Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Tokyo Heist

Tokyo Heist

Diana Renn
For ages 12 and up
Penguin, 2012   ISBN: 978-0670013326

Violet has spent most of her life living with her mother and spending weekends and some holidays with her artist father. When she was little, she and her father had fun, and Violet enjoyed visiting him, but in the last few years a gulf has developed between them, and now Violet cannot help feeling that her father really has no interest in her. This summer Violet’s mother has to go to Italy for work, so it has been decided that the sixteen-year-old will stay with her father in Seattle. Violet she is hoping that she will be able to find a way to connect with her dad during their time together.

Violet is not with her father long before she realizes that her summer is not going to go as expected at all. Her father has been hired to create a mural for a large Japanese company, and his clients want him to go to Japan to get to work post haste. His clients, Kenji and Mitsue Yamada, are big art lovers, and they want a special mural in the entryway of their new corporate office building in Tokyo. Being a huge fan of Japanese art and culture, Violet is thrilled at the prospect of going to Tokyo. Her enthusiasm is fired up even more when she finds out that the Yamadas have had some Van Gogh sketches stolen from their home in Seattle. This in itself would make things very interesting, but then she learns that the yakuza, Japanese gangsters, are demanding that the Yamadas give them a Van Gogh painting in exchange for the return of the etchings. The Yamadas are willing to do just about anything to appease the yakuza, but they cannot give them the painting because they have no idea where it is.

Apparently, Kenji’s brother bought the Van Gogh painting in Paris, and before he died he hid it somewhere. Somehow the Yamadas have to find that painting before the yakuza decide to turn up the heat and become really nasty.

At first the mystery of the missing painting is just a grand adventure for Violet, but when she learns that the yakuza are threatening to harm her father, she begins to feel desperate. With her friend Reika to help her understand the Japanese language and culture in Tokyo, Violet starts looking for clues that will help her to find the missing painting before it is too late.

Readers who enjoy mysteries, art, Japan, or manga are going to enjoy this thrilling and unpredictable story. Violet is a character that teens will be able to identify with, and readers will find it hard not to get caught up in Violet’s story.