Lucie Blackman - tall, blond, 21 years old - stepped out into the vastness of Tokyo in the summer of 2000 and disappeared. The following winter, her dismembered remains were found buried in a seaside cave. The seven months in between had seen a massive search for the missing girl involving Japanese policemen, British private detectives, and Lucie’s desperate but bitterly divided parents. Had Lucie been abducted by a religious cult or snatched by human traffickers? Who was the mysterious man she had gone to meet? And what did her work as a hostess in the notorious Roppongi district of Tokyo really involve?
Richard Lloyd Parry, an award-winning foreign correspondent, followed the case from the beginning. Over the course of a decade, as the rest of the world forgot but the trial dragged on, he traveled to four continents to interview those connected with the story, assiduously followed the court proceedings, and won unique access to the Japanese detectives who investigated the case. Ultimately he earned the respect of the victim’s family and delved deep into the mind and background of the man accused of the crime - Joji Obara, described by the judge as “unprecedented and extremely evil.” The result is a book at once thrilling and revelatory.
Richard Lloyd Parry is the Asia editor and Tokyo bureau chief of the London Times and the author of In the Time of Madness.
©2011, 2012 Richard Lloyd Parry (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“A masterpiece of writing this surely is, but it is more than that - it is a committed, compassionate, courageous act of journalism that changes the way we think. Everyone who has ever loved someone and held that life dear should read this stunning book, and shiver.” (Chris Cleave, number one New York Times best-selling author of Little Bee)
“I opened this book as a skeptic. I am not a lover of true crime…. But Richard Lloyd Parry's remarkable examination of [this] crime, what it revealed about Japanese society and how it unsettled conventional notions of bereavement, elevates his book above the genre. People Who Eat Darkness is a searing exploration of evil and trauma and how both ultimately elude understanding or resolution.… Just as the grief of Blackman’s parents is unassaugeable, Obara and his motives are unknowable. That is the darkness at the heart of this book, one Lloyd Parry conveys with extraordinary effect and emotion.… People Who Eat Darkness is a fascinating mediation that does not pretend to offer pat answers to obscene mysteries.” (New York Times Book Review)
“[A] masterful literary true crime story, which earns its comparisons to Truman Capote's In Cold Blood and Norman Mailer's The Executioner’s Song.… Like the case of Etan Patz, the Lucie Blackman disappearance captured the public imagination. By writing about it in such culturally informed detail, Parry subtly encourages an understanding that goes past the headlines. It is a dark, unforgettable ride.” (Los Angeles Times)
I can't begin to describe how riveting this book is -- I read the text version, which is completely brilliant, but wanted to revisit it on a long car trip. Simon Vance's performance -- and the emotion he allows to creep into his voice in certain places, as he himself is affected by this tragic and disturbing story -- is nothing short of revelatory.
And the book itself -- the story of a deeply perverse and brutal murder, the specifically Japanese approach to the problem of criminal justice, and of a single broken family, all at once -- is not to be missed.
Can't recommend it highly enough.
THIS IS A REVIEW OF THE AUDIOBOOK VERSION
First off, I have to say that true crime books are not my thing. However, a friend (who also isn’t a true crime person) made the book sound so good that I felt like I had to give it a go. The thing that really pushed me over the edge, though, was that Simon Vance narrated the book and I’ve heard about how great he is as a narrator. (And he is fabulous … I see the attraction.) As I listened about the account of the disappearance of 21-year-old Brit Lucie Blackman from the streets of Tokyo, I got caught up in the story just as Richard Lloyd Parry did. (Parry is the Asia Editor and Tokyo Bureau Chief for the London Times.) Aside from being a true crime book, it is also a glimpse into the culture and legal system of Japan, which was absolutely fascinating. The book also delves into how people grieve and react to violent crimes in different ways, and why families are often torn apart rather than brought together by such events. Parry does a brilliant job of weaving together a rather complex story in a way that was always interesting and informative. Even if true crime isn’t your thing, I still think you’d find much of interest in this well-written and riveting book. Consider it a crash course on Japanese culture, history and legal system if that makes you feel better.
Say something about yourself!
