Tuesday, November 12, 2013

You Might Like This Book

                                                                          Henry Mazel

I read the short stories of Henry Mazel a number of years ago at Our Echo, a website where writers can post their work. No worries about submitting and waiting for acceptance. Anyone who has a desire to post a story, essay, poem or musing can participate. It stands to reason that there will be many different levels of writing ability in this kind of venue. For me, Henry stood out as one of the more professional writers who always wrote stories that held my interest. He writes well with doses of humor scattered throughout, along with interesting facts of earlier eras. You can find a list of links to the stories he shared at Our Echo here.

A few months ago, I saw on facebook that Henry had published a novel called Red Chrysanthemum. The title and book cover both intrigued me. When I learned that the story was set in Occupied Japan immediately after the Japanese surrender at the end of WWII, I knew I wanted to read it. For several reasons. I like stories set in that era, I like novels that give a good historical picture of the WWII period, and I had gotten to know Henry through some story comments we left for one another and a few emails so I wanted to read his book. I purchased it on Amazon. And then it sat in a stack of books I had acquired but not had time to read.

I took Red Chrysanthemum with me when we drove to Dallas late last week. I read in the car both directions and finished the book just in time to devote my full attention to the fantastic fall scenery in the Flint Hills as we neared home.

The book is historical fiction, a detective story, and a love story woven into the mystery that Lieutenant Alex Rada falls into through his job in post-war Tokyo working as a translator for the Army. Rada is a wise-cracking disgraced ex-cop partenered with a Japanese man who works for the Occupation forces. It's a fast paced, easy read if you like detective stories. We get glimpses of what Occupied Japan was like immediately following the surrender, we see the softer side of Rada when he falls in love with a half-Japanese woman who is part of the mystery. A novel like this is a painless way to learn a history lesson. Anyone who lived through the 1940's will enjoy the celebrity names tossed in here and there. Many brought a smile as I remembered seeing or hearing them (movies and radio) in my growing-up years. There are political and military figures that will be familiar to readers, as well.

The author included a glossary of people and terms as well as a bibliography of books with information of that same period in time. A nice surprise in the middle of the book is a group of  photos taken in Occupied Japan.

If you like history and detective stories with a love interest, then you'll probably enjoy reading Red Chrysanthemum. The cover itself is a draw. My husband noticed it sitting on an end table at our son's this weekend, picked it up, read the back cover blurb and said, "I think I'd like to read this when you're finished." Kudos to Henry for a book cover that draws interest to his story within the covers.

1 comment:

  1. Nancy - Thank you very much for the detailed description and critique. It was quite gracious of you. As a I mentioned in my response on your page and mine, the Occupation period is a time that's underserved in fiction, and I'm really pleased you read and enjoyed it -- and I hope your husband feels the same. All the best, Henry