An Inspector Inoue Mystery

Progeny is based on an actual incident that occurred in Japan some years ago: a little girl was abducted from a toilet in a large shopping center and subsequently found, murdered. The incident shocked a nation that prides itself on the safety of its public spaces and its low crime rate.

In Progeny, three-year-old Makiko Kohara and her parents and older brother live in the sleepy rural town of Fujikawa in western Japan. When the little girl goes missing from the local mall while out shopping with her family, Chief Inspector Inoue of the local police gets the call reporting the disappearance while he is playing with his own son, coincidentally, one of Makiko’s playmates at her nursery school. Initially, it appears the girl may simply have wandered off, but as hours and then days pass, it becomes increasingly clear that she has been kidnapped and possibly killed.

Meanwhile, it is a harsh winter. The town is being terrorized by a string of cat mutilations and two rival bike gangs are causing havoc. With so much going on, the police are finding it a challenge to keep up. When little Makiko Kohara’s body is found, her murder sparks nationwide soul-searching and Inoue finds himself and his force the object of public scrutiny: roundly condemned for having failed yet to nab the culprit.

Like Imperfect Strangers, this second novel in the Inspector Inoue mystery series addresses sociological issues prominent in present-day Japanese society: its motorcycle gangs comprised of dissatisfied youth, the hikkikomori problem of shut-ins who voluntarily exile themselves from the outside world, discrimination against immigrants, including the descendants of Japanese who emigrated to Brazil in the last century and have returned to the homeland to find work.

Once more, Inoue must navigate murky waters to find the little girl’s killer before he – or she – strikes again.


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