“Blue Light Yokohama” is optimistically billed as the first in a new crime series. While the plot twists are of the caliber required for successful crime fiction, this debut is riddled with cliches, errors and inconsistencies. Anyone familiar with Japanese culture or crime fiction will struggle to reach the end in the face of mounting frustration.

The narrative is full of anachronisms. Japanese police officers wink at each other, shake hands, make casual references to U.S. pop culture and speak like U.S. TV cops. It’s often only the names that remind us this is set in Tokyo. The characters certainly don’t come across as Japanese. Rendering non-English speech is always tricky for authors, but here Obregon has laced the standard police talk with slang and expletives that seem ridiculous given the context.

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