A young Englishwoman obsessed with an indecipherable past, Grey comes to Tokyo seeking a lost piece of film footage of the notorious 1937 Nanking Massacre, footage some say never existed. Only one man can help Grey. A survivor of the massacre, he is now a visiting professor at a university in Tokyo. But he will have nothing to do with her. So Grey accepts a job in an upmarket nightspot, where a certain gangster may be the key to gaining the professor's trust. An old man in a wheelchair surrounded by a terrifying entourage, the gangster is rumored to rely on a mysterious elixir for his continued health.
Taut, gritty, sexy, and harrowing, The Devil of Nanking is an incomparable literary thriller set in one of the world's most fascinating cities-Tokyo-from an internationally best-selling author.
©2005 Mo Hayder; (P)2005 Tantor Media, Inc.
Though this book does not continue the story begun in Birdman and Treatment (that title will be out in early 2006), Hayder's book about a socially disabled and obsessed woman in Japan has her trademark clarity and beautiful ability to bring character and setting to life. Since Hayder was once a hostess in a Japanese club, she certainly knows what she's writing about, and this book is a mystery within a mystery that will keep you wondering what is really going on.
Like Birdman and Treatment, Hayder is able to mesh multiple storylines into one coherent narrative that will keep you from turning off your audible.
Try her out, Hayder is definatly one of Britain's best mystery writers.
I enjoyed this rather strange tale of a young English girl who, when she was even younger, read an account of the Japanese invasion of China, and of the Rape of Nanking in particular. A particularly horrible event stays with her and the people around her think she's daft (and they're not far off the mark). She goes to Japan to search for a film of this horrible event and resolve the inner conflict that was created when she read the account of the incident in Nanking. I don't want to give away the ending, but it is shocking -- even to someone whose jaded modern sensibilities are immune to all manner of illegitimi carborundum. The story is interesting, but I found it hard to get over questions about the protagonist's (i.e., the young lady's) motivation in this story. Her behavior verges toward self-destruction on more than one occasion, and I didn't think she had enough reason to do so. The event was terrible, but it's hard to believe that she built her life around it. I had the impression that the author was trying to create a parallel between the girl and some notion of the Japanese national character. If so, I'm not sure it worked.
The narration (by two narrators) is very good. The male narrator does an excellent version of a Chinese man who speaks English with an accent, but it's extraordinarily authentic.
Overall, though, a good story and it does move along at a good pace, but the details are definitely not for the faint of heart.
This book tries to be both a mystery and a commentary on a barbarous wartime atrocity and, to me, it succeeds on neither score. (If you're interested in the latter, I highly recommend Iris Chang's "Rape of Nanking" instead.) The primary female character is an interesting person, but in a clinical, curious way, never evoking any real empathy for her or her quest. The back story involving the primary male character simply dragged.
As for the narrators, I appreciated their dramatic readings but was appalled at their total mispronunciations of Chinese, which detracted from their credibility and authenticity. Surely the producers could have provided an hour of coaching! One basic example -- "chi" (or perhaps it was spelled "qi," which isn't clear in an audiobook, of course) should be pronounced "chee" but the female reader pronounced it "key." When I think of how a native-speaking reader can transform an audiobook with the nuance, rhythm and intonation of even sparsely scattered foreign words -- just think of "Life of Pi" or "Kite Runner" -- I was sad to think of how rich this audiobook experience COULD have been.
This book is astonishing. Almost a perfect plot. The skill of Mo Hayder as an author shines in this book, you live and breathe the air and hear the sounds and experience fright. I was fascinated well after the book ended. The narrators were remarkable. You will not be disappointed.
Great novel. Explores the cultures of Japan and China, before, during and after World War 2. Brilliantly plotted, the last reveal made me gasp. Intelligent and emotionally strong, If you like thrillers, you won't be disappointed.
I love a good fiction, especially one that makes me want to learn a foreign language just so I can obtain more knowledge about the events mentioned in this book. I have always been fascinated with this era of time, mostly devoting my macabe curiosity to the Nazi cruelty that occured. My father always told me the Nazis were children of devastation compared to the truly barbaric IJA (Imperial Japanese Army). I had no idea! After listening to this book, I did my research of the massacre that occured in Nanking. It was the most horrifying thing I have seen and read. My girlfriend, who is Chinese, knows a little about the occurance, but was not impressed with the cruelty. She went on stating that this type of brutality has been happening for centuries. I disagreed. This was the 20th century, not the 1300's! The age of industrialism and civilization, not the age of cavemen. The acts commited by the IJA were unspeakable and unforgettable. There still has been no acknowledgement or apology for this from Japan.
I am currently listening to a "how to" book learning basic Mandarin Chinese. I would like to visit Nanking and the surrounding areas. Considering all the talk about China becoming a superpower impresses me greatly. We can learn something from them. Thousands of years of religion, peace and war, education, etc.
The Devil of Nanking had an excellent plot with intense characters. I finished the 13 hour audio in 1 day! I recommend it to anyone whom loves a good mystery filled with suspense, tragedy and love.
I enjoyed a previous Mo Hayder book but with this one I couldn't develop any understanding or interest in the main character much as I tried, coming back several times to listen to the book until I couldn't take it anymore.
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