Inspector Morimoto and the Two Umbrellas: A Detective Story Set in Japan, by Timothy Hemion, iUniverse, 2004, 157pp.
Another Amazon sucker punch. Fifty glowing reviews there, about this detective story set in Japan, written by a mathematician, no less. Right up my alley. I bought this for a quick enjoyable read while I was simultaneously embarked on a huge novel (next review). But instead of tearing through it, I found myself falling asleep on the train. The puzzle is carefully constructed, as you might expect, but there is hardly any action. Morimoto will go on a train ride and then come back and discuss the possibilities with his assistant. There are no side-plots, and not much fun detail.
There are loads of sequels, which leaves me with another common Amazon problem. After a not-great first book, do I give the rest a chance, hoping the series improves? I usually decide against it. Too many books, too little time.
And while I'm getting the boot in about overrated books on Amazon, I may as well mention the fantasy Lady in Gil. This was readable but not great. The oppressors were way too bad. But the author has an intelligent sense of humor, at least. Again, the start of a series, that may get better, who knows.
Paul replied: amazon reviews are useless for their stars and text. The only thing useful is the clustering (people who bought A also bought B). There is no way "lady gil" at 4.5 stars is as good as, say, "the great gatsby".
Atta wrote: for japanese novels about detectives, have you read "three-color cat" series (pardon my poor translation)? quite popular in late 80s. The author is Akagawa Jiro. Wiki refers the series as Mike-neko (Tortoiseshell Cat) Holmes series. His writing is humorous and entertaining. I cannot recommend a particular book though as i read some of them in 80s and forgot the details now. Try an earlier one, i suppose.