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Tokyo Heist


Tokyo Heist

Sixteen-year-old Violet isn’t surprised when her father fails to pick her up after work in the rain-clogged streets of Seattle. After all, the great artist Glenn Marklund couldn’t possibly think of anything other than his paintings, especially not his teenage daughter. This isn’t anything new to Violet, yet her fortunes change for the better once Glenn introduces her to his newest clients, the Yamadas, at his latest art reception. Kenji and Mitsue Yamada have commissioned Glenn to paint a mural in Tokyo, Japan, and after a brief bit of haggling, Violet finds out that she gets to make the summer trip.

"'Smart' and 'intelligent' are the words I would use when describing TOKYO HEIST.... Sometimes it’s nice to get lost in a different place in a summer read, and TOKYO HEIST provides the perfect getaway."

While the trip should be a time for everyone to kick back and relax, Violet discovers that the Yamadas are dealing with a little problem that could have big consequences. Apparently, some van Gogh drawings were stolen in their home, and to make matters worse, the head of a yakuza --- a Japanese gang --- is demanding that the original van Gogh painting be returned…or else. The problem is that the painting has been missing for years, ever since Kenji’s brother committed suicide. Even though the FBI is called in to investigate, Violet decides to do a little investigating of her own.

Once in Japan, Violet sketches out all that she knows. It could be Skye, her father’s latest mistress and art restorer. She doesn’t have an alibi during the robbery and looks suspicious enough. It could be any of Violet’s father’s latest workers who are looking to make a quick buck or two. Perhaps it is the Yamadas’ nephew, Hideki, who commissioned the mural Glenn is working on and just wants to understand the legacy of his dead father. More than likely, though, it’s one of the yakuza, who are all over Japan and have no problem threatening --- or killing --- others.

Before Violet gets swept up in the dream that a 16-year-old could ever find a lost valuable painting and save the day, she gets a dose of reality. Death threats are made on her father, and the clock is quickly winding down until the original van Gogh must be turned over to the yakuza. Everyone is a suspect, and the clues left behind to find the lost painting are minimal and confusing at best. This may be one Tokyo heist that will never be solved.

“Smart” and “intelligent” are the words I would use when describing TOKYO HEIST. Diana Renn effectively fleshes out the character of Violet, who will appeal to any teenager. With her manga fascination, eye for detail, and ability to think quickly in any situation, Violet is a hero you’ll want to cheer for. Plus, if you have any interest or fascination in either art or Japanese culture, then this book is for you. These two elements are nicely weaved together throughout, and Renn provides just enough detail that may spark some of your own investigation into these areas. Sometimes it’s nice to get lost in a different place in a summer read, and TOKYO HEIST provides the perfect getaway.

Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on August 18, 2012

Tokyo Heist
by Diana Renn