• People Who Eat Darkness

  • The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo - and the Evil That Swallowed Her Up
  • By: Richard Lloyd Parry
  • Narrated by: Simon Vance
  • Length: 13 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: Biographies & Memoirs, True Crime
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (2,669 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

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.

Critic Reviews

“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)

Editor's Pick

In Cold Blood with a Tokyo setting
"This book draws you in with a creepy cover and creepier title, but it’s also one of the best true crime titles ever written. Tokyo-based reporter Richard Lloyd Parry covered the disappearance of Lucie Blackman, a young British woman working as a hostess in the city, in real time. His commitment to representing her full humanity is matched only by his dogged examination of every angle of the case, from the timeline and procedural details to Japan’s complicated female-companionship industry. If that sounds dry, it isn’t: The villain is as wicked as they come, and Simon Vance’s narration is, true to form, flawless."
Kat J., Audible Editor

What listeners say about People Who Eat Darkness

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The best audiobook I have ever heard -- hands down

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

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.

61 people found this helpful

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This is the audiobook against I rate all others.

What did you love best about People Who Eat Darkness?

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.

78 people found this helpful

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Instantly engrossing.

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.

36 people found this helpful

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Riveting True Crime That Has More Depth Than You'd

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.

38 people found this helpful

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Gripping Investigative Look at Human Darkness

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.

54 people found this helpful

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Evil thrives on ignorance

If you could sum up People Who Eat Darkness in three words, what would they be?

Chilling.
Infuriating
Sad.

What other book might you compare People Who Eat Darkness to and why?

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.

Which scene was your favorite?

When they finally arrested this savage lunatic

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

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"

Any additional comments?

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?

26 people found this helpful

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Did the Trick

Nothing has been holding my attention lately, but this absolutely did!

Richard Parry lived the case of Lucie Blackman, a young British woman who was killed while working as a hostess in Tokyo (and no, that doesn't mean hooker, who knew..) Parry was a