06. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Courtney, Fiction, Mystery, Teen Books

Tokyo Heist by Diana Renn, 364 pages, read by Courtney, on 10/08/2013

While Violet’s mother is on vacation for the summer, Violet is sent to live with her artist father. After an embarrassing entrance at his art show, it becomes abundantly clear that her father is not particularly cut out to be a father. A wealthy Japanese art collector commissions Violet’s father for a mural in their Tokyo office and Violet finds herself heading off to Japan with her father and his business associates. In the meantime, the same associates have had priceless Van Gogh drawings stolen from their vaults. Violet suspects her father’s new girlfriend, but tells herself she’ll investigate more in Japan. Violet’s father sets himself to work on his mural while his employers deal with the Yakuza, claim to be the owners of the stolen art and imply that they will stop at nothing to get it back.
There are a lot of things that bothered me about this book. Many of the details are exceptionally convenient (Violet’s absent-minded father who can’t seem to be bothered to notice his daughter, the presence of Violet’s BFF who happens to be summering in Japan with her family, etc.), others are strictly red herrings. Violet is not particularly well-developed as a character, in spite of lengthy descriptions of her manga work-in-progress and her love of Japan. She is extremely naive and is fully convinced that she and her teenaged friend can solve a mystery before the Yakuza do. She never seems to question whether or not she is out of her depth. The mystery itself is totally convoluted and borderline confusing. The rest of the story isn’t well developed either, in spite of the fact that it drags on for 360 pages. There’s a lot of “telling” and not much “showing”. Odds are good the reader will figure out most of the mystery long before the characters do, provided they’re willing to stick it out to the end.

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