Non-Stop Till Tokyo
Samhain / April 29, 2014 / $6.50 digital
Kerry Ekdahl’s mixed heritage and linguistics skills could have made her a corporate star. Instead, she’s a hostess in a high-end Tokyo bar, catering to businessmen who want conversation, translation and flirtation. Easy money, no stress. Life is good—until she’s framed for the murder of a yakuza boss.
Trapped in rural Japan with the gangsters closing in, Kerry doesn’t stand a chance. Then help arrives in the menacing form of Chanko, a Samoan-American ex-sumo wrestler with a bad attitude, a lot of secrets, and a mission she doesn’t understand.
Kerry doesn’t get involved with dangerous men. Then again, she’s never had one on her side before. And the big, taciturn fighter seems determined to save her life, even if they rub each other the wrong way.
Then her friends are threatened, and Kerry has no choice but to return to Tokyo and face the yakuza. Where she learns, too late, that the muscle man who’s got her back could be poised to stab it.
Non-Stop Till Tokyo by KJ Charles is a romantic thriller set in Tokyo and its immediate environs. Kerry Ekdahl is a gaijin, a woman of mixed heritage who works as a hostess at a Tokyo bar, having no plans to return to her native England. But she is betrayed by a coworker and becomes the target of a major manhunt by the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia. She must rely upon the mysterious Chanko, a Samoan-American ex-sumo wrestler for help staying alive. This story is an intense thrill ride that is packed with action. It is also a dark and gritty tale which is not for the faint of heart. There is a significant amount of violence and bloodshed.
Kerry is targeted by her coworker Kelly because of her gaijin status. Kerry’s mother was an interpreter from Hong Kong and her father a blond and blue-eyed Scandinavian. Kerry takes after her Asian mother, but inherited her father’s blue eyes. Thus, she can play up her Asian features or act the part of Westerner. This helps her career as a hostess catering to Asian businessmen. But it also allows her to be easily set up when Kelly murders a client who is an important member of the Yakuza.
The Yakuza believes Kerry is the culprit and will stop at nothing to track her down. She has to flee, running with nothing but the clothes on her back. She makes it out of Tokyo but is almost caught before Chanko comes to her rescue. Chanko is a man sent by one of her friends to help her. He is a large man who initially gives Kerry a hard time, but he is effective at getting her out of trouble.
The two quickly realize that Kerry has few options. She does have access to money, but has no passport. And the Yakuza will not give up. In fact, they kidnap and rape one of her closest friends in order to get information. Eventually, Kerry and Chanko decide that they must figure out what Kelly inadvertently stole and what the Yakuza want. With this plan, they return to Tokyo and hide out with Chanko’s friend, a quirky man with impressive computer skills but murky business ties.
Throughout it all, the Yakuza dodge their every step, fists at the ready. They are also quite fond of gratuitous torture. The plan concocted by Kelly and her accomplice was not very sophisticated, but they ended up stealing something that could harm several of the Yakuza's business interests. As a result, Kerry, Chanko and their friends have an uphill battle to find a way out of the situation with their lives.
Non-Stop Till Tokyo is an exciting story that is tough to put down. The suspense plot is intense, sometimes convoluted, but quite well done. The romance between Kerry and Chanko does take second stage, however. There is certainly a palpable attraction between the two, one that is believable, but it is overshadowed by the external suspense events. Kerry and Chanko are brought closer by their difficult pasts, ones that have cut them off from their families and taken them half a world away from their homes. This fact helps make the romance work despite the lack of time devoted to it.
For those looking for a different story, one that will captivate, Non-Stop Till Tokyo fits the bill. Action, suspense and violence combine to make for an unforgettable thriller with a sweet romance on the side. Kerry and Chanko not only fall in love, but they take on the Yakuza and come out on top—with a great deal of help from their friends. Take a step outside of your comfort zone and give this one a chance.
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