Friday, 27 January 2017

Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolás Obregón

Book Review

Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolás Obregón

"You ever hear that saying about Tokyo being a million cities all at once? You wonder if maybe some of them are good and some of them are bad?"

Blue Light Yokohama will be released on February 2nd. It is written by Nicolás Obregón and published by Penguin.

Back to the new releases after last week's classic. Out next month, Blue Light Yokohama is a crime thriller set in Tokyo that is both tense and well-written.


Setagya ward, Tokyo

Inspector Kosuke Iwata, newly transferred to Tokyo's homicide department, is assigned a new partner and a secondhand case.

Blunt, hard as nails and shunned by her colleagues, Assistant Inspector Noriko Sakai is a partner Iwata decides it would be unwise to cross.

A case that's complicated - a family of four murdered in their own home by a killer who then ate ice cream, surfed the web and painted a hideous black sun on the bedroom ceiling before he left in broad daylight. A case that so haunted the original investigator that he threw himself off the city's famous Rainbow Bridge.

Carrying his own secret torment, Iwata is no stranger to pain. He senses the trauma behind the killer's brutal actions. Yet his progress is thwarted in the unlikeliest of places.

Fearing corruption among his fellow officers, tracking a killer he's sure is only just beginning and trying to put his own shattered life back together, Iwata knows time is running out before he's taken off the case or there are more killings...

This is the first thriller I've read that is set in Japan and it was both eye-opening and at times difficult to follow, as I know embarrassingly little about Tokyo. However, Obregón is quite good at explaining about the culture without making it sound like a text book.

The story develops slowly before ramping up to an almost ridiculous pace in the last few pages.
It's an interesting story, and not an easy one to guess. Though there is a lot going on; suicides, murder, cults, occult, not to mention Iwata's back story, at times it does feel a bit busy, and I had to remind myself of who's who and what's what. However, it did grip me at the end and I read the last half especially in a rush.

It took me a while to connect with the lead character, Kosuke Iwata. He is built on a fairly recognisable detective character; troubled past, maverick attitude, drinking problem. But there are elements that lift him to something a bit higher, and he also seems to have a softer, more delicate side than a lot of other detectives in fiction.

His past is slowly revealed through the book, with flashbacks to his childhood and earlier years, which creates an interesting counter-story to the main plot and breaks it up when it becomes a bit too swamped.

What really sets the book apart for me is Obregón's writing; if you take all the confusion away Blue Light Yokohama is a fairly common thriller with a troubled detective, hidden back story and unlikely murderer, but the language and descriptions give it an almost dream like feel.

The prose is littered with perfect little descriptions that are both unique and accurate. Here are a few of my favourites:

"His head was a rung bell. His ankle was cracked porcelain."

"Cranes in the distance slept like flamingos."

"The cold painted his breath on the air, smiling faces forming in the white."

The writing combined with a gripping, if somewhat formulaic, thriller, makes Blue Light Yokohama an intriguing read.

My rating: 3.5/5 (rounded up to 4 stars for Goodreads and NetGalley)

I received a digital copy of the book via NetGalley in return for an honest review. My thanks to the author and publisher.

1 comment:

  1. Like you, I loved Obregon' prose. He really does have a gorgeous turn of phrase! I wasn't so happy about the overall story though. My review goes up on Literary Flits tomorrow.

    Stephanie Jane @ Literary Flits