On August 15th, 1946, the first anniversary of the Japanese surrender, the partially decomposed bodies of two women are found in the ruins of Zojoji 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 Zero tells 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 10 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 Zero is blistering and unforgettable, a stunningly original crime novel.
©2007 David Peace (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“Tokyo Year Zero is part historical stunner, part Kurosawa crime film, an original all the way. David Peace's depiction of a war-torn metropolis both crumbling and ascendant is peerless, and the story itself is beautifully wrought.” (James Ellroy)
“Riveting….Peace, whose complex style feels like a cross between Haruki Murakami and James Ellroy, delivers an expressionistic portrait of a harrowing, devastated time and place.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Astounding….Tokyo Year Zero is Peace’s most accessible work, the culmination of years of fine-tuning his idiosyncratic voice to its truest frequency….What we have here is not just a novel with voice, but also with rhythm, which must be learned and sharpened by the writer and is extraordinarily difficult to get right.” (Los Angeles Times Book Review)
Mark Bramhall does a good job with the material and I think that the Blackstone production is excellent.
The material however is excessively stylized - the use of repetition is so extreme as to become quickly ridiculous. The phrase "I itch and I scratch. Gari-gari." alone is repeated several hundred times. The author's "idiosyncratic voice" is more like the sound of dentist's drill, which is to say deeply irritating.
The book is affective as an audiobook - if the desired affect is to experience mental illness first hand, but there's no enjoyment in it on any level.
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