Tokyo Underworld: The Fast Times and Hard Life of an American Gangster in Japan by Robert Whiting. Fascinating book. The rise and fall of a westerner in post war Tokyo. Got everything from yakuza to mafia to prowrestling, sumo and good pizza. Fascinating read.
"Whiting's real-life protagonist, Nick Zapetti, arrived in Tokyo during the days of the postwar occupation and decided to stay. Jolted from a budding career in low-rent confidence games by a lingering bout of insolvency, Zapetti opened a restaurant on a whim. Against all odds, Nicola's Pizza became the Tokyo hotspot in the '50s for expatriates, ballplayers, entertainers, and politicians, and inevitably, the local mob. Zapetti's erstwhile adventures as a semi-honest restaurateur in a strange land frame the book's real story: the savage backstabbing and dirty dealing of Tokyo's business community, which overlaps so seamlessly with the yakuza at times that it's difficult to see where one entity ends and the other begins...
As for Zapetti, he eventually became a Japanese citizen and took his wife's last name. In poor health and dogged by the financial ruin of his pizza empire, Zapetti turned rabidly anti-Japanese: "You ever see the movie Rio Bravo?" Whiting quotes Zapetti as asking one of his foreign customers one night. "You remember the scene where the leering cowboy throws the money into the spittoon ... and Dean Martin, who's the town drunk, crawls after it? That's Japan's fantasy image of us. They want us to beg like Dean Martin."
Summer Knight (The Dresden Files, Book 4) and Death Masks (The Dresden Files, Book 5) by Jim Butcher. More good rousing adventure yarns... magic using P.I.'s in the vein of Harry Potter + Raymond Chandler.
Summer Knight - "Private detective/wizard-for-hire Harry Dresden is suckered into tangling in the affairs of Faerie, where the fate of the entire world-and his soul-are at stake."
Death Masks - "Harry Dresden is not having a good day. A vampire named Ortega is hunting the beleaguered wizard, intending to challenge him to a duel that, Ortega claims, will end the war between the vampires and the wizards. Harry has almost no hope of winning the duel, but soon he is preoccupied by another problem: Father Vincent, a priest, needs Harry's help in finding the Shroud of Turin, stolen by a trio of thieves."
Melody of Vengeance (Doc Atlas Adventure) by Michael A. Black. Fun and entertaining tribute and pastiche to the pulp heroes of the 1930's. Evokes Doc Savage, The Shadow, and others.
The Book of Fate by Brad Meltzer. I first read Meltzer years ago. An entertaining writer in, kinda, the Grisham/airport thriller vein... always enjoyed his books, and then I noticed in one of his novels all his Supreme Court Justices were named after characters from Alan Moore's comic book classic Watchmen. Having recognized a fellow geek, I always made sure to pick up his books. He even crossed over to comics in the last couple years writing Identity Crisis and arcs for the Justice League. He writes a good thriller, and this book was no exception.
"Set against a backdrop of Oval Office corruption, bestseller Meltzer's overblown thriller opens with a frantic assassination attempt on President Leland Manning, who manages to elude the gunfire. Manning's deputy chief of staff, Ron Boyle, is killed, and his top aide, the cocky, ambitious Wes Holloway, is left facially disfigured. Eight years later, his motivation and confidence drained by his handicap, Holloway still toils away for the out-of-office Manning, fetching refreshments and handling the daily social calendar. On a goodwill junket to Malaysia, however, Holloway spots Boyle, surgically altered, but unmistakably the same man who was supposed to be dead and gone. From this turning point, Meltzer (The Zero Game) follows Holloway step by excruciatingly slow step as he tries to find out what really happened eight years earlier. Authentic details about Washington politics and historical mysteries enliven the predictable path."
Atom: My Life in Miniature by Gail Simone. More fun from Gail Simone, featuring Ryan Choi, Chinese physicist and new immigrant to the US, taking up the mantle of second generation superhero the Atom. Great fun. Great sci-fi. Great sense of humor. Named Entertainment Weekly's best new comic of the year.
"Strange things are happening in Ivy Town. In fact, it appears that the whole town's been experimented on for decades. Enter Ryan Choi -- the young hotshot professor filling the empty slot on Ivy University's teaching staff...and who inadvertently fills the role as the all-new super-heroic Atom!
Can Choi make a difference in a town more creepy and mysterious than anyone ever realized? And can he live up to the towering legend of his predecessor, the original Atom, Ray Palmer?"
Carved in Bone: A Body Farm Novel by Jefferson Bass. Entertaining whodunnit? featuring Tennessee's The Body Farm and featuring forensic anthropology. Think a really good ep of CSI or the early works of Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetti series, before they went downhill.
"The pseudonymous Bass makes a successful first foray into fiction. The author is actually the writing team of Dr. Bill Bass, the forensic anthropologist who founded the legendary Body Farm (Tennessee's experimental laboratory devoted to the study of the way human corpses decompose), and Jon Jefferson, a journalist and filmmaker. Their new sleuth, Dr. Bill Brockton, is obviously based on Dr. Bass, sharing his first name, initials and his status as founder of the Body Farm... Still recovering from the emotional devastation of his wife's death, Dr. Brockton stumbles across a mummified female body, and his passion for the truth enmeshes him in a probe that verifies rumors of local corruption. His particular skills are vital to identifying the corpse as well as those who might have been motivated to kill the victim decades earlier".