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Matthew Legare Books In Order

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Publication Order of Max Dietrich Books

An American Putsch (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Reiko Watanabe & Inspector Aizawa Books

Shadows of Tokyo (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon
Smoke Over Tokyo (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon
Treason in Tokyo (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Tom Lai Books

Shanghai Twilight (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
Reds and Whites (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon

Matthew Legare is a thriller, suspense and historical fiction author that is best known for his debut novel “Shadows of Tokyo.” Legare breathes and lives writing and his passion for fiction and history have combined to tell stories of fascinating but little-known events from the past. He tells historical fiction set in post-World War II Japan that blends contemporary thriller with a pulp magazine style to make for pulsating reads.

Matthew was inspired to write his debut novel “Shadows of Tokyo” during a time when he was interested in Japanese history. A history buff, he had been fascinated by the many assassinations and coup d’état attempts that took place in the years leading to the breakout of the Second World War. While these are typically glossed over in the West, it was monumental in Japan. The Japanese army took control of their government and then invaded China before going on to attack Pearl Harbor. But even that line of thinking is plain wrong and simplistic. The country had experienced several unsuccessful attempts at a coup before then. Legare also believes that the idea of Japan as a military dictatorship was also not the whole story. For instance, the Japanese had more freedom as compared to their counterparts in Stalinist Russia or Nazi Germany. Moreover, there was a mass culture of movies, fashion, and music that was inspired by the West. Additionally, there was no clear cut dominance in politics as several factions frequently fought to gain the upper hand. Legare realized that there were very few if any novels telling of this period of Japan’s history and thus set out to write one. He had real thriller and detective novels set in Great Depression America, Weimar Berlin and Interwar Shanghai and wanted to write something similar for Japan. It provided an opportunity to combine his love for history and the thriller detective genre in a first for Japanese history. His “Inspector Aizawa/Reiko Watanabe” series harks back to 1930s Japan where Inspector Aizawa and Reiko thwart brewing coup d’états, criminal conspiracies and assassination plots.

Matthew Legare often reads academic books when writing historical fiction but believes that they only provide an overview. When penning “Shadows of Tokyo,” he read memoirs of Westerners and Japanese that lived in the 1930s and 1920s in addition to contemporary news accounts. He found that most works published during the time provided personal perspectives rather than just a take on political events. Reading “Behind the Rising Sun” by James Young, he discovered than many Japanese women had a preference for drinking gimlets. As such, this became the drink of choice for his lead character Reiko. “Government by Assassination” by Hugh Byas was insightful into the motives of patriotic societies and Japanese assassins and these he incorporated into his novels. Apart from literature, Legare also used the movies for his research. He watched more than fifty silent Japanese films made in the period between 1920 and 1935. The movies helped provide insights into products consumed during the period, the layout of the apartments, the people’s body language and the furniture. He was shocked at how many Western fil posters were to be found in Japanese movies that he included them when he was making Reiko’s apartment. This is historically accurate and a great fit for her moga character.

Matthew Legare’s “Shadows of Tokyo” of the “Reiko Watanabe / Inspector Aizawa “series is set during the 1930s, when Japan was in a period of aggressive expansion. The economy had been ravaged by external shocks and this had made Japan seek to expand its empire into China. The novel opens to Kenji Aizawa a police inspector getting an anonymous call reporting an assassination plot targeting a prominent statesman. Reiko Watanabe is the secret informant that happens to be the plot mastermind’s geisha mistress. She is an outspoken and headstrong woman that hates being a geisha and prefers modern life. Her lover is Masaru Ryusaki a man educated in the United States that had lately become a fascist firebrand. Ryusaki and his allies in the Imperial Army are conspiring to overthrow the Japanese government and then set up a military dictatorship. Inspector Aizawa and Reiko are torn between duty and honor and decide to forge an alliance and work together to stay ahead of the fanatical Ryusaki. In the meantime, they learn of a shadowy cabal with tentacles that reach into the highest levels of international finance, government and even the Imperial Throne. Set during the Great Depression that coincided with the Japanese takeover of the Chinese province of Manchuria, it brings to life the dangerous and turbulent prewar Japan.

“Smoke Over Tokyo,” the second novel of the series opens at a time when Japan is still in the grip of assassinations, scandals, and economic depression. It was during this time that a popular politician commits suicide in mysterious circumstances while he was having lunch with Chizuru Okamura. Police Inspector Aizawa is in charge of the investigation and asks Reiko Watanabe the geisha spy to help him. She is best suited at infiltrating the underworld organization that is the Okamura gang by going undercover. It is not long after going undercover that she finds herself in the middle of a power grab between Lieutenant Katsuro Okamura and his sister Chizuru both of whom want control over the gang. Using deceit and bribery, Chizuru is poised to become a leader of the government even as Katsuro is looking to install a military dictatorship after his coup d’état. Inspector Aizawa and Reiko now need to thwart plots that involve assassination, the Army’s Secret Service, Charlie Chaplin, corruption and opium dens even as the future of Japan is in jeopardy. The novel merges fiction with historical fact set in a world full of intrigue and danger.

Matthew Legare takes a different direction with his third novel “Shanghai Twilight.” It is a noir thriller that takes a look at the tensions between China and Japan which have reached a boiling point. Tom Lai is a Chinese American expatriate that has enough troubles of his own. He is a supporter of the Chinese Nationalist Party and runs and owns a very successful nightclub. Given how well his life is going, he intends to embark on a new life with Mei Chen his glamorous mistress. When the Green Gang, the infamous crime syndicated based in Shanghai accuses him of working with the Japanese, he is given two days to disprove the allegations or else he would be killed. Scouring decadent and glitzy Shanghai, Tom finds evidence that an American Consulate officer who happens to be his best friend is the one working with the Japanese. But in the shadowy world of espionage, he does not now who or what he can believe anymore. He will need to depend on Mei Chen, his personal bodyguard, and the Chinese Army if he is to get out of this alive and clear his name. But he will also have to avoid a sadistic Chinese gangster, Japanese agent provocateurs, and corrupt cops even as the city is threatened by full-scale war.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Matthew Legare

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