Cover Image: The Fine Art of Invisible Detection

The Fine Art of Invisible Detection

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Member Reviews

This twisty and fast-paced thriller brings new meaning to the phrase ‘invisible detection’. Being an average woman in her forties, Umika Wada is fortunate enough to be frequently overlooked and not considered to be worth worthy of anyone’s time. Her invisibility, is her superpower so to speak and allows her to participate in an investigation for her boss, Kazuro Kodaka who owns a detective agency in Tokyo. While completing her investigation in London, Wada learns of Kodaka’s sudden death and decides to undertake a deeper investigation, leading her into the front line against known criminals and dangerous businessmen. 
Wada is a very calm and collected individual, skills which stand to her during her investigation and her ability to sift between the myriad of information thrown at her and decipher the clues is undoubtably impressive. Despite having little experience as a detective, she was previously Kodaka’s PA, she has adapted impressively to her new role and is clearly influenced by the death of her husband in the sarin attacks in Japan some years previously. 
Meanwhile, we have the storyline of Nick Miller, who at the age of 41, has been presented with the opportunity of finally meeting his unknown father. The two storylines are running in parallel for the initial ¾ of the novel and it is when their storylines combine, that events truly implode. The story is fast-paced and does require your attention, but this is not a difficulty when a storyline is so exciting. There are plenty of twists and turns and I loved how this story is not at all predictable but keeps the reading guessing until the final page. 
I particularly enjoyed the elements where Wada was leading the tale and consider that she is the hero that we need in 2021 and I certainly hope to read more of her adventures in the future.
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Actual rating 4.5 stars 

Meet Umiko Wada, personal assistant to Kazuto Kodaka a one man detective agency in the heart of Tokyo. Widowed when her husband was killed in a sarin gas subway attack, this woman’s life is about to change irrevocably when her boss takes on client Mimori Takenaga wishing to uncover the truth behind the alleged suicide of her father in London many years ago. Requiring Wada to fly to London, impersonating his client, Kodaka sets Wada off on an investigation that places all those involved, of which there are quite a few, in immeasurable danger. Some will survive, others will fall by the wayside so prepare to bring your A game to the table if you want to join Wada in solving this most complex of mysteries as she travels to various destinations around the globe in a race to unearth deeply buried secrets and ultimately expose the truth. 

Before you can begin to grapple with the Tokyo London connection you need to meet another main player in this storyline, Englishman and art teacher Nick Miller who is inadvertently embroiled in this mystery, starting with a phone call from an acquaintance of his recently deceased mother. Martin Caldwell is in possession of information regarding the true identity of Nick’s father previously assumed to be that of Geoff Nolan and requests that they meet. Nick’s interest is piqued by this strange, out of the blue request from a man whose connection to his mother lies in the past and their student days in Exeter. As Nick discovers more about his mother, the young Caro Miller and her partner April and the identity of his absent father, links between him, the events of the past and the dealings of a well known Japanese businessman are tentatively forged. As Martin Caldwell gives both Nick and Wada the runaround, expect violence and death to accompany our unassuming detective as she endeavours to crack the case. 

I can’t believe this is my first introduction to this author’s writing but better late than never.
Taking the reader from Tokyo, to London, to Reykjavik and Cornwall and Devon this is most definitely a thriller to exercise the grey matter. You can’t afford to let your mind drift for one moment otherwise you’ll be in danger of losing the thread and wonder what on earth is going on! With Japanese and Icelandic character names, of which there are plenty and place names that I had no idea how to pronounce it’s easy to get a trifle confused but don’t let that put you off. Whilst this type of thriller is not my usual kind of go to read, tending to choose psychological ones over the more action packed ones I’m glad I persevered. Goddard has crafted an intelligent, complex and pacy thriller that keeps your brain cells ticking over and is difficult to put down. If you can keep your wits about you and untangle the knottiest of knots then you’ll realise that greed, treachery and fraud foster the majority of the ruthless behaviour displayed by some of these characters. Evidence of double crossings and dubious shady dealings abound. The more entrenched I became in Wada’s investigation the more I enjoyed trying to anticipate everyone’s next moves, patience and fortitude requisite attributes in this cat and mouse game in which the opponents are elusive and powerful. 

