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By Asa Nonami
Translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter

Kodansha, February 2007 ($24.95)
ISBN: 978-4-7700-3025-2

Reviewed by Cherie Jung

Takako Otomichi is a former motorcycle cop, now a detective who is paired with Takizawa, an older, more traditional Japanese detective. They are assigned to investigate a brutal murder. As the evidence leads them on a convoluted trail, someone or something is stalking victims on the streets of Tokyo, in the darkness of the night. It soon becomes apparent that their primary suspect in these vicious attacks is an animal, half-dog and half-wolf, trained to kill on command. Are these cases somehow linked? It doesn't seem likely. Now the challenge is not only must they solve the original murder case, they must also find and stop the wolf-dog and also catch the human giving the commands to kill.

I don't want to spoil any of the suspense by giving away too many details. Read the book for yourself. I just want to say that the author's description of the chase still lingers in my mind, several months after I first read the book.

Asa Nonami is a prize-winning and much respected writer in Japan. Although she writes in many genres and has had nearly fifty books published, she is best known for her suspense and mystery titles. THE HUNTER is the first English translation of her work. In 1996, THE HUNTER won the prestigious Naoki Prize.

Readers not familiar with the methodical way Japanese police tackle an investigation may find this book a bit slow in the beginning chapters after the prologue. Readers who persevere will be rewarded with a nail-biting tale and chase that they won't soon forget. I am looking forward to more cases featuring Takako Otomichi.

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