The Hayate Shinkasen leaves Tokyo for Morioka. A number of extraordinary people are on board, they are all dangerous – and on a mission:
Nanao must steal a suitcase and get off at the next station, but he isn’t the world’s unluckiest assassin for nothing…
Kimura is bent on revenge, but his target, known as The Prince, manages to turn the tables…
Lemon and Tangerine have rescued the son of a crime boss and are supposed to accompany him home, but when the boy winds up dead, they instead must find the killer before they arrive, if he’s still on board…
And while the train makes its way up north, these passengers’ goals become intertwined, and in the end, it’s all about who’s the last one standing.
Talk about a fast-paced thriller – no pun intended! I finished the book within a day. There is no ounce of fat in the narrative, every person, every thing that is introduced has its role to play at some later point. That means, you’ll need to pay attention throughout, but this never becomes tedious or annoying.
Interestingly, although all five main characters were decidedly bad people that I would go out of my way to avoid, I found myself rooting for one – and absolutely despising another.
If I had to quibble about something, it would be the introduction of two new characters close to the end, it felt too much of a “deus ex machina” to me. However, since they brought the story to a nice close and dealt beautifully with my least favourite bad boy, I will forgive the author for doing so.
Kotaro Isaka, born 1971, is a Japanese author of mystery fiction. He studied law at Tohoku University and after graduation worked as a systems engineer. His debut novel won the 2000 Shincho Mystery Club Prize and Isaka became a full time writer afterwards. He writes novels, short stories and manga, and 12 of his books have been adopted for film or TV so far. This particular thriller even made it to Hollywood and Brad Pitt.
It seems that the film has “adapted” the novel quite a bit – the train now goes into the opposite direction to Kyoto, for example – so if you’d like to read the original,you can get it from amazon.