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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.)
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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
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