This thriller wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable without the presence of such an unlikely detective as Umiko Wada. Small in stature she’s  a formidable opponent against the prime targets in her investigation reminding me  of a female Bond type figure when the occasion demands. Although she’s thrown in at the deep end, Wada exhibits a natural flair for her undercover role applying stealth and cunning to every situation. Invisible to so many she manages to slip under the radar time and time again despite numerous and rigorous attempts to thwart her progress. The fact this woman is in possession of a death defying invincibility, like a cat with nine lives makes her a refreshingly unusual but wonderful heroine. Her sharp brain and her personal interest in unravelling the almost impenetrable connections between a Japanese businessman and the historic events that take place in Cornwall  London and in the present day Reykjavik suggests she’s the ideal ( albeit only!) candidate to carry out this investigation. I had every confidence she would come up smelling of roses! 

My mind permanently in overdrive I can honestly say I loved this thriller and oh my goodness what an ending! Out of nowhere Goddard surprises you with a most spectacular twist to wrap up this pacy thriller. Think fireworks, it’s that explosive! My jaw literally dropped to the floor, leaving me in no doubt of this author’s ability to weave a highly credible, lively and compelling piece of thrilling fiction.  I’m in total agreement that Robert Goddard is a master of labyrinthine plotting; he keeps you on the edge of your seat, awaiting each new dramatic development with fascination and trepidation. I was blown away by how much I enjoyed this thriller and hope that isn’t the last we’ll see of this pocket sized detective but fear this may be her one and only chance to shine!  I highly recommend. My thanks as always to the publisher and Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read.
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The Fine Art of Invisible Detection is the latest novel from master storyteller Robert Goddard, and it's well up to his usual high standards.
Umiko Wada is secretary to a private investigator in Tokyo who takes on a case looking into the affairs of a ruthless businessman  suspected of having underworld connections. Umiko is a middle-aged widow happy in her undemanding job and with her simple life. All that changes when her boss asks her to go to London to meet someone with information in connection with the case. Very quickly it becomes apparent how dangerous the people being investigated are and Umiko finds herself alone,abroad and with sharks circling.
Meanwhile in London ,Nick Miller is given some news of a personal nature and has also arranged to meet the same person,totally unaware that he's also being sucked into a dangerous situation.

From there an entertaining plot unfolds that has Nick and Wada,as she prefers to be called, following the same trail independently, a trail that links both their pasts to  conspiracies, fraud and murder in the present day. Robert Goddard keeps up the tension to the end of the book and only in the last couple of chapters do the readers and the main characters learn the whole truth,and even then.....................

This is a very enjoyable read with some great characters, not least Wada who refreshingly is just a normal middle-aged lady who rises to the challenge and proves that she's more than capable of handling dangerous situations and thinking on her feet. I hope she will feature in future books, there's certainly scope for a series.

The book begins slowly but very soon things get very dramatic ,very suddenly, the various threads start to knit together and from then on the drama,twists ,turns and action just keep on coming until the end. .
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I would like to thank Netgalley and Random House UK, Transworld Publishers for an advance copy of The Fine Art of Invisible Detection, a stand-alone thriller set in Japan, Iceland and England.

Umiko Wada is sent from Tokyo to London on behalf of her boss, a private detective, and a client but nothing goes to plan and she ends up in more trouble than she bargained for. At the same time Nick Miller discovers that his father isn’t who he thought he was and starts trying to find him. 

I thoroughly enjoyed The Fine Art of Detection which is a fun read with an incredible, twisty plot. The narrative alternates between Wada’s and Nick’s points of view, but as both are on separate journeys this is not an issue, in fact it’s really interesting as they both have the same objective but are coming at it from different angles and with different information. I wouldn’t call it compare and contrast, more parallel experiences.

