On August 15th, 1946, the first anniversary of the Japanese surrender, the partially decomposed bodies of two women are found in the ruins of Z┼ìj┼ìji Temple in central Tokyo. They have been raped and strangled—and they are only the first. More will be found killed in the same way—and, it will become clear, by the same hand.
Narrated by the irreverent, angry, despairing yet determined Detective Minami of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police,Tokyo Year Zerotells the riveting, complex story of the hunt for Kodaira Yoshio—known as the Japanese Bluebeard—a decorated former Imperial soldier who raped and murdered at least ten women amidst the turmoil of Tokyo between May 1945 and August 1946. And it is the story of Detective Minami, chasing down, and haunted by, his own memories of atrocities that he can no longer explain or forgive.
It is also a chilling portrait of a city—and a nation—going through a hellish period in its history: the despair and shame of its citizens, the disintegration of the social fabric, the physical devastation of the landscape. The novel takes place in a noir, twilight world, and shows us the terrifying contrast between the polite, highly codified society of Japan and the painful rawness beneath.
A story told with demanding power, written in a telegraphic, darkly lyrical language, shot through with wry humor, unblinking in its vision of the chaos left in the wake of war and of the moral and psychological corruption it engenders—Tokyo Year Zerois blistering and unforgettable, a stunningly original crime novel.
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"Wow. I am so glad I picked up this book on a whim, because it was just fantastic. I really have to read the next two books in this trilogy when I can get a hold of them. I'd not read anything by David Peace before, although I am familiar with him through the tv/film type series The Red Riding Trilogy (although apparently there were four books and they're better than the tv series - so I've heard). That was a kind of fictional police story/drama with the real life Yorkshire Ripper investigation going on at the same time. And there's all the police corruption and brutality going on as well. Because it's grim up north =). This seems to be in a similar vein, in that there is a real life Japanese serial sex killer going on alongside the fictional story of police detective Minami, as well as police corruption and brutality, gang warfare, backstabbing, and the police system being at the brink of a change when there are massive purges going on through the ranks (people threatened with execution - scary stuff!) and mutterings of human rights coming in, so they can't just hold suspects for however long they feel like with no good reason etc. As well as all of this, Japan has just surrendered and the Americans have moved into town. So Tokyo is a bombed out wreck, having just finished with the war, but the people still suffering and starving, trying to find food by any means necessary. There is just so much going on in this, that really I think it's one of these books you could read several times and get new things out of it with each reading."
Ape (5 out of 5 stars)