For want of a better label, this is what I am calling the books that don’t slot neatly into other categories. In some ways it is more difficult for me to write these stories set in the UK or USA, as the society in the UK that I knew so long ago has changed, and I am still learning about it, and I have never lived in the USA.
However, that hasn’t stopped me from having a go at writing contemporary adventure stories. My first, At the Sharpe End, was set in 2008 in Tokyo, against a background of the Wall Street Crash. Then came Balance of Powers, which looked at the effect of the subprime crisis on the life of an Afghanistan veteran in Ohio and his circle, and then a romp through sex and drugs and rock and roll with Leo’s Luck (UK and Japan).
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The good news: he’s got £3,000,000 in the bank. The bad news: the bank is in Japan, he has no money to get there, and the money isn’t really his anyway.
The good news: he’s taken on as a Killer Rabbit. The bad news: he doesn’t know what a Killer Rabbit does.
Is Leo’s luck about to change, as he travels the byways of rock ‘n’ roll with Pig, Scuzz, Chick, Lurch, and Chaz? And what’s Bobby’s little secret, anyway?
Leo’s Luck has been described as “deep-fried sushi” – by someone who knows what he’s talking about. A surreal romp through the worlds of music and disorganised crime, not to mention the paranormal and a little romance.
“Leo’s Luck reads like Richard Parker (Donald Westlake) crossed with Murakami – the witty tone and hard-boiled Tokyo go together like deep fried sushi. If you think that’s unappetizing, you’ve never tried the good stuff. Improbably plausible with a sci-fi twist to keep you on your toes, casual violence, and dark humor. Ashton captures the subtleties and strangeness of Japan’s megalopolis as only a long term veteran could.” Jake Adelstein, author of Tokyo Vice, soon to be a movie starring Daniel Radcliffe
At the Sharpe End
Kenneth Sharpe is a British expatriate consultant living in Tokyo. A mysterious stranger, who claims to be hunted by the American security services, presses a box into his hand shortly before being discovered dead under the wheels of a train at Tokyo’s busy Shinjuku station.
Sharpe and his Indian friends discover there’s more in the Hello Kitty box than he was originally told, and before long, Sharpe’s life (not to mention his flat) is turned upside-down as he finds himself rubbing shoulders with some very strange people indeed.
His whirlwind adventure spans East Asia, and involves the security forces of at least four countries, including North Korea, mobsters, and beautiful (if dangerous) women.
Along the way, readers discover a view of everyday Japan and Tokyo which is far removed from the cliché of “cherry blossom and kimono” and the mystic Orient. Kenneth Sharpe’s city is a gritty, fast-moving metropolis with its quirks and idiosyncrasies.
This edition contains a foreword by Tokyo resident Robert Whiting, best-selling author of Tokyo Underworld: the Fast Life and Hard Times of an American Gangster in Tokyo, and You Gotta Have Wa, etc.
In preparation for a journey to Japan, I ordered two books, the third installment of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest, and Hugh Ashton’s At the Sharpe End. At the Sharpe End arrived first, so I began to read it. As I enjoyed Larsson’s two earlier novels immensely, I fully expected to put down At the Sharpe End and commence reading The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest once it arrived.
However, I found that I was enjoying At the Sharpe End so much, that I did not want to stop reading the novel, even after The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest arrived!
Hugh Ashton has crafted a wonderful story full of intriguing characters, unexpected twists, and sly humor. I developed a fondness for the four protagonists, and I was sorry to see the story end. I hope Mr. Ashton has many more stories to tell!
Balance of Powers
The American Dream ain’t what it used to be, as Major Henry Gillette Powers, USMC, discovers on his return from Afghanistan. His sister and her family have disappeared, and their home has been repossessed, along with half the houses in the neighborhood. With the help of Jeanine, who has also lost her home, he learns fast what’s going on.
What he unearths about the mortgage business awakens long-buried sides of his character, and corpses start to drop in his wake as he travels from Ohio to New York.
Meanwhile on Wall Street, Kendra Hampton, financial journalist, discovers that mortgage traders are dying in very messy ways.
Hampton and Powers are now on a collision course as events race towards a climax that could mean the death of dozens.
The Great Recession of 2008 was ten years ago, but the effects are still with us, and for the most part those responsible have yet to face justice.
This novel looks at what might have been if one man had discovered the truth and taken the law into his own hands.
It also contains a guide, written by a professional, on what to do if you find yourself bullied by the financial houses.
Pulp fiction, in the sense of being a violent page-turner. Pulp Fiction, in the sense that like a Tarantino film, the bad guys are truly deserving of the violence meted out to them. Also like Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, the narrative starts at the end and circles back around.
The nonfiction appendix on how to avoid losing your home to foreclosure is a sad reminder that the sub-prime loan crisis affects the real lives of any.