Book Review: Red Chrysanthemum by Henry Mazel

Red ChrysanthemumAlexander Rada doesn’t want to be called Alexander, or Alex for that matter — Rada will do just fine. It’s the summer of 1945, and army Lieutenant Rada has just arrived in Tokyo to witness the official surrender of Japan to the Allied Forces on the deck of the battleship Missouri.

Rada has a history. He was a cop in L.A. before the war. A disgraced cop. Along the way, he learned to speak Japanese, and now he’s working at GHQ as a translator for General MacArthur. To almost everyone’s surprise, Rada is transferred to the military police to stop an assassination of a top communist. And the thing is, Rada just hates communists. He finds himself attached to a Japanese partner working for the Occupation forces — and even more attached to a unique, beautiful Japanese woman. Love is in the air, and Rada is bound to mess it up.

I was sitting in a restaurant having finished my previous read, and with no paper book in my bag, it was time to scroll through my ebooks to see what I really should tackle next. I picked up this book from Netgalley a while ago, and since I was sitting in a Japanese restaurant, it seemed an appropriate book to start.

Set in the last days of WWII, Rada, a failed policeman and average interpreter, is sent to Japan to help clear things up. Immediately he is pulled into an investigation to find the man rumoured to be claiming to be the rightful heir to the Japanese Emperor’s throne.  Prone to putting his foot into his mouth, he is told very little, manages to annoy and be annoyed by the Japanese liaison he’s been assigned (not helped that the Japanese seem to have been told more than him), and his penchant for Oriental women has lead him to be attached to a Japanese prostitute who takes him for a ride.

The throne Pretender is found – and immediately assassinated – the killing being blamed on Rada, who subsequently goes on the run.  Unfortunately this is as far as I got with this book. Rada  has so few redeeming qualities, and lurches from one event to another with no apparent plan. I have read some reviewers that have enjoyed this book, but I have read over 50% and cant see it being pulled together in the last half to make me change my mind that much, sorry


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