The Fine Art of Invisible Detection
reviewed by Carolyn Scott
Umiko Wada, a middle-aged assistant to a private Investigator ends up a long way from home in what will be her last case for him. Since her husband died after twelve years in a coma following the 1995 sarin attack on the Tokyo subway, Umiko has led a lonely life. By the time her husband died she was too old to have children so instead of looking to remarry she decided to dedicate her life to her career, assisting her boss Kazuto Kodaka. So, when he asks if she would travel to London to attend a meeting on behalf of a client, she packs her bag and gets on a plane.
Once in London she is to meet with a man who has information regarding someone who worked as a translator for her client’s father before he was killed in 1977. However, when the man she is to meet doesn’t show up, instead of going back to Japan Wada (as she likes to be called) resolutely follows the case to wherever it takes her – Devon, New York, Iceland and finally to Cornwall.
The case turns out to be more complex and much more dangerous than Wada and Kodaka could ever have imagined when they took it on. Unknown to her, someone else is on the same trail, Nick Miller, looking for information about the father he has never known. Missing since the 70s and presumed dead, the man Nick thinks might be his father was last seen on a beach in Cornwall, where one of his housemates was found drowned. Nick and Wada’s paths eventually collide in Iceland where the stakes will be raised for both of them as they uncover a plot of corruption, fraud and pure greed.
This fast moving, smart, and complex thriller is full of intrigue and suspense with twists at every turn. There are many pieces to keep track of, which eventually all slot together and culminate in a truly explosive ending.
Wada is a delightful character. For someone used to an ordered and uneventful existence in Tokyo, she handles everything thrown her way with aplomb as she uses her clever brain and tenacity to evade danger. Quiet and resilient, Umiko Wada is the perfect invisible undercover detective who should never be underestimated.
In The Fine Art of Invisible Detection, Robert Goddard has written another intelligent and stylish thriller with a smart and complex plot and a unique character you can’t fail to cheer for.
With thanks to Random House UK and NetGalley for a copy to read. Expected publication March 18, 2021.