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Old 08-11-2017, 05:28 PM   #16
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I was pleasantly surprised to find what I considered to be minimal racial stereotyping in the context of its times; I admit that I expected something more like the Charlie Chan films. Instead it was appreciative of Asian cultures while delivering a blistering indictment, in the form of a drunken rant, against the US; the White Russians came off the worst of all.

As for Charlie Chan, I saw in a Goodreads review that the Mr. Moto character was commissioned by Collier's magazine when Earl Derr Biggers, Chan's creator, died. I wonder if serialization was the reason for what seemed to me the abrupt end of this story? Had Marquand hit his word limit? Or did his inventive powers just run out?
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Old 08-13-2017, 10:11 PM   #17
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... I wonder if serialization was the reason for what seemed to me the abrupt end of this story?
Possibly, although it didn't seem to be a cliff-hanger ending.

For me, it seemed almost a typical 1930s pulper, until the end. I suppose that explains the No Hero title. The ending saved the book for me.

Moto is the most interesting character. We see very little of him, but he seems the opposite of what we would expect for a spymaster - although he is equipped with a hiss at the first meeting.

I wondered about Lee's early rant about FDR going off the gold standard, which fits in with his past (fighting in Poland against the Reds and against the Riff uprising in Spanish Morocco). Was that red meat for the probable readership of the novel, going for the Kansas market?

The remark about trade was interesting: "They're getting so that they can beat us at all our manufacturing trade. But we can't stop them, can we?"

Likewise, this seemed quite prescient: "explained why Japan watched with unconcealed misgivings the construction of our airplane carriers and the development of Chinese and Russian aviation. A few incendiary bombs were all that would be needed to bring about almost unimaginable disaster, and I had been told that the inflammability of Osaka and other great industrial nerve centers of the Empire was even more pronounced." At the time, most navies still thought in terms of the clash of battleship fleets.
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Old 08-15-2017, 08:03 AM   #18
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I'm not yet finished. I'm almost 1/2 done. One thing that's a little bit niggling is some of the odd stilted wording and strange punctuation in places. One thing I am not liking is the story being a documentation of what happened. That bit just doesn't work for me. I don't see any need for it other than to pad the word count.

Mr. Moto does not seem like the same character as I'm used to seeing. Granted, I'm used to some of the movies when I was younger.

I am going to finish this as I want to know what happens.
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Old 08-15-2017, 08:45 AM   #19
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I'm not yet finished. I'm almost 1/2 done. One thing that's a little bit niggling is some of the odd stilted wording and strange punctuation in places. One thing I am not liking is the story being a documentation of what happened. That bit just doesn't work for me.
Isn't that the basic issue with any first person narrative? Either there's a (frequently specious) reason for it, or you just have to contrive one for yourself - or overlook the issue altogether, as a standard device. A third person narrative wouldn't have worked with this at all, IMO. The street is essentially that of Casey's redemption, which needed the internal voice. The action bits wouldn't have been as effective, either.
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Old 08-15-2017, 11:49 AM   #20
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...
Mr. Moto does not seem like the same character as I'm used to seeing. Granted, I'm used to some of the movies when I was younger.
I've never seen the Mr. Moto movies. My wife tells me that Moto is an Interpol detective in the movies.

My only prior encounter with Mr. Moto was a reference in the 1943 propaganda movie "Air Force".

The crew of a B-17 bomber (after flying into the middle of the Pearl Harbor raid) land at Wake Island on the way to Clark Field. The Marines on Wake give the crew a dog (named Tripoli, of course) who has been trained to bark at the words "Mr. Moto"
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Old 08-20-2017, 04:39 PM   #21
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Maybe 40 years ago I read a Mr. Moto novel. I have no recollection of the title; I have a hunch it was the fourth one. Like this, it was a first-person narrative of a man who by the end falls in love, with Mr. Moto dropping in and out of the story. I therefore expect every Mr. Moto story to be about the narrators, none of whom have anything to do with each other.

Issy, that Goodreads review is incorrect. The magazine was The Saturday Evening Post.
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Old 08-20-2017, 05:37 PM   #22
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What I found odd was that the book is supposed to be about Mr. Moto and we hardly saw him and we hardly got to know him. It was a very odd was to handle a main character.

Are the other books as odd or do we eventually get from Mr. Moto's viewpoint?
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Old 08-20-2017, 05:39 PM   #23
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Issy, that Goodreads review is incorrect. The magazine was The Saturday Evening Post.
Thanks for the correction.
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Old 08-21-2017, 12:23 PM   #24
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I haven't even started it, but based on early reports, I went ahead and downloaded the additional ones that are up on FadedPage (Canadian Public Domain site.) Still considering using some of my AudibleUK credits on one or more of them. Will depend on how much I enjoy this one.
Abandoned at 40%. Just wasn't working for me at all. I appreciate the sense of place, but without a character I cared about, it just didn't work.
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Old 08-21-2017, 03:51 PM   #25
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Abandoned at 40%. Just wasn't working for me at all. I appreciate the sense of place, but without a character I cared about, it just didn't work.
I stayed with it because I wanted to see what happened and that it wasn't all that long. But, I didn't care for the fact that the main character wasn't really a part of the story and you didn't get to know all that much about Moto. It just didn't work.
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Old 08-21-2017, 11:37 PM   #26
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Jon, in my view the main character is Casey Lee.
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Old 08-22-2017, 06:32 PM   #27
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Jon, in my view the main character is Casey Lee.
But the main character is supposed to be Mr. Moto. For me, it didn't work because of this.

It would be like reading a Miss Marple mystery and the main character is someone else.
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Old 08-29-2017, 01:44 PM   #28
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Well, I'm late to this discussion - I had a crazy month at work with travel and training two new employees, which didn't leave much spare time. But finally got into it, and read it on a plane home last week.

I have to say that I had read this a looooong time ago, in a tattered and fragile old-style "pocket book" paperback, which I definitely remember had an awesome pulp-ish cover. I didn't remember the book super favorably, although I remember even way back then it opened my eyes to some east Asian history that I hadn't really understood before reading it prompted me to do a little extra encyclopedia reading - yes, that long ago!

I'm happy to say that I liked it better this time, possibly because I have done some travel in east Asia in the years between, so I appreciated the settings more than before. And settings are for me (like BelleZora and issybird) really important. I can forgive a lot if the settings ring true. Even the story seemed better this time too, though. I think when I was young, "redemption" stories didn't resonate with me; now that I'm older, I think I have a bit more empathy.

I also share others' comments that Mr Moto doesn't seem to be the lead character, and I'm trying to remember the two or three other Moto titles I read and whether that is the case in them as well. But, I can't remember, so will probably have to (re)read at least one or two more , maybe all since they are not expensive.

Anyway, I'm glad the book club got me to re-read this one!
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