Tuesday, February 20, 2024

8. Stopover Tokyo: A Mr. Moto Adventure by John P. Marquand

This was a thin novel that I should have finished in a few days.  Unfortunately, it was so boring and overly-written and predictable, that I had to force myself to get to the end, with my mom telling me to just skip to the end and stop complaining.  She's wild.  I see this is the last Mr. Moto adventure and Marquand died at only 60 a few years later.  I guess he was trying to get out of the game himself, because the theme is of the spy in the business who allows himself to become personally involved and thus compromises himself.

The story, as far as there is one, is centered around all-American 50s spy, Jack Rhyce, going after the "commies".  The red menace here is insanely vague, akin to the I Was a Communist for the FBI radio series.  There seem to be a lot of very real-seeming Americans abroad who have somehow been indoctrinated and now work for the other side, but what they actually do that is so bad is barely explained. Only at the end, do we learn that they plan to assassinate a liberal Japanese politician and blame it on the Americans.

But really nothing much happens in this book except Jack meets a beautiful female spy and they have endless conversations where they play their roles and then complain about playing their roles until I guess they fall in love and decide to leave the business when this job is over.  Of course, she gets killed (and worse).  Mr. Moto is on the sidelines being suspicious and then assisting.  The only element of interest is the background on Big Ben, the big commie who was snubbed at a Southern college so decided to destroy America, I guess.  There was some hints at interesting class issues, but otherwise this book was a snoozer, too caught up in its time to say anything interesting about it, yet not committing to the insanity of that time to at least have fun.

I read that this was an outlier of the Mr. Moto books as the others were pre-WWII and not dealing with the cold war, but I didn't love the first one so despite the beautiful paperback designs, I am done with Mr. Moto.


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