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Suspense, Intrigue, Unique


Mystery, Literary Fiction

James Roth grew up in southeastern Alabama during the sixties. His father worked for the Army, investigating helicopter accidents. His mother was a homemaker who had studied voice at Julliard. His father's job led him to Heidelberg, Germany, where he graduated from high school. He made the mistake of taking up golf while in Germany, an addiction that has stayed with him to this day. It brings him much satisfaction and much pain, as most addictions do. After graduating from high school, he returned to the U.S. and attended what was then called Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado, graduating with a master's in English. A life of skiing, golf, hunting, fly fishing, and riding his motorcycle to Aspen and Telluride were joys. Then along came the reality of making a living. He failed at writing fiction and turned to trying to get a job as a copywriter, attending The School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, crisscrossing Manhattan on a bicycle as a messenger to pay the rent. He failed to land a job as a copywriter, which he now realizes served him well, and left for Japan to teach English at a private language school, perhaps the most meaningful event in his life up to that time. He stayed in Japan for more than twenty years, first living in Akita, then Sendai. During this time, he now and then wrote nonfiction articles about Japanese culture that were published on the now-defunct websites and When the school he worked at cut teachers' pay, he was forced to leave Japan. He went to teach English at Shenzhen University and then The Chinese University of Hong Kong/Shenzhen, but he spent most of his free time hiking the mountains of neighboring Hong Kong. After more than fifteen years in China, he became weary of life there and applied to, and was accepted into, the U.S. State Department's English Language Fellow Program. He accepted a posting at Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe, and considers Zimbabwe a second home, though his heart remains Japanese. His parents lived in American-occupied Japan in the months before he was born, so he likes to say he was “Made in Japan.” To his lasting regret, he was born in a military hospital in Georgia. He writes fiction across all genres, essays, and creative nonfiction. He is married to a Zimbabwean and is the middle son in a family of three brothers. He can be reached at @Tweet_JRoth.

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James Roth

         In 1873 Nelson Van Dorn, a former New York City police detective, sails for Yokohama, Japan, expecting to go into the silk exporting business with his younger brother, whom he plans to meet there. What Nelson learns upon his arrival, however, is that his brother is dead, that he was an opium addict, and that he has left Nelson in debt. In order to pay off this debt, Nelson reluctantly takes on an investigation to find the nephew of an elderly Jewish man, Ari Markel, whose grandson, a merchant marine, has disappeared. As Nelson follows leads to track down Mr. Markel's nephew, he uncovers the secrets of other expatriates, Mr. Markel's motives in hiring him, and the truth about his brother's death.

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