
Quill says: With Shitamachi Scam, Pronko has created another winning story complete with corruption and murder, yet balanced with thoroughly developed characters that seasoned readers have grown to love and appreciate. Pronko truly has a gift for superb storytelling that is well-crafted, entertaining, and thoroughly captivating, all of which shines brightly in his latest release.
To learn more about Shitamachi Scam (Detective Hiroshi Series, Book 6), please visit the author’s website at: michaelpronko.com