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Crossfire [Hardcover]

Miyuki Miyabe
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Feb. 6 2006

Death Wish meets Firestarter in a provocative mystery thriller set in Tokyo.

Young, pretty Junko Aoki was born with the gift of pyrokinesis—the ability to start fires using just willpower. When the police and law courts fail, Junko mobilizes her talent to bring violent criminals to justice.

A chance encounter sends her on a mission to rescue a young woman abducted by a vicious gang. The trail of bodies Junko leaves across Tokyo attracts the unwanted attention of two very different groups: a secretive vigilante league known as the Guardians and the arson squad of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department.

Detective Chikako Ishizu's initial bafflement turns to surprise as she is forced to reconsider a lifetime of methodical thinking while wrestling with the growing mountain of evidence on Junko's pyrokinetic skills. Hardly able to keep up with Junko's killing spree, Detective Ishizu finds herself drawn deeper into a case that defies belief.

Meanwhile, as Junnko's crusade against evil gains momentum, she finds it increasingly difficult to control her power over life and death, and innocent people are getting caught in the crossfire.


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From Publishers Weekly

This provocative paranormal police procedural from the prolific Miyabe, like her two previous crime novels translated into English (All She Was Worth and Shadow Family), examines the dark side of Japanese society. The complex story is seen through the eyes of two very different women: Junko Aoki, who's afflicted/blessed with pyrokinesis, the ability to start fires through willpower, which she uses to avenge unsolved crimes, and Sgt. Chikako Ishizu of the Tokyo police department's arson squad, a pragmatic skeptic. Chikako and her partner gradually piece together a series of baffling cases in which suspected criminals, cars and even buildings are inexplicably incinerated. Their investigation leads to those with supernatural powers, including a troubled young girl, as well as to an underground citizens' organization of justice seekers. Despite uneven pacing and some unlikely coincidences, this startling genre mix keeps the reader turning the pages right up to the breathtaking climax. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Junko Aoki realizes she was "born with a power few others had, which meant it was something she was supposed to use." And boy what a power it is! Plucky young Junko can shoot raw energy from her fingertips that sets ablaze anything--or anyone--in her path. "I am a loaded gun," she muses while searching the Tokyo area for quiet ponds into which she can safely unload excess juice, "My mission is to hunt down monsters who live only to consume and destroy innocent lives." After Junko summarily sautes several teen toughs attempting to dispose of a victim in an abandoned factory, arson squad investigator Chikako Ishizu, a mother figure and dedicated cop, picks up her scent. But while Chikako tracks Junko, the firebug attempts to rescue the factory victim's girlfriend, and crispy corpses begin piling up. As it unfolds in a brisk, straightforward style reminiscent of a graphic novel or episodic video game, this supernatural Death Wish throws off lots of fun sparks and even finds time for some pyrokinetic mythology and a tragic romance. Frank Sennett
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
By Karoline TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
This book was all right. I liked how they showed both sides of the story and both point of views. It was a nice even exchange between chapters and it went smooth for the most part. I have to admit though, although the beginning of the book really got me it just started to fall short and falls flat midway and I found myself wondering what's going to happen next and how soon because to be honest, I was starting to get a little bored of the book. Not to mention besides the main characters, there were so many other secondary characters mentioned I was left wondering who this person was again and I had to either read back a few pages or commit to memory who they were. It got a little frustrating as they appeared for one chapter and wouldn't come back until much much later. However, I found myself a little more intrigued bit by bit on how all these characters had to be connected somehow to each other and I was left guessing until the last moment. It was actually pretty well done despite these little flaws.

I really did try to like Chikako but just couldn't do it. I was really trying to warm up to her but she was just flat. It just sort of seemed although she put the pieces together and helped solved the crime she really was just there for the ride. There wasn't much personality to her I thought. Unlike Junko. I think she was the main focus in the book hence why she seemed to be the only real character in the book that developed well throughout the book. Junko went from someone who was angry and out for justice to someone who finally found closure and absolute closure.

The plot moved fairly smoothly although there were a bit of bumps and blips here with background information which was useful in some parts but in some other areas of the book it wasn't really necessary.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining weekend read April 10 2006
By Isabella K. Badenoch - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I am a big fan of Miyabe Miyuki and this novel is not her best, but also not her worst - it is in the middle range. It is a very compact storyline and short novel, so if you want something different to read for a long weekend, I recommend this book.

The story was initially somewhat reminiscent of Stephen King's "Firestarter", since the main character can start fires at will, but that is pretty much where the similarity ends. As with her other novels, Miyabe entwines social issues, gender issues and other pertinent topics into her novel and this is what makes her writing so unique. Although not her best novel, it is well written and the story is captivating. I recommend it for a leisure read.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Psycho killers vs. Psychic killers June 27 2006
By Zack Davisson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Although being marketed as a mystery/police writer in the US, in her native Japan Miyuki Miyabe is a master of all genres. Science fiction, social commentary, juvenile fiction, mystery fiction...there are very few arenas where she has not sown her considerable talent. This third book to get an English translation is quite a departure from the reality-based "All She Was Worth" and "Shadow Family," entering a world of super-powered assassins and powerful conspiracy organizations.