It is no wonder that this crime haunted and intrigued Parry (Tokyo bureau chief for the London Times) for 10 yrs.; it's hard to wrap your head around such evil and remorseless crimes -- and a culture that treats both sexual deviance and prosecution of criminals so foreignly from Western societies. Kudos to Parry for keeping this tangled story so on track and objective. The author has layered the crime with insightful histories of the victim and the perp, the cultural morals, and the Japanese police and legal process, which is all fascinating. I was blown away by the behavior of the killer Obara while he was in custody, and by several other incidents that I won't go into lest I spoil some shocking twists.
The crime itself is told mercifully free of many details -- you don't need them as the crime itself speaks volumes. The focus here is on the overall layered events, which are presented in a precise timeline. Parry himself becomes involved in the case, adding another fascinating dimension to a story that is on par with Capote's In Cold Blood (a comparison I can't credit for reaching myself; I read the obsservation in a review and found it dead on). Parry's investigative journalism is a different style from Capote's, but a reading worthy of comparisons. Aside from an horrific crime, I found the insider look into the culture and process illuminating.
This is an engrossing and well written tale. Despite the genuinely creepy subject matter it never veers toward the exploitative. Incredibly well narrated. Everything I've listened to since disappoints in comparison. My life is sad now.
I had seen a review of this (book) from a friend and decided to get it on Audible. I was instantly hooked into the story from the first moment. What sets this apart from the traditional true crime book is the way the story is told from several different perspectives, based on interviews with friends, family and acquaintances of the victim, but also acquaintances and family of the perpetrated. It ends up being both a chronological story of a crime, its investigation, and the trial and a character study of many of the most prominent characters, not just the victim. It also presents a portrait of the difference between Japanese and British/American world views about crime, justice, society, and family. It really was almost impossible to stop listening once I started, and I highly recommend it if you're looking for an engrossing listen.
The narrator, who I have heard on several other audio books, was excellent.
Helter Skelter. Both are definitive looks at shocking and brutal crimes committed by people given over to evil and the desire to inflict themselves. It is clear Obara, like Manson and his followers surrendered his humanity in his dark quest to satisfy base desires.
When they finally arrested this savage lunatic
How the Japanese regard the separation between themselves and foreigners as hierarchical as part of a "class structure" and act according to a missing persons "importance"
Obara's evil was endemic and widespread. His victims, dead, that we know of are 2, yet he also drugged and raped at least 90-100 other women.Was his money and influence so wide ranging only the death of a pretty western girl and her implacable family could bring it to light?
I heart audiobooks! Best way to "read"!
Dark. Disturbing. Compelling.
The entire book is memorable.
The title is horrible. It's a true crime novel of hostess girls in Japan. I'm not great at titles but it could use a better one than this.
Best true crime novel I've "read" in ages. The narration is spot-on.
Say something about yourself!
Very sad tale of a missing and murdered girl and the apathy and ignorance of the Tokyo police. Interesting look into a seedier side of Japan that most Westerners are unaware of.
This book started well --- interesting story, excellent writing, compelling mystery -- and it made me really want to find out what happened. But after a few hours it seemed to get mired in so many details that it lost the larger thread of the story for me. Eventually I just gave up. I'm guessing there was more substance to all the narrative details than what I took with me, and all the details in the middle probably had a storytelling purpose. But the end result for me was a feeling of too much setup and not enough payoff.
Obsessive reader, 6-10 books a week, chosen from Member reviews. Fact & fiction, subjects from the Tudors to Tookie, Harlem to Hiroshima, Huey Long to Huey Newton. In-depth fair reviews - from front to BLACK!!!
Of the almost 1,500 audiobooks that I've listened to, this is the Top 100.
No one in particular. The victim was rather naive and, for me, it was difficult to dredge up any sympathy for her. This is a TRUE story so there are no "characters", per se. Only many people caught up in a bloody incomprehensible nightmare.
Simon Vance is a master. I often buy books about subjects which don't interest me if Simon Vance is the narrator. He could make the active ingredients in Mr. Clean interesting.
"So You Thought Only Fugu Sushi Could Kill You In Japan" or "Pretty Young Blond Things, Please Stay Home"! 😃
I was pleasantly surprised and very disturbed by this story. Japan, with its long history of culture and civilization, never struck me as a country that would have a diabolical sadist serial killer. I hung onto every word. It is a true thriller.
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