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Michael Pronko Books In Order

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Publication Order of Detective Hiroshi Books

The Last Train (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Moving Blade (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon
Tokyo Traffic (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon
Tokyo Zangyo (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon
Azabu Getaway (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon
Shitamachi Scam (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of A-maze-ing Tokyo Non-Fiction Books

Beauty and Chaos: Slices and Morsels of Tokyo Life (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
Tokyo's Mystery Deepens (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
Motions and Moments: More Essays on Tokyo (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon

Michael Pronko
Michael Pronko was born in Kansas City, but has taught, lived, and written in Tokyo, a very different world than Tokyo.

After he graduated from Brown University in philosophy, he hit the road. He traveled around the world for two years working different odd jobs, and finally returned to school. After he got an MA in Education, he got a call from Beijing at five in the morning offering him a teaching job. He took it and he lived in Beijing for two years, teaching English, traveling around the country and writing.

Michael spent more time traveling, finishing degrees, a PhD in English at the University of Kent at Canterbury (on Dickens and film adaptation) and Comparative Literature in Madison, Wisconsin. He spent a ton of time writing, “Woodshedding”, as jazz musicians call it.

Michael finds that the most thrilling part of writing is the internal excitement. Making connections, getting into some trouble (whether it be with technique, ideas, or characters) and getting out of it, learning things through the writing. All of it is amazing to him. The different moments of breakthrough, insight, and understanding are things that make the suffering of writing actually worth it all.

Through the years in Tokyo, he has written regular columns for several publications: Newsweek Japan, The Japan Times, Jazz Colours, ST Shukan, Jazznin, and Artscape Japan. Michael has also published award-winning collections of essays and has published books in Japanese and two textbooks in Japanese and English.

“The Moving Blade” was picked as one of the Best Indie Mysteries & Thrillers of 2018 by Kirkus Reviews. “Tokyo Traffic” won a Shelf Unbound Award for Best Independently Published Book, Best Mystery Book Excellence Awards for Mystery, and an Independent Press Award for Mystery and for Thriller.

Michael’s debut novel, called “The Last Train”, was released in the year 2017. His work is from the mystery genre.

“The Last Train” is the first novel in the “Detective Hiroshi” series and was released in the year 2017. In Tokyo, Detective Hiroshi Shumizu investigates white collar crimes. He has lost his girlfriend and still dreams about his time studying in America, however with a stable job, a half-empty apartment and his own office, he has settled in.

An American businessman winds up dead, Takamatsu (his mentor) calls him to the site of this gruesome murder. One glimpse from a security camera video suggests the killer could be a woman, however in Japan that is unlikely. Hiroshi soon learns how close suicide and homicide can seem in a city filled with high-speed trains just one step, or push, away.

Takamtsu pulls Hiroshi out to the skyscraper offices and the hostess clubs in Tokyo while hunting down this killer. She is attempting to escape from Japan for a new life by playing a high-stakes game of insider information. In order to find her, Hiroshi digs deeper into Tokyo’s more ominous and intricate market for selling and buying the most expensive land in all the world.

When Takamatsu unexpectedly vanishes, Hiroshi teams with Skaguchi, an ex-sumo wrestler. They scour the corporate offices, sacred temples, and industrial wastelands of Tokyo to locate where Takamatsu went, and why a woman would be driven to commit to murder when she appears to have it all.

After spending years in America and lost in clean and neat spreadsheets, Hiroshi confronts some of the stark realities of the largest city in all the world, where insider information can travel in an instant from the top investment firms to the very bottom of the working world, where teenage hostesses and street-level punks sell their own souls for a tiny cuts of highly lucrative land deals. Hiroshi is determined to cut through much of Japan’s ambiguities, and dangers, in order to locate the murdering ex-hostess before she is able to extract her final revenge, which might just be him.

“The Moving Blade” is the second novel in the “Detective Hiroshi” series and was released in the year 2018. When Bernard Mattson, the top American diplomat in Tokyo, gets killed, he leaves more than a lifetime of successful Japan-American negotiations. He leaves behind boxes of research, one missing manuscript, a tangled web of relations, and a lost keynote speech.

When Jamie, his alluring daughter, comes back from America looking for answers and finding only threats, Detective Shimizu gets dragged from the safety of his office into the street-level realities of Pacific Rim politics.

Hiroshi, who is aided by Sakaguchi (an ex-sumo wrestler), hunts for the killer from government offices to back alley bars, military conspiracies and through anti-nuke protests. Once two more bodies show up, Hiroshi has to pick between duty and desire, procedure or violence, before the murderer silences his next victim.

“Tokyo Traffic” is the third novel in the “Detective Hiroshi” series and was released in the year 2020. Sukanya (a young Thai girl), who is running from a life that she did not choose, and in a city that she does not know, gets lost in Tokyo’s vastness. With some stolen money and her Bangkok street smarts, she is able to stay ahead of her former captors that will do anything they have to in order to recover the computer she stole from them. After befriending a Japanese girl, named Chiho, that lives in an internet cafe, Sukanaya plans on getting rid of her pursuers, along with her past, forever.

At the same time, Hiroshi leaves the safety of his office to investigate this porn studio where one savage triple homicide happened. The accounts of the studio point him different directions at the same time. Together with Sakaguchi and Takamatsu, he tracks the killers through Tokyo’s music clubs, bayside docks and byways, teen hangouts, and right into the underbelly of the global economy.

While bodies wash up out of Tokyo Bay, he attempts to locate the Thai girl that is at the core of all of it, whose name he does not even know. He reveals a human trafficking ring as well as cryptocurrency scammers whose connections extend right to the highest levels of Tokyo’s power elite.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Michael Pronko

2 Responses to “Michael Pronko”

  1. David: 9 months ago

    That is not a Hiroshi story. That is a detective Kaga of author Keigo Higashino. The book is called Newcomer.

  2. William Henry Plauth, Jr.: 2 years ago

    I first became enthralled with Detective Hiroshi when he solved the mystery of a woman garroted in her apartment with the murderer using a cord stolen from a childs spinning top. I have told friends how captivating Hiroshi was and have tried and tried to find that story but to no avail. Can you help me> Where did I read that account? I have become a fan of Michael Pronko’s stories and essays just on the strength of that initial read. Thank you. Dr. william Plauth, Jr. (retired MD)


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