"Crossfire" follows the lives of two very different women. Junko Aoki is a young and beautiful pyrokinetic, capable of unleashing devastating heat-based attacks using only her mind. She is a warrior in a personal war, seeing herself as a weapon, a scourge against the inhuman crime that she sees day to day in modern Japan. Chikako Ishizu is a middle aged detective in the arson department, an unexceptional woman of average abilities who owes her position to a political maneuver placing more women in detective positions. There paths merge when Chikako investigates a murder, the victim burned alive in an impossible manner. Her investigation forces her to leave her accepted reality, and enter a shadow world she never new existed. Behind it all, manipulating circumstances, is a group called The Guardians, a powerful group dedicated to delivering justice when the courts have failed.

Regardless of the genre, Miyabe's strength is her characters, specifically her women characters who come alive and bring an honesty to incredible circumstances. She doesn't force relationships, love stories, or anything else that would interfere with the main plot. Chikako is a married woman, with children, muddling her way through a murky world the best she can, well aware of the power that others wield over her and the directions she is being pushed. Junko is cold, having sealed away her emotions in order to control her explosive power. They could not be more different, but Miyabe maintains the appropriate tones as she switches between the characters.

While not a masterpiece like "All She Was Worth," "Crossfire" is a great read, fast paced and with plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader's blood pumping. Its great to be able to sample some of Miyabe's more fantastical adventures, and I hope that future translations allow for a fuller scope of her talent.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five stars for the experience March 13 2006
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I enjoy this author enormously. The first book I read by her was "All She Was Worth," which stands up with the very best of mystery fiction. While this one isn't as strong in terms of the "mystery," the author's strengths in character development and the manner of fitting the story into the contemporary Japanese milieu are very evident. I can think of few writers that make you care as much as this talented woman does. Having said all that, this book was a bit of a departure in that a part of the mystery deals with people with paranormal powers (fire starting or pyrokinesis). Two protagonists coexit, a wonderful middleaged lady detective from the arson squad, and the firestarter -- a young woman who must decide if what she is doing is ethical (for example, what about innocent bystanders? Is the death of a few of them worth the many, many who will be saved if she blasts a guilty person?) In addition, there is a shadow organization, the Guardians, who at times seem to be protectors, and at times. . . well, read the book. This author deserves to be a bestseller!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A spectacular read from a young sensation from Japan and one that American readers will love. Dec 1 2007
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Miyuki Miyabe began her professional career in a law office, but soon turned to full-time writing. She has published three prior novels to CROSSFIRE and has been awarded numerous literary accolades. She is considered to be Japan's number one mystery writer.

CROSSFIRE merges the mystery world and more than a bit of the supernatural. Miyabe's heroine, Chikako Ishizu, a veteran police woman who has to constantly fight male attitudes, is pushed into a series of arson/murders. No one can figure out who, or even what, started the fires. Chikako meets the talented and morose Detective Makihara, a man who has devoted his life to the idea of pyrokinesis after he sees his younger step-brother go up in flames before his very eyes many years before. Makihara introduces the idea of a human born with the ability to consciously start fires to Chikako's skeptical reaction:

"'The ability to start fires using willpower,' Makihara said, his light-colored eyes fixed on Chikako. 'That is the theory I gave the investigation team for the Arakawa incident. I told them they should deepen their knowledge of pyrokinesis in order to proceed with their investigation.' He laughed again in a mischievous way. 'That must make me sound pretty eccentric to you, doesn't it?'"

What makes Miyuki Miyabe's writing so profoundly intoxicating is not just her excellent plotting and characterizations (which are compelling). It is the ideas that she presents in her writing. She forces the reader to face some very tough questions about personal ethics; love; and what loneliness contributes to the human condition. The very lovely Junko Aoki is one of two haunted characters born with the unfortunately ability to start fires. What does a person do with that kind of ability? Can she use it for the good of mankind? How does she deal with people who would use her and her powers for their own ends? How will mankind react?

CROSSFIRE is a tragic story of love; a constant reminder of how making decisions about right and wrong can tear people apart; and is just a wonderful read. It's a "can't put it down once you start reading" book, and immediately the reader wants more of what this author has to offer. A spectacular read from a young sensation from Japan and one that American readers will love.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Firestarter"--Japanese style Aug. 13 2006
By David Bonesteel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Maybe more like 3.5 stars. Junko Aoki is a lonely young woman who uses her pyrokinetic abilities to avenge the victims of violent crime. A chance encounter with a gang of teenage psychopaths leads her on a personal crusade that brings her to the attention of the police and a secret vigilante organization called the Guardians.

Despite the cliched premise, this novel maintains interest, even though it felt a bit too long. Author Miyuki Miyabe presents interesting characters and some effective surprises. Her sure style of pacing and plotting derails a bit at the finale, which depends on a rather large coincidence. The translation was also a bit awkward at times, but I intend to read more from this author.
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