Genre: Thriller, Detective fiction, Japanese literature
Style: Third person from the point of view of lead detective, Yoshinobu Mikami
Synopsis: Yoshinobu Mikami has just been transferred to the media relations department, not a role he relishes. At the same time, his teenage daughter has run away from home. When he has to organise a visit by the commissioner to the father of a kidnapping victim, on the anniversary of the case, he begins to discover problems in the original case as well as intrigue and scheming within the Criminal Investigations and Administrative affairs departments as they seek to gain power over each other.
It is always interesting to read literature from another culture and I have to admit, I haven’t read much Japanese literature before. I don’t really know much about the culture apart from some stereotypical aspects. This book, not only is an interesting thriller but gives an insight into Japanese culture and the way that their police system works.
At the beginning of the novel, it was easy to sympathise with Mikami. His own daughter has just disappeared, he has been moved to a department he didn’t like and he missed being a detective. When he is tasked with arranging the visit to Amamiya, the father of the kidnapping victim all those years ago, we can see the toll it takes on him and his despair when the visit is refused.
Throughout the novel, my empathy level and even how much I liked Mikami changed quite considerably. It was often clear to see why he behaved the way he did, even when you could see the mistakes he was making. Mikami is not perfect and doesn’t always make the right decisions but I never stopped wanting him to win, if that is the right way to phrase it. I wanted him to succeed in his role, to win over the reporters, to help solve the crime.
Sometimes it was hard to grasp the bureaucratic details. Without a detailed knowledge of the different areas of the police force, it was difficult to understand exactly what the issues were between Criminal Investigations and Administrative affairs. Why was it so important that one of the divisions might lose their director? Why was media relations so looked down on? But ultimately, these questions were overridden by the tension in the book and, towards the end, the pace of the action.
I didn’t spot the twist at the end. It was incredibly clever and while I had some inklings of what it might be, I would never have completely worked it out. I found it difficult at the beginning to remember who was who as their were a lot of similar sounding names. I had no idea that this would become a crucial detail of the plot