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The Last Train

Detective Hiroshi Shimizu investigates white collar crime in Tokyo. He’s lost his girlfriend and still dreams of his time studying in America, but with a stable job, his own office and a half-empty apartment, he’s settled in.

When an American businessman turns up dead, his mentor Takamatsu calls him out to the site of a grisly murder. A glimpse from a security camera video suggests the killer was a woman, but in Japan, that seems unlikely. Hiroshi quickly learns how close homicide and suicide can appear in a city full of high-speed trains just a step—or a push—away.

Takamatsu drags Hiroshi out to the hostess clubs and skyscraper offices of Tokyo in search of the killer. She’s trying to escape Japan for a new life by playing a high-stakes game of insider information. To find her, Hiroshi goes deeper and deeper into Tokyo’s intricate, ominous market for the most expensive real estate in the world.

When Takamatsu inexplicably disappears, Hiroshi teams up with ex-sumo wrestler Sakaguchi. They scour Tokyo’s sacred temples, corporate offices and industrial wastelands to find out where Takamatsu went, and why one woman would be driven to murder when she seems to have it all.

In a megalopolis of 40 million people, finding one woman is nearly impossible. If he can’t find her, more businessmen will die, she’ll flee the country and the male-dominated, cutthroat world of buying and selling property will never change.

After years in America and lost in neat, clean spreadsheets, Hiroshi confronts the stark realities of the biggest city in the world, where inside information can travel in a flash from the top investment firms to the bottom of the working world, where street-level punks and teenage hostesses sell their souls for a small cut of high-profit land deals.

Hiroshi’s determined to cut through Japan’s ambiguities—and dangers—to find the murdering ex-hostess before she extracts her final revenge—which just might be him.


“A five-star detective read. It is unique, intriguing, and will hook the reader from beginning to end.” Reader Views

“For anyone who loves crime and cop novels, or Japanophiles in general, this is a terrific thriller.” Blue Ink Review

“This exotic crime thriller is a lightning-fast chase to the finish line that’ll leave hearts pounding and pages turning.” Best Thrillers 

“A well-paced and absorbing mystery, with quick action and a look at urban life, an utterly page-turning adventure.” Foreword Reviews

“An absorbing investigation and memorable backdrop put this series launch on the right track.” Kirkus Reviews

"Gripping and suspenseful, this fast-paced thriller unfolds on the streets of Tokyo, where a clever and cold-blooded killer exacts revenge." Booklife Prize

Mystery readers will relish the progress of a detective torn between two cultures, the reader of Japanese literature will truly appreciate the depth of background.” Midwest Book Review

“Tokyo comes to vivid life in this taut thriller, an unrelenting portrayal of a strong female character and the heart-pounding search to find her.” Publishers Daily Reviews

“The Last Train is nothing short of electrifying, a masterpiece that combines action with humor and suspense." Readers' Favorite

"The Last Train is a fast-paced thriller that skillfully exposes readers to the seedy urban side of Japan and leaves readers anxiously waiting for the next novel in the detective Hiroshi series." Feathered Quill 

"Written from knowledge rather than research, he knows a lot more than he has any need to tell us brings the city gloriously to life." The Bookbag

"The story behind Michiko Suzuki is compelling and engaging, you can't help flipping the pages to see what she is going to do next and find out why her victims were chosen." Literary Titan

"Pronko truly knows how to use the setting in the read, exploring the many facets of the city to maximum effect. The Last Train is a gripping read, and leaves you really wanting to dig into the next book in the series." Self-Publishing Review

“A heartfelt, thoughtful ode to a strange and beautiful city, in the way that so many classic detective novels are. Lyrically written, with plenty of suspense.” IndieReader"

"I would definitely recommend it to crime and murder mystery fans, especially those with an interest in Japanese culture." Online Book Club

Awards for The Last Train

Solo Medalist Winner New Apple Awards for Excellence 2017

Winner Crime Fiction Beverly Hills Book Awards 2017

Winner Best Mystery Book Excellence Awards 2017

Gold Award Literary Titan Book Award 2017

Silver Award IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards 2017

Silver Award Feathered Quill Book Award 2018

Finalist Book Readers Appreciation Group (B.R.A.G.) 2017

Finalist IANB of the Year Awards 2017

Finalist EPIC eBook Awards 2018

Semi-finalist Booklife Prize 2017

Top Ten Self-Published Books 2017 The Bookbag

Profile Photo Michael Pronko

About Michael Pronko

Michael Pronko has lived in Tokyo for twenty years, but was born in Kansas City, a very different world. After graduating from Brown University in philosophy, he hit the road, traveling around the world for two years working odd jobs. He went back to school for a Master’s in Education, and then took a teaching position in Beijing. For two years, he taught English, traveled China and wrote.

After more traveling, another M.A. in Comparative Literature in UW Madison, and a PhD in English and film in University of Kent, he settled in Tokyo as a professor of American Literature at Meiji Gakuin University. His seminars focus on contemporary novels and film adaptations, with other classes in American indie film and American music and art.

In addition to award-winner The Last Train (2017), Pronko has published three award-winning collections about Tokyo life: Motions and Moments (2015), Tokyo’s Mystery Deepens (2014), and Beauty and Chaos (2014). He has published three books in Japanese and two textbooks in both English and Japanese.

Over the years in Tokyo, he has written regular columns for many publications: The Japan Times, Newsweek Japan, Jazznin, ST Shukan, Jazz Colo[u]rs, and Artscape Japan. He runs his own website Jazz in Japan ( He also continues to publish academic articles and helps run the Liberlit Conference on teaching literature. More at:

All books by Michael Pronko

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