Tetsuya Honda’s popular Japanese police procedural, headed by Tokyo Metropolitan Police homicide detective Teiko Himekawa, debuted in translation in the US with last year’s The Silent Dead. The sequel, Soul Cage, bring another complex plot with clever twists and a cast of interesting characters that include the detectives who work alongsdie Reiko.

Don’t let the unfamiliar names throw you–a few chapters in their personalities become distinctive and easy to follow. There is a sly humor underpinning some of Reiko’s thoughts as her scenes are from her point of view and add to the complexities of the characters. There are also scenes from several of the others involved in this twisted case when a severed hand leads to a garage full of blood and no body in what is deemed an obvious murder.

The missing man is Kenichi Takaoka, a building contractor, and his severed hand was found in his work garage by his only employeed, a young orphan Takaoka has taken under his wing and raised to take over his business. Where is the rest of the man’s body? And who would murder him and yet leave behind his hand?

The case becomes more and more twisted, as Reiko navigates not only the personalities of the teams she must work with, but the history behind the dead man. Too many of her leads end without resolution, but one thread connects to the yakuza, the Japanese Mafia, and a scheme of forcing suicides to repay debts.

Then a friend of the missing Takaoka declares that a recent photo he’s shown is that of Takaoka. So whose hand do they have?

The fact of Reiko’s sex and her quick rise within the Met are also factors, as is the ‘crush’ of one of her colleagues and the competition she feels from the head of another team. More of these characters are revealed, making the working environment and its struggles another factor Reiko faces. A whodunit for mystery fans within the workings of a police procedural makes this a solid read.

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