Isaac Adamson first introduced Billy Chaka, a reporter for the fictional Cleveland-based teen magazine Youth in Asia, in his 2000 debut novel, Tokyo Suckerpunch. In Suckerpunch Chaka’s sent by the magazine to cover the Under-19 Handicapped World Martial Arts Championship in Japan, where he gets tangled up with yakuza while investigating the murder of a cult film director and becomes involved with a mysterious, beautiful woman. In the follow-up, Hokkaido Popsicle (2002), Chaka’s back East for some editor-mandated R and R, but when a Tokyo rock star dies mysteriously, Chaka’s on the case–and soon dodging some nasty yakuza and getting involved with a Swedish stripper. Chaka adroitly survived both of those misadventures, and now he’s back in Dreaming Pachinko (Perennial). This time he’s in Japan to profile pop-singer-turned-pachinko-addict Gombei Fukugawa for Youth in Asia’s “Fallen Stars” issue, but before too long he’s diverted by the death of a woman he meets in a dark, smoke-filled pachinko parlor. While on the case he uncovers a sinister blackmail plot, rescues some babes, and makes plenty of enemies. And yeah, there are some yakuza around. In all three hard-boiled, pop-culture-drenched mystery novels Adamson shows a real knack for noir, and he’s funny as hell to boot. Adamson reads from Dreaming Pachinko on Saturday, May 17, at 7:30 PM at Barnes & Noble, 1441 W. Webster, 773-871-3610.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jason Trock.