The plot is fun and not to be taken too seriously, involving as it does, murders, accidental deaths, kidnapping, cons, treachery, double crossing and alleged Japanese gangsters among other things. It is slowish to start but once it gets going it’s non stop action and the twists. The final one is the most mind blowing and well worth the read for that alone. The plot is fairly convoluted and the reader doesn’t really know what is at the root of it all until late in the novel. Quite often I find that kind of secrecy frustrating but in this case it’s intriguing and my desire to know and understand kept me turning the pages.

I loved Wada, as she likes to be known. She’s an unassuming, forty-something widow who is far more capable than she gives herself credit for. Her quiet tenacity and logic drive the novel and somehow give it a warmth and gentility that are unusual in thrillers.

The Fine Art of Invisible Detection is a good read that I have no hesitation in recommending.
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The Fine Art of Invisible Detection is the first book written by Robert Goddard that I have read and I found it a very interesting and enjoyable mystery thriller.

The two main characters Umiko Wada and Nick Miller live in different countries and don’t know each other however their backstories are linked without them realising.

The story has many twists and turns including one right at the end of the book just when you thought everything was done & dusted.

A very enjoyable book
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I have long enjoyed Robert Goddard's books and this complex tale which visited many countries was certainly up to his usual standard. Wada was a great character and one I would like to see pop up in other books. With thanks to Random House for the invitation to read and review and e-ARC of this book and to Netgalley for providing the platform with which to do so.
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I enjoyed the cross culture detective novel. 

Umiko Wada was a great heroine- her "everywoman" qualities made her a great subject for an unlikely detective, thrust into actual detection after the death of her employer. The storyline was fairly interesting but Umiko Wada was the star, here. Resourceful, practical and strangely heartbreaking- it is her quiet nature that disarms those she investigates but it is oddly sad. I was very taken with her. 

I don't think I loved it, but I didn't dislike anything. It isn't as much of a rip-roarer as some thrillers, but the quiet, contemplative nature of this book meant I enjoyed it and would like to read about Umiko Wada again.
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Wada is a secretary for a private detective in Tokyo. She does the occasional more exciting role but on the whole she runs the office. Until one day her boss asks her to take on a bigger role involving a trip to London. In London Nick Miller has some questions concerning his Father following his Mother's recent death.
I found this book quite slow to begin with. Lots of traveling around, chance encounters and people talking. However I stuck with it and the book really started to take off. The slightly dull groundwork at the beginning was necessary for what turned out to be quite a complex book.
At the bottom of this story is corporate fraud which isn't my favourite theme in a mystery book. However this was a well constructed story and I did enjoy it. The characters were interesting and three dimensional. The plot was well thought out and hung together.
On the whole I enjoyed this book. I personally prefer the subject matter of Robert Goddard's earlier work. However, regardless of the subject matter, his books are well constructed and well worth reading.
I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley.
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Unfortunately I couldn’t get into this book at all, not my style of book at all, I am sure many people really enjoyed it
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‘The world went on its way. It was business as usual. Until it wasn’t.’

Umiko Wada, widowed, works as a secretary to Kazuto Kodaka, a private detective in Tokyo. Her mother wants her to remarry, but Wada is comfortable with the current orderliness of her life: managing her boss’s diary and keeping his paperwork under control. But then Kodaka takes on a case which changes everything. He is approached by a woman, Mimori Takenaga, who believes that her father was murdered in London in 1977.

As part of the investigation, Wada leaves Tokyo for London. She is to meet an Englishman, Martin Caldwell who may have some information.

And from here, the action escalates. Kodaka is killed, Wada’s contact in London goes missing. Wada is resourceful and follows leads to Devon and then to Iceland. There is more than one secret being hidden, and more than one person who will kill to make sure that those secrets remain hidden. 

