Michael Pronko


Michael Pronko is an award-winning, Tokyo-based writer of murder, memoir and music. His writings on Tokyo life and his taut character-driven mysteries have won critics’ awards and five-star reviews. Kirkus Reviews called his second novel, The Moving Blade, “An elegant balance of Japanese customs with American-style hard-boiled procedural” and selected it for their Best Books of 2018.

Michael also runs the website, Jazz in Japan, about the vibrant jazz scene in Tokyo and Yokohama. He has written regular columns about Japanese culture, art, jazz, society and politics for Newsweek Japan, The Japan Times, Artscape Japan, Jazznin, and ST Shukan. He has also appeared on NHK and Nippon Television.

A philosophy major, Michael traveled for years, ducking in and out of graduate schools, before finishing his PhD on Charles Dickens and film, and settling in Tokyo as a professor of American Literature at Meiji Gakuin University. He teaches contemporary American novels, film adaptations, music and art.

Where to find Michael Pronko online


Tokyo Traffic
Trailer for Tokyo Traffic


Shitamachi Scam
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 84,770. Language: English. Published: December 15, 2023 . Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Hard-Boiled
After the suspicious deaths of a seventy-something woman and a student recluse, Detective Hiroshi tracks a gang of scammers. Hiroshi teams up with Detective Ishii from the women’s crime task force, and together, they search for who’s been ripping off retirees in shitamachi, the old part of Tokyo. Hiroshi finds out who’s behind the scams and who’s behind the scammers.
Azabu Getaway
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 82,830. Language: English. Published: September 10, 2022 . Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural, Fiction » Mystery & detective » International crime
After the murder of a high-flying executive in one of Tokyo’s wealth management firms, Detective Hiroshi investigates the financial schemes of Tokyo’s elite investors. He gets sidetracked by a second murder and the abduction of the daughters of a hotshot wealth manager. Working with Sakaguchi and Takamatsu, Hiroshi confronts greed and violence in one of the wealthiest cities in the world.
Tokyo Zangyo
Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 84,700. Language: English. Published: July 30, 2021 . Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » International crime, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural
After a manager in Japan’s premier media company ends up dead in front of company headquarters, Detective Hiroshi enters the high-pressure, hard-driving world of Tokyo’s monolithic corporations. Hiroshi scours the off-record spending, lavish entertaining and unspoken agreements that keep Japan, Inc. running with brutal efficiency through “zangyo” or unpaid overtime.
Tokyo Traffic
Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 84,020. Language: English. Published: June 20, 2020 . Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » International crime, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural
In Tokyo, a city she doesn’t know, Sukanya, a young Thai girl, stays ahead of human traffickers who will do anything to recover the computer she took. With help from Chiho, a Japanese girl living in a net café, she tries to get free. Detective Hiroshi Shimizu is called to a porn studio where a brutal triple murder took place. Hiroshi tracks the killers through Tokyo’s music clubs and teen hangout
The Moving Blade
Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 89,940. Language: English. Published: December 28, 2018 . Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Hard-Boiled, Fiction » Mystery & detective » International crime
When the top American diplomat in Tokyo is killed, he leaves more than a lifetime of Japan-American negotiations. He leaves a missing manuscript, a lost keynote speech and an estranged daughter. Detective Hiroshi Shimizu searches for the killer from Tokyo’s back alley bars to government offices, anti-nuke protests and an American military base in this Tokyo-based mystery/thriller.
The Last Train
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 88,760. Language: English. Published: May 31, 2017 . Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » International crime, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural
In this Tokyo thriller, Detective Hiroshi Shimizu, a specialist in what collar crime, is pulled out to the scene of grisly murder--a murder by train. Hiroshi teams up with ex-sumo wrestler Sakaguchi to scour Tokyo’s hostess clubs, sacred temples, and skyscraper offices to find an elusive killer before she extracts her final revenge—which just might be him.
Motions and Moments
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 51,550. Language: English. Published: December 18, 2015 . Categories: Nonfiction » Travel » Essays & Travelogues, Nonfiction » Travel » By region » Asia
Motions and Moments captures the ceaseless flow and brief momentary dramas of the biggest city in the world with gentle humor and rich detail. As in his first two books, this third memoir of life in Tokyo explores the uniqueness of Tokyo life: living in small spaces, learning to love crowds, sitting under cherry blossoms, and surviving the 2011 earthquake.
Tokyo's Mystery Deepens
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 44,010. Language: English. Published: December 13, 2014 . Categories: Nonfiction » Travel » Essays & Travelogues, Nonfiction » Travel » By region » Asia
Award-winning novelist Michael Pronko examines Tokyo as a place, a culture, and a series of intense experiences. Tokyo’s Mystery Deepens digs into the enigmatic sides of Tokyo with humor, delicacy, and enchantment. A transplanted American from the Midwest, Pronko’s observations and experiences open up the many, miniscule doors into Tokyo life.
Beauty and Chaos
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 44,670. Language: English. Published: November 7, 2014 . Categories: Nonfiction » Travel » Essays & Travelogues, Nonfiction » Travel » By region » Asia
Part memoir, part travelogue, and part culture guide, Beauty and Chaos taps into the daily mysteries and poignant moments that make living in Tokyo a baffling delight. After two-plus decades writing, teaching, and living in Tokyo, American novelist and literature professor, Michael Pronko, reveals what’s beneath the gleaming, puzzling exteriors of the biggest city in the world.