The Threads series continues in this tale of suspense and mystery surrounding the employment debt of Akira Hamada. Her days as a geisha long behind her, she now serves as a deadly assassin for the Yakuza boss Mitsui. After Akira makes a threat on Mitsui’s life, his daughter-in-law, Yuki Ota, (a character familiar to readers of the series to this point) is the messenger to give Akira one final job, but Akira is unsure if this is her way out or merely a trap to end her career fatally or in prison.
Along with a loyal and skilled cleaner, Takashi, Akira is to board a Caribbean cruise. Among her fellow passengers are Paul and Sara Lyons, an unhappily married couple who Mitsui believes are involved in the death of his sister in Mexico. Akira hopes to determine which of the two is the actual murderer so that no innocent blood can be shed; so in order to get close with the Lyons family, she becomes romantically involved with Paul’s nephew, Devon, who is also along for the cruise. Upon getting in with this group of travelers, Akira discovers several peculiar people such as the mysterious Dr. Peter Bradshaw, who seems to be keeping secrets and is in the constant presence of Sara (much to Paul’s chagrin), or the captain, Kevin Brice, who faced a demotion from the cruise company a decade ago after mysterious deaths on his watch. As the pleasure cruise begins to rack up a body count, Akira has to determine who is guilty and exact her boss’s revenge without getting caught herself—all while juggling her double life as a Japanese tourist and new partner to the nephew of her target.
Many of the best suspense, thriller, and mystery stories take place on a form of transportation, and this book is no different. The reason for this narrative choice is obvious, as it creates an inescapable arena with which the players can play cat and mouse, all within a set time limit for the story to unfold. The use of a cruise ship in this story allows for the exploration of exotic locales—and an opulent backdrop for the romantic, erotic elements of this story—while still providing that basic tension and restriction that keeps the action constantly moving forward. For readers who have kept up with the series, it’s the same kind of well-crafted thrill ride that the audience has come to expect. At the same time, this story is in many ways self-sufficient. Veterans will be more aware of the origins of the Lyons family and the Zakura-kai family, but everything between these two covers still stands perfectly on its own.
Like many pieces of popular spy fiction—whether it be literature, television, or movie—the author blends in some violent action with passionate romance and casts it all on a backdrop of an exotic and beautiful locale. Akira’s conflict between the past she was robbed of, her present unsavory circumstances, and a glimpse at a happy future create an emotional drama separate from the mystery of who among the seemingly happy cruise patrons and employees is capable of foul play. The fact that Akira is one of those with murder on her hands creates a scenario in which nobody is really innocent, leading to potential treachery and backstabbing on all sides. Readers will want to follow this book all the way to the end and should have no problem doing so after being gripped by its memorable characters and suspenseful storytelling. Whether you’re new to this series or just getting started, this book will leave an impression and keep the audience guessing all the way until Akira’s final showdown.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by the US Review