I have recently read two very different books that I want to rave about. One being a Japanese crime story and the other an Italian coming-of-age dark noir tale. Both completely different, yet both satisfying for the mind.
I will start with Blue Light Yokohama which by the name, you can probably guess is the Japanese crime fiction novel!
Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolas Obregon
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Sarah Harwood at Penguin sent me a copy of this after I fell in love with the blurb – so thank you to her! This book has opened up a whole new world of Japanese crime fiction for me which I have been missing since reading ‘Six Four’ earlier this year.
Considering Nicolas Obregon isn’t Japanese, he knows the culture remarkably well, understands the police hierarchy and has brazenly used an unsolved real-life murder as the basis for this Tokyo set novel.
Inspector Iwata; a determined and noticeably defiant man, has recently transferred to Tokyo’s homicide department and is assigned a new partner, Sakai, and a secondhand case – a family of four murdered in their own home by a killer who painted a black sun on the bedroom ceiling before leaving in broad daylight. One thing though, is that the original detective leading the enquiry killed himself by leaping off the city’s famous Rainbow Bridge.
We follow Iwata and Sakai on their journey of tracking down a murderer they are sure is only just getting started. Thrown into the storyline are corrupt officers, twists and turns galore and relationships that will keep your bum on your seat until you have squeezed every last word out of it.
This is an excitable, rollercoaster of a read and one that I sure hope will become a series!
Can You Hear Me? by Elena Varvello
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
This is the winner of the English PEN Award which has been translated from Italian. After I read all about this unusual story in the press, I decided to request a copy from the publisher, Two Roads, which they kindly sent.
In the August of 1978, a girl goes into the woods and vanishes, and a boy is murdered. Troubling times start for Elia Furenti, who is sixteen and living an unremarkable life with his parents in a secluded house. Although there is something quite odd about his father… Elia claims that it is his father who took the girl into the woods before she vanished, and it is emotional and interesting following the story of how we get to that moment.
Elena Varvello is a superb writer. She is subtle with great attention to detail and weaves a storyline that pulls you into the heart of it. Can You Hear Me? is a perfect coming-of-age novel, with a dark core that will make you read until the very last page. It is a story about mental illness; a subject that is not so taboo anymore, and you can see how Elena Varvello has poured her heart and soul into this beautiful, haunting piece of fiction.
So, perhaps these are two you can consider adding to your TBR?