I had absolutely zero knowledge of the book going into it. I happened across it on Overdrive from the library and decided to listen to the audiobook of it (all twenty-four hours of it).
I went in with expectations of a fast-paced thriller, and instead this book is a slow psychological mystery, examining the inner workings of the police in Japan. It digs into the corruption, bargaining, and the sense of justice in Japan, especially dealing with the media and the police.
Release: 2012 (translated 2016)
Synopsis: Fourteen years ago, the police botched a kidnapping of a young girl, resulting in her death. The case remains unsolved, until the police commissioner announces a visit to the police prefecture to try to solve the case and a police detective turned press officer must confront the scars of his own life and the secrets within the police force to solve the complex case.
This book may be disguised as a mystery, but at it’s heart it is a psychological examination of humanity, and a good one at that. Yokoyama takes his time in helping the reader understand every single character (and there are a whole lot of them), but we also see everyone from Mikami’s perspective. He may be a detective turned press director (the person in the police force in charge of relaying information about cases to the press), but he is also a fallible individual with biases. He himself is dealing with a lot, as his sixteen-year-old daughter ran away and his wife is suffering from major depression. It’s a serious book and standing at almost six hundred pages, it’s also a challenge read, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The book examines themes like loss, betrayal, and the constant question of what is true. Mikami is always learning more, all while he is dealing with strange episodes of blacking out. Both his physical and mental health is constantly in question.
The one weakness of the book is the massive cast of characters. You have multiple people working under Mikami. You have several reporters who are main characters. And then you have so many characters in different levels of the police force, all with their own motivations and secrets. And that’s not even considering all the people involved in the cases throughout the book and main characters’ families. In fact, there are so many characters I’m pretty sure I forgot half of them. This makes this a difficult book to follow and even more difficult to remember all the various clues and revelations discovered throughout.
Because Hideo Yokoyama worked for years as an investigative crime reporter, he has an extreme level of knowledge how the media and police interact. This brings a level of depth and understanding to how the force and laws work, making this book feel as much an examination of the Japanese police force as it does a mystery.
The ending (the last hundred pages or so) is really when the thriller part actually picks up, but outside of that the story focuses on the characters. Being a lover of great characters, I didn’t mind this. However, if you go into this book expecting a fast-paced thriller, you’ll be disappointed.
I won’t give any spoilers because I found this book to be so good it cannot be spoiled without spending an hour or more summing up all the complexities and red herrings. However, I was satisfied with the ending, though the story went in a totally different direction than I was expecting.
I’m not sure if any of Yokoyama’s other books have been translated to English, but if they have been I would love to read them. I was thoroughly impressed with this book and can highly recommend it!
Have you heard of this book? Does it look good to you? What is your favorite thriller which focuses on character development? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,
Best wishes in your life full of adventure,