This is a complex thriller with several well-developed characters, some interesting plot twists, and plenty of action. Will Wada find the answers she is seeking? A dramatic, tense climax on a beach in Cornwall brings much of the story to a conclusion. But Wada has a taste for investigating now, and there are a couple of loose ends…

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I hope that Wada finally finished her reread of ‘The Makioka Sisters’.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Random House, UK for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.  

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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Robert Goddard's 'The Fine Art of Invisible Detection' was a great read, a thriller and detective mystery told in a gentle and linear way, so unusual these days. The main character, a Japanese lady, thrown unceremoniously in to being a private detective after the murder of her boss. She would not call herself a private detective though, as her role was secretary and PA until the 'hit'. Being invisible as she likes to think, maybe by age or stature, she uses to her advantage, blending in with crowds or not given a second glance when walking alone. It does give Goddard the chance to write in this unique style though. That's not to say it's without pace or excitement either. A story that goes from Japan to the UK, USA and Iceland and spans over forty years of friendships, there's plenty to intrigue. The ending is as enigmatic as the beginning but in a good way, maybe there's more to follow? For lovers of the genre, why not take a reading holiday from the usual and curl up with this, you won't be disappointed.
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Robert Goddard's latest thriller is an intricate and complicated piece of fiction, set primarily in Japan, London, Cornwall and Iceland. Middle aged widow Umika Wada is PA to PI Kazuro Kodaka at his one man detective agency in Tokyo, her husband a victim of the notorious sarin attack in 1995. Wada is an unflappable and stoic woman, a woman that barely makes an impression on others, rendering her well nigh invisible. It is these qualities that are to make her a rather good detective when she is unexpectedly sent to London by her boss on a case that turns out to be so dangerous that he is murdered in a hit and run incident. The agency had been hired by Mimori Takenaga to find out what really happened to her father who apparently committed suicide in London 27 years ago, Wada is to meet Martin Caldwell who claims to have information on this case, posing as their client.

41 year old Londoner Nick Miller is married to Kate, a private school art teacher whose mother, Caro, has recently died. Caldwell gets in touch with him, saying he has information on his father, the dead Geoff Nolan. Nick knows little of Nolan, other than Geoff never wanted to know anything about him, so he tries to find out more from his mother's partner, April. Nick's world is shattered when he finds out both his mother and April have lied to him about his parentage. When Caldwell fails to turn up to meet either Wada and Nick as agreed, both find themselves propelled into pursuing their inquiries, albeit separately, into a terrifying world where there is a rising tide of murdered people and gangsters. They find themselves going to Iceland to find Caldwell and look into the sinister Quartizon Corporation, and a strange auction that is to take place there, but will they survive?

Goddard excels in writing suspenseful thrillers, full of twists and turns, as is the case here, this is action packed and full of thrills that culminate in an exciting finale on a Cornish beach. Wada is an inspired creation, and developed so well, finding herself in an unfamiliar world of threats and constant danger, where the normal thing to do after her boss is murdered would have been to return to her life in Tokyo. However, she has a thread of steel and determination in her personality, plus she has a personal stake in the case with the sarin attacks, although not knowing what she is up against naturally means she make mistakes. What is clear is that she has what it takes to be a capable and competent detective, even if she doesn't recognise this in herself. This is a wonderfully complex and entertaining thriller that is likely to appeal to fans of Goddard and other crime and thriller readers. Many thanks to Random House Transworld for an ARC.
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I hadn’t read any books by Robert Goddard before and I was definitely impressed. He maintains good momentum within the two parallel narratives until they are finally brought together. I warmed to Wada instantly and loved her intrepid spirit, bravery and self awareness. Her ordinariness allowed her to have a cloak of invisibility (at least for a while) which meant she succeeded where others had failed. It took me longer to empathise with Nick but he did become important to me as the book progressed. 

The plot was convincing, well paced and full of intriguing twists and turns as we travelled together from place to place. The ending did not disappoint- a sequel would be good although it did have a satisfying ending so not necessarily set up for that.

