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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #649

Wed, 08/09/2017 - 10:41pm

With the melancholic lyrics of one of Japan's top singles Blue Light Yokohama * * threading through the narrative, debut novelist Nicolás Obregón introduces Inspector Iwata in an atmospheric and hauntingly beautiful series opener. The story was inspired in part, by an actual unsolved crime in 2000.

Kosuke Iwata, newly reinstated to the Homicide Division of the Tokyo Police was immediately assigned to a multiple murder case when the lead detective committed suicide. His new partner, the sharp-tongued, brash dynamo Noriko Sakai was less than enthusiastic - weary of the gossips surround Iwata's troubled past, suspicious of his American background (UCLA), and frustrated with superiors who clearly want them to fail.

On February 14, four members of the Kaneshiro family were brutally butchered in their home. While the Tokyo brass were ready to pin the murders on a crippled thug, Iwata and Sakai puzzled over the ritualistic details at the crime scene - missing body part, a distinctive incense smell, and symbol of a black sun scrolled on the ceiling. Almost immediately, the "Black Sun Killer" claimed another victim - the widow of a prominent judge.

Fighting his personal demons and insomnia, Iwata relentlessly follows up on every lead, explores every angle, trying to connect these murders while finding others as far away as Hong Kong, and instinctively knowing that the killer is not done.

"Obregón (a LA-based travel writer who fell in love with Japan while on assignment for a magazine) maintains a high level of suspense throughout his superior fiction debut, an intricately constructed whodunit that doesn’t sacrifice depth of characterization for plot." (Publishers Weekly)

Fans of police procedurals set in contemporary Japan might also enjoy Malice (the first in the Kyochiro Kaga mystery series) and Under the Midnight Sun (a Detective Sasagaki novel), both by Edgar-nominated Keigo Higashino.

The tormented Iwata brings to mind Insomnia (2002), an American psychological thriller that is a remake of the 1997 Norwegian noir classic.

* * = 2 starred reviews



This sounds like one that I'll have to be sure to check out!!

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This sounds fascinating. I know someone who studies detective novels from around the world, and apparently it is an excellent way to get to know the logic systems and problem solving strategies in a different culture.