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Reiko Watanabe & Inspector Aizawa Books In Order

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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

Reiko Watanabe and Inspector Aizawa series by Matthew Legare
Author Matthew Legare pens the “Reiko Watanabe and Inspector Aizawa” series of historical mystery novels. The series began publication in the year 2018, when “Shadows of Tokyo” was released by Black Mist Books.

Matthew is a history buff and was inspired to write “Shadows of Tokyo” when he was interested in Japanese history. He was fascinated by the many coup d’etat attempts and assassinations that happened leading up to the Second World War breaking out. Matthew noticed how little if any novels there were telling about this period in Japan’s history and set out to write one of his own.

Police Inspector Kenji Aizawa and Reiko Watanabe meet in the first novel, and form a partnership through working together on this first case. In this first case, Reiko is an informant that works to help Inspector Aizawa with a case. In future books, they continue to work with one another on cases. This occasionally involves Reiko going undercover in some way.

“Shadows of Tokyo” is the first novel in the “Reiko Watanabe and Inspector Aizawa” series and was released in the year 2017. December of 1931 in Tokyo. While Japan expands its empire in China and unemployment ravages all of the economy, Police Inspector Kenji Aizawa gets an anonymous call about the imminent assassination of one leading statesman. The secret informant is Reiko Watanabe, the geisha mistress to the mastermind of this plot.

Reiko, who is outspoken and headstrong, prefers living a “modern” life to being a geisha and is terrified that her lover, Masaru Ryusaki (the American educated descendant of samurai), has become a fascist firebrand. Ryusaki, with his allies in the Imperial Army, plans on overthrowing the civilian government and establish the military dictatorship.

Reiko and Inspector Aizawa, torn between duty and honor, have to forge an unlikely alliance to stay a step ahead of Ryusaki and one fanatical Army officer. The whole time, they uncover a shadowy conspiracy that reaches into international finance, upper echelons of government, and around the Imperial Throne itself.

Set during the intersection of the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and the Great Depression, and brings the dangerous and turbulent world of prewar Japan to life.

Matthew paints such an authentic portrait of life in pre-WWII Japan, and you feel entirely immersed in the world while you are reading. The plot moves along at a quick pace, and by the conclusion, you wish the novel did not have to end at all, because you have grown that attached to the characters. The novel has surprisingly memorable characters and a unique cast of characters.

“Smoke over Tokyo” is the second novel in the “Reiko Watanabe and Inspector Aizawa” series and was released in the year 2018. May of 1932 in Tokyo. Japan is still plagued by scandals, assassinations, and economic depression. One prominent politician mysteriously commits suicide in mysterious fashion as he is dining with Chizuru Okamura, a Yakuza crime family’s daughter. Leading the investigation, Police Inspector Aizawa tasks Reiko Watanabe, his geisha spy, to go undercover in the world of the dreaded Okamura Gang.

Reiko quickly finds herself right in the middle of a power struggle between Chizuru and Lieutenant Katsuro Okamura (her brother) for control of this gang. Using deceit and bribery, Chizuru is poised to take the government over, as Katsuro looks to launch a coup d’etat and install a military dictatorship. While they attempt to thwart both schemes, Inspector Aizawa and Reiko has to untangle a web of conspiracies involving the corruption, Army Secret Service, opium dens, assassination, and Charlie Chaplin, while all of Japan is left hanging in the balance.

While they enter the dark underworld of 1932 Tokyo, filled with intrigue and danger, Reiko Watanabe and Inspector Aizawa quickly find they are fighting for their lives as well as the future of their city.

This is another fast paced thriller from Legare that features some interesting observations about Japanese pop culture and society. Matthew has clearly done extensive research to recreate Tokyo during this period. He also does a fantastic job of weaving historical events and figures into a police procedural novel. This novel provides a bit more insight into Reiko and you feel a bit more compassion about her and her situation.

“Treason in Tokyo” is the third novel in the “Reiko Watanabe and Inspector Aizawa” series and was released in the year 2020. In January of 1933 in Tokyo. On New Year’s Day, one of the closest advisers of the Emperor gets gunned down by the Red Terror Society, which is a gang of bank-robbing Japanese Communists. Police Inspector Aizawa and Reiko, get pulled into the investigation, however quickly find themselves swallowed by a fog of treasonous intrigue.

While Aizawa hunts down important leads, he has to work with Inspector Tezuka of the infamous Tokko, the Japanese Thought Police. Adding on to his troubles is the budding romance that he is having with the daughter of his commanding officer, the moga Minori Miyake.

At the same time, Reiko enters into the Japanese film industry and gets closer to a film director that has connections to the Red Terror Society’s leader, Utako Natsume (a former actress). Utako, who is now a violent radical, promises there will be a bloody Communist Revolution and secretly is being aided by an old foe, operating out of the shadows.

Despite all of the danger, Reiko and Aizawa have to unmask some darker secrets about the Emperor, the Imperial Army, and themselves. In this one, Inspector Aizawa and Reiko, as well as Japan itself, get pushed to the breaking point.

The plot is exciting and complex, the characters are still fully developed, the historical aspects are well researched and is centered around a largely unknown part of history. Matthew once again is in arranging fiction with facts into this exceptionally enticing tale, and makes for highly entertaining read from one cover to the other. Reiko and Aizawa are the perfect embodiment of these times, struggling between their duty and honor in an undoubtedly and highly Japanese way. You also get to learn more about them, too as characters.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Reiko Watanabe & Inspector Aizawa

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