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Literature / The Man with the Red Tattoo

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The eighth James Bond novel by Raymond Benson, published in 2002.

With the Union having been dealt with, their place in the most wanted lists has been taken by one Goro Yoshida, a Japanese terrorist. While he plots against the decadent West, Bond is sent to Japan a few weeks before a secret G8 summit conference to investigate the suspicious deaths of a British businessman and his family. Working together with his old ally Tiger Tanaka, he eventually finds out that the deaths are linked to Yoshida, setting the two men into direct conflict with each other.

Not to be confused with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, even if the page image indicates that the red tattoo is also a dragon tattoo.


This novel has examples of:

  • Alliterative Name: Mayumi McMahon, the missing heir to her father's fortune after the deaths of her entire close family.
  • Animal Assassin: With the help of a morally-corrupt scientist, the Yakuza has developed a strain of mosquito which infects people with a strain of the West Nile virus that acts ten times faster than normal, killing them within a day. Yoshida's Evil Plan involves using them against the G8 summit conference and other locations around the world.
  • Antagonist Title: The novel's title is used twice to describe the main villain, making it this trope.
  • Big Bad: Goro Yoshida, a Japanese nationalist terrorist and a shadow leader of sorts of the Ryujin-kai Yakuza.
  • Blade Enthusiast: Kappa's weapon of choice is a balisong, or a butterfly knife, which he always carries with him.
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  • Cartwright Curse: As Reiko lies bedridden from the fast-acting strain of West Nile mentioned above, Bond ponders how another woman had gotten emotionally close to him and may have received a bad end because of it. Sure enough, next morning, he finds out that she has died.
  • Chain Pain: Bond ends up in a brief fight with Noburo Ichihara, a Bōsōzoku leader who tries to attack him with a chain. After one missed swing, Reiko pulls a gun on the guy, and he takes his leave.
  • Chase Scene: One starts when Ichihara shoots Bond's informant, and he gives chase.
  • Chekhov's Gift: Bond receives an antique Japanese sword as a gift from Tanaka after the action around the G8 summit, and not even a day manages to pass before he has to use it in a Sword Fight against Yoshida.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Death Trap: Kappa arranges Bond and Reiko getting locked in their train compartment with the infectious mosquitos, switches off the lights in the train and then pulls the emergency brake lever to stop the train in a tunnel, leaving them alone in the darkness with the deadly insects.
  • The Dragon: Yasutake Tsukamoto is official leader (oyabun) of the Ryujin-kai, and is Yoshida's man in Japan to ensure that his scheme goes as planned.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Bond and Mayumi attempt to infiltrate Hokkaido Mosquito and Vector Control Centre by knocking out two scientists and taking their protective suits, but Mayumi blows their cover by screaming because of aggressive mosquitoes and they're caught.
  • Driven to Suicide: When Yoshida realizes that he has been beaten, he commits Seppuku in front of Bond and Mayumi, followed by his friend Tsukamoto decapitating him.
  • Evil Plan: Yoshida's plan, dubbed Red Widow Dawn by him, consists of unleashing the altered mosquitoes within the G8 summit conference, and organize more attacks like it in major cities around the world.
  • Fingore: When the corpse of Kenji Umeki, Mayumi's former boyfriend is discovered, he is missing all of his fingers, signifying that he was killed by the Yakuza for a tremendous mistake.
  • Gold Tooth: Ichihara has a gold tooth, which is displayed prominently when he smiles at the captured Bond.
  • Improvised Weapon: As he is chased through a fish market, Noburo Ichihara grabs a hook to attack Bond with, which is countered by Bond's partner Reiko throwing an octopus on his face.
  • Island Base: Yoshida and his private army has set up camp in Etorofu, one of the Kuril Islands, which reside in a disputed territory between Russia and Japan.
  • Just Between You and Me: As Yoshida has Bond in his clutches, he decides to tell him what exactly he is planning to do with the mutated mosquitoes.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Takuya Abo, Kenji Umeki's cousin, is shot in the head by Noburo Ichihara just as he is going to tell Bond and Reiko about Goro Yoshida's whereabouts.
  • Neck Snap: Bond hits a mook in the back of the neck so hard that the bones crack.
  • Older than They Look: Yoshida is nearly sixty years old, but thanks to his daily exercises of kendo and the like, he looks only over forty.
  • Post-Climax Confrontation: Yoshida manages to avoid the Japanese Defense Force crafts sent to demolish his compound, and attacks Bond in his hotel room together with Tsukamoto.
  • Red Right Hand: Junji Kon, nicknamed Kappa, is a Depraved Dwarf and true to his nickname, he has a bowl-like depression on top of his head, which makes him resemble a Kappa, a demon from Japanese mythology.
  • Slashed Throat: Trailing Shinji Fujimoto, Bond and Tanaka eventually find him stabbed to death in his car, and his driver with his throat cut.
  • Sword Fight: When Bond's chase after Ichihara takes them behind a curtain of a Kabuki play, they start fighting each other with stage weapons.
  • Thriller on the Express: On their way to Sapporo, Bond and Reiko end up in a confrontation with Kappa, who is on the same train to get rid of them.
  • Title Drop: Done twice.
    • The first instance comes as Yasutake Tsukamoto ponders about the madness of the scheme concocted by his friend and leader Yoshida.
    But it's what the man with the red tattoo wanted and that was what he was going to get.
    • The second instance comes when Yoshida commits Seppuku.
    The man with the red tattoo glared at Bond and then thrust the wakizashi deeply into his flesh.
  • Unwilling Suspension: After Kappa manages to kick Bond unconscious, he ties him up and leaves him dangling from train tunnel ceiling, leaving him to die from the impact of the next locomotive on the tracks.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: After Ryujin-kai, the owners of the Yonai Enterprises, gain the control of CureLab Inc. from Shinji Fujimoto, they have him killed.
  • Yubitsume: Brought up after Bond notices a youth who is missing a digit in one of his fingers, and Reiko explains the practice of Yakuza members making amends for failures by cutting them off.