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Crossfire Hardcover – Feb 6 2006
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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.
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
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
"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.
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.
Not only is the mystery/thriller aspect of this book captivating, but I found the ethical questions posed at the end to be of enormous importance: Does anyone have the right to take another's life? Is there ever a right reason to do so?
This was an outstanding book written by Miuki Miyabe who "was born in downtown Tokyo and worked in a law office before becoming a full-time writer. She is the recipient of numerous literary prizes, including Japan's most prestigious award for popular literature, the Naoki Prize. Crossfire was a major bestseller in Japan and has been adapted to film." (From the back cover of the book published by Kodansha International)