Adelstein begins his story with how he first came to be employed by the Yomiuri Shinbun, the most influential and respected newspaper in Japan. In doing so, he allows the reader to come up to speed along with him on cultural differences (never wear a black suit to a job interview in Japan) and also to become enlightened - or perhaps burdened is the correct word - as he learns the nature and depth of corruption in that most polite and courteous of civilizations. What's truly wonderful about this book is the very natural voice Adelstein uses to describe the 80-hour work weeks, the justice system, and the intense dedication and competition of investigative journalism in Tokyo. By natural, I mean that Adelstein's prose reads like he's talking to you, the reader, explaining and conversing instead of just transcribing notes.
And for every mobster, every monster, every depraved character the author encounters, he reveals something of his own nature, as every good writer must if his story is to find its way to the reader's heart. Because for every villain, there is a victim. The heartbreaking story around the disappearance of Lucie Blackman needs no purple prose, the kind often found in true crime tales, prose designed to titillate the reader's sense of horror. No, Adelstein tells the events of that case in good reportorial fashion, and the facts alone level a dramatic impact sufficient to wring our emotions.
Every good story, fact or fiction, has many layers, and Tokyo Vice has those layers. From cultural adaptation to an expose of crime, corruption, and social decadence, to personal moral and ethical dilemmas, Adelstein's story covers ten years of his life; ten years that made his life, in a world few Americans can ever hope to see or understand. And while the author is justifiably proud of his journalistic accomplishments, he does not even spare himself when it comes to getting the truth down on paper. Tokyo Vice isn't a book where the reporter goes home with a Pulitzer and writes his memoirs. It's a story where the reporter sits down, looks in a mirror and asks himself the really hard questions. And he won't always like the answers.
Disclosure notice: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher (or his agent) at no charge to me. The publisher (or his agent) neither stipulated nor received from me any promise that the book would be the subject of an endorsement or review, either positive or negative.