Wednesday, 16 November 2016


 Image result for idolmaker jonelle patrick bancroft and greene
Idolmaker (An Only in Tokyo Mystery)
Author: Jonelle Patrick
Publisher: Bancroft and Greene
Pages: 388
ISBN 10:099757092X
Rating: ****

A Japanese pop star is swept away in the tsunami following a devastating earthquake, and her fans erupt in a frenzy of mourning. In the wake of the disaster, Detective Kenji Nakamura is sent to investigate a death at a local shrine, but amid the rubble he finds evidence that suggests the impossible: How could the head priest have been murdered by the dead idol? It doesn’t help that the star’s body is still missing, and Kenji’s childhood friend Yumi Hata refuses to believe that her favourite artist is dead. She launches her own investigation to convince Kenji he’s on the wrong track. But by the time their race for the truth lands them backstage at a sold-out memorial concert for the dead guitarist, the one thing they’ve both learned is just how quickly the hunters can become the hunted.

Bad luck comes in all shapes and sizes, but doubly so for two different people in the latest novel from Jonelle Patrick. Idolmaker starts out with detective Kenji Nakamura investigating a head priest who has died in the quake that has also lead to Yumi Hata postponing her and Ichiro's wedding. What looks like an accident where priest Yano has had an idol's head fall on him, later could be murder due to a Polaroid found on his person and a cell fone that has messages on it of his interaction with someone about buying one of his items on an auction site.

At first it is puzzling as to what Yano could be selling, but becomes clearer the more Kenji delves into the case. From what I could gather, the title of the book can be taken in two different contexts, on the one hand, it could be to do with the idol's head that fell on Yano or a music mogul who can make or break a singer (idol) to millions. It is taken as that pretty much on the cover.

Yano isn't the only death Kenji and co are investigating, there is a dead and missing guitarist who had fans, but an investigation from Kenji could find out the truth - and just in case he doesn't. Yumi is set to do an investigation of her own. From the end of Fallen Angel, Yumi has been looking for a way out of her marriage to Ichiro, in the hope she can have a normal life without threatening the peace in her home life. Yumi doesn't have much choice in the matter as it's an arranged marriage with a lot riding on her going through it and this makes it harder for her as she has to put aside her own happiness by being betrothed to him when he doesn't feel a romantic attachment to her. It seems the earthquake proves a distraction for her from having to marry him for now, though she knows she will feel the pain of having to marry him later once Ichiro's mother sets the date. For Kenji, his investigation also has him trying to find Flame, the guitarist with the VuDu Dolls as most news reports have her as being dead. Yumi has a special bond with the singer as she had got the chance to meet Flame backstage after one of their concerts where she signed her program. One of Flame's most unusual trademarks is her white, fingerless glove, another is the fact she doesn't speak. Flame was an idol to millions and as a fan herself, Yumi wants to find out what happened to her after the earthquake had washed away their studio.

Jonelle goes into the whole aspect of idols and rock bands aimed at girls, like the VuDu Dolls, mentioning how they can't have normal lives, private lives and continually having to watch what they do in the public eye. Jonelle, through the band's exploits gives us a good idea of how the music industry in run by moguls like Jimmy Harajuku and how some like him might be a controlling influence on their career. If we didn't know much about what goes on behind the scenes of famous Japanese bands, we do here as it is obvious from the content on websites dedicated to each band member that nothing gets past their adoring fans and it's as if they are being viewed inside a goldfish bowl of rehearsal, gig, tours and meeting star struck fans.

Idolmaker isn't only a mystery novel, Jonelle also educates the reader about Japanese life. There is certainly a lot to discover as we get into Yumi's attitude toward love, romance and duty to the man she will marry. This could be one of Kenji's harder cases yet where there isn't much in the way of evidence at first that ends in a thrilling climax which leads into the next novel, Painted Doll. There is a lot of chemistry between Yumi and Kenji, but her loyalty and sense of duty prevent her from taking their friendship any further. The big question in the story is whether the dead priest and the missing star could be related. Some moments in Idolmaker are scary, while others are written as a way of injecting some humour after a difficult set of scenes in some chapters.

Overall, Jonelle's detective and would-be lover team work out another murder mystery together like they are supposed to.