I have already researched a few more Goddard books to read. I liked the writing style and well drawn characters.
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Umiko Wada seems like everyones' idea of a typical Japanese housewife,quiet unassuming invisible but shes not a typical Japanese housewife.Her husband died as a result of being caught in the Tokyo subway Sarin Gas terrorist attack and was in a coma for 10 years before dying.She got a job as a secretary to a private detective and over time he began to take advantage of her invisibility to follow people or keep them under surveillance .
When a wealthy looking woman comes to engage her boss to look into a photograph of an Englishman who worked for her murdered father, that has been sent to her by a Martin Caldwell living in London Wada is persuaded to travel to London posing as the client to meet with the man and see what the info he has regarding the murder.
But Caldwell never comes to the meeting and then she hears her employer has been killed in a hit and run and she doesn't believe it was an accident. She is now unemployed but she liked her employer and determines to carry on, suspecting as her employer did, the shadow of Hiroji Nishizaki  a businessman and for want of a better word gangster ,whose methods and ruthlessness are known to many but nobody has ever been able to obtain evidence or live long enough to talk.
Wada travels to the U.S and then Iceland searching for the man who was willing to talk and in the process keep one step ahead of a Japanese assassin, Her ability to remain invisible is severely tested.
Her story intertwines with that of Nick Miller a teacher who learns after his mothers death that the dead man he believed was his father is not and his real biological father seems to be the subject on a photograph sent to a woman in Japan .
The labyrinthine plot zips along at a cracking pace Nishizaki will stop at nothing to keep his secrets and has the necessary wealth and manpower to carry out his brutal and ruthless orders. But Wada has a determination that perhaps was only evident to her boss as she relentlessly follows the trail to a huge conspiracy that many are killed to protect.A great character and a great thriller.Mr Goddard has done it again.
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I loved the character of Wada- quiet and assuming but totally kickass! The journey to solve the mystery of a decades old suicide take Wada from Japan to London via Cornwall and iceland and the descriptions of all of the places feel very realistic, fromthe architecture to the incessant coach loads of tourists!
A gentle read with a very clever plot!
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I have read all of Robert Goddard books and this one continues his excellent work. The plot  moves from Japan to the UK and cleverly knits together a story of intrigue, murder and loss starting in 1977.  Thoroughly recommended.
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This was my first Robert Goddard book and I will  definitely look out for more from this author. 
I wasn't quite sure about the book at the beginning but quiet, courageous and almost invisible Wada reeled me in.
Wada is an unusual heroine; theres nothing showy about her but her determination and intelligence make her remarkable.
Wada works as a secretary for a private detective in Tokyo but he makes use of her ability to be invisible in some of his work. When he is asked to investigate the suicide if a Japanese businessman in the UK in the 1970s he sends Wada while he looks into another aspect of the case in Japan. Her investigations lead her to Iceland, Cambridge and Cornwall. She faces many adversaries and is in mortal danger on several occasions. 
I'd like to think that there may be more stories about Wada but I have a feeling that all of the threads which normally make for a sequel (or even a series) have been neatly tied up. But I can hope.
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Well written story which kept me turning the page.

It is full of intrigue and the premise of a secretary to a private detective coming from Japan to London for a case is unusual.

Enjoyable read.
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Another book where the synopsis sounded quite intriguing but sadly I just couldn't get into the book at all and found myself more skim reading it than being fully engaged with the book.
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This was my first foray into the world of Robert Goddard.  I must say if this is the norm, then I'm in!  This book gripped me from the start.  There are two parallel stories, one in Japan and one in London.  In Japan, Wada works as the woman Friday in a detective agency.  When a woman asks the agency to look into her fathers death and will involve a trip to London, she is asked to go as she speaks fluent English and can pose as the client..
Meanwhile Nick finds out that his past is not what he's led to believe after the death of his mother and begins a quest to find out the truth.
As the book progresses the storylines converge as the action moves between London, Iceland, Cambridge and Cornwall.  Big business meets big gangsters amid dirty deals and a trail of deaths.
Very enjoyable.
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