Before I begin, let me say I know the author and his wife very well. He did not give me this book –I paid for it myself. So I hope to give an honest take here:
“Being a photographer at a Tokyo newspaper is no walk in the park—unless you're Akio Tsukino and only get assigned to shoot parades and park festivals. All that changes when a serial killer starts chopping off heads in nearby Kofu. Akio maneuvers his way onto the assignment in order to prove himself and get closer to enigmatic staff writer Masami Sato. When the investigation takes a supernatural turn, the unlikely partners find themselves caught between solving the mystery and saving their own lives.”
While Headless starts out awkwardly –it’s a debut of a new author and has some rough edges- it eventually settles down become a competent thriller. The character of Akio is extremely annoying, however, a bit of a narcissist, and at times unlikeable. Still he has some enduring traits that fully don’t ruin the book for me. Meanwhile, Masami Sato is certainly a modern feminist struggling to be accepted in a man’s world. She is smart, sexy, and quite capable of getting her way when she needs to –even if it seems to kill her soul to do it.
I don’t think the book is a horror story or even a mystery, though both elements are present. It’s more falls under the urban fantasy genre, especially when we meet up with Lowe’s version of Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Miyahara –and where Mount Fuji seems to be this books version of the Hellmouth.
Still, I enjoyed the book. It’s well paced and kept me turning the pages -I literally read it in a day- but I had hoped for more explanation of what supernatural themes are about and why they suddenly began to happen –if you’re going to suddenly have demons running around modern Tokyo, one thinks that there should be a reason for it other than a than the demon figured out how to escape Hell (shades of REAPER here). I mean, we do get a brief glimpse into some of it, but I’m a bit disappointed that Lowe never fully explored that aspect, as he spent way too much time dealing with Akio arrogance and libido. To be honest, I liked and wanted to spend more time with Masami’s thoughts than Akio –she’s clearly more interesting. So is Miyahara for that matter, as it’s hinted he appears to be something more than human as well.
Perhaps will get more background information in the sequel?