The Fine Art of Uncanny Prediction by Robert Goddard

Private Eye Umiko Wada, known as Wada, has her second outing in this book. Originally taken on as Kodaka’s secretary, his death meant that she slotted into his position to carry on his work. She has established herself as successful, not just at investigting but also at running a business and is now starting to win work on her own. However, her first client of the book is someone who had previously asked Kodaka to do some work for him and so is surprised to find that he is no longer around and grudgingly gives the work to Wada. She is asked to find a missing son.

Of course, this is not a simple request even though it might appear so and very quickly other people are drawn into the case, those that are missing and those that would like to find them. The root of the case started in the messy period after the war when Americans were running parts of Japan and for those in the right place at the right time, there is money to be made.

Goddard has written a dual narrative telling Wada’s present day story and Kodaka’s from the 1990s. The links become clear quite early on but the truths which bind them are not revealed until much later in the book. The two PIs are opposites in terms of character: Wada is a quiet, self-contained woman who considers everything before acting. Kodaka is the old-school PI, drinking with journalists most evenings.

There are many twists and turns in the book, including a side narrative based on Wada’s mother and the lodger she takes in. He turns out to be a disgraced Sumo wrestler who has been homeless for a couple of years and although he is not directed to intervene in the case, he does have an important role.

And the predictions? These are predictions about the earthquake and tsunami that are given to the government by a woman who rings up and reports that they are going to happen – a skill that the scientists can not replicate and struggle to predict. It becomes clear that others want to ‘own’ or manipulate this woman for their own benefits and she would like to live a quiet life where she is unknown.

An enjoyable read where I didn’t predict the ending.

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