Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Literary Fiction, Noir, Suspense

Return to Hiroshima Bob Van Laerhoven 4* #Review @bobvanlaerhoven @BlackthornTours #CrimeFiction #Noir #Suspense #Japan WW2 #HistoricalCrimeFiction #BookTour #BookReview #ReturntoHiroshima

1995, Japan struggles with a severe economic crisis.
Xavier Douterloigne, the son of a Belgian diplomat, returns to Hiroshima, where he spent his youth, to come to terms with the death of his sister.

Inspector Takeda finds a deformed baby lying dead at the foot of the Peace Monument, a reminder of Hiroshima’s war history.

A Yakuza-lord, rumored to be the incarnation of the Japanese demon Rokurobei, mercilessly defends his criminal empire against his daughter Mitsuko, whom he considers insane.

And the punk author Reizo, obsessed by the ultra-nationalistic ideals of his literary idol Mishima, recoils at nothing to write the novel that will “overturn Japan’s foundations”….

Hiroshima’s indelible war-past simmers in the background of this ultra-noir novel.

Clandestine experiments conducted by Japanese Secret Service Unit 731 during WWII are unveiled and leave a sinister stain on the reputation of the imperial family and Japanese society.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from Blackthorn Book Tours in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is a complex story set in the 1990s, but with historical references to Japan in WW2. It explores the fallout of the Hiroshima nuclear bombing and how it impacted on the inhabitants in a fictional context. It also reflects on the factors contributing to the bombing, focusing on horrific and secret war experiments and other forms of inhumanity dealt out under the auspices of war.

There are many characters, all damaged either emotionally or physically. Initially, their lives are unconnected, but their stories interweave in an impactful way in this noir story. This is disturbingly depraved and violent in parts with little light relief. The author uses intricate plotting, vividly portrayed characters and skilful use of sensory imagery, allowing the reader to experience Japanese culture and life in an immersive way.

The battle between traditional and modern and the obsession with power is a recurring theme. It is a difficult novel to read both in complexity, and because of the evil it exposes, but it absorbing and fascinating too.

Bob van Laerhoven

Van Laerhoven is a 67-year-old Belgian/Flemish author who has published (traditionally) more than 45 books in Holland and Belgium. His cross-over oeuvre between literary and noir/suspense is published in French, English, German, Spanish, Swedish, Slovenian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Chinese.

In Belgium, Laerhoven was a four-time finalist of the ‘Hercule Poirot Prize for Best Mystery Novel of the Year’ with the novels ‘Djinn’, ‘The Finger of God’, ‘Return to Hiroshima’, and ‘The Firehand Files’.

In 2007, he became the winner of the coveted Hercule Poirot Prize with ‘Baudelaire’s Revenge’, which, in English translation, also won the USA Best Book Award 2014 in the category ‘mystery/suspense’.

His first collection of short stories ‘Dangerous Obsessions’, published in the USA in 2015, was chosen as the ‘best short story collection of 2015’ by the San Diego Book Review. The collection has been translated into Italian, (Brazilian) Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish. 

Return to Hiroshima’, his second crime novel in English, was published in May 2018 by Crime Wave Press(Hong Kong).  The British quality review blog Murder, Mayhem & More has chosen ‘Return to Hiroshima’ as one of the ten best international crime novels of 2018. MMM reviews around 200 novels annually by international authors.

Also in 2018, the Anaphora Literary Press published ‘Heart Fever’, his second collection of short stories. ‘Heart Fever’ was one of the five finalists of the American Silver Falchion Award. Laerhoven was the only non-American finalist. The collection has been translated into Italian and Spanish. A German translation is currently in production.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime

The Comfort of Distance Ryburn Dobbs 4*#Review #BookTour #RyburnDobbs #CrimeFiction #Detective #SebastienGrey #TheComfortofDistance #BookReview #ForensicAnthropology

Sgt Hank LeGris stares down at the crushed and gaping skull in the dirt. It’s the second time in just a few weeks that human remains have been found in the Black Hills. Citizens are getting restless. Is it a rogue mountain lion, as many people suspect? Or something even more sinister?

Sebastien Grey is a brilliant forensic anthropologist with debilitating social phobia. When he is asked by his estranged brother to come to South Dakota and help identify who, or what is leaving body parts scattered across the county, he discovers much more than the cause of these strange deaths.

Amazon UK

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

This is a fascinating detective story with quirky yet relatable characters and forensic anthropological details. The discovery of a human skull adds credence to the fear that mountain lions are attacking humans, but Sgt Hank LeGris doesn’t think so. Despite their estrangement, he calls his brother forensic anthropologist Sebastien Grey sure he can help solve the mystery.

Sebastien Grey has mental health issues which define him, at least in his eyes, but he is sure of his forensic skills and decides to honour his brother’s request. The story follows detailed forensic and police investigation into the missing human remains and the mountain lions.

The detective team have a believable dynamic with a good balance of personal life and investigation details. The plot has twists and concludes realistically, but it’s Sebastien and his forensic anthropological knowledge that gives this book its originality and addictive quality.

Ryburn Dobbs

Ryburn Dobbs taught biological anthropology and forensic anthropology at several colleges throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and spent ten years as a forensic anthropologist, working dozens of death investigations. In addition to his anthropological pursuits, Ryburn also worked as an investigative analyst specializing in homicides and unsolved cases. The Comfort of Distance is Ryburn’s first novel and the first in the Sebastien Grey series. For more information about Ryburn, his blog, and updates on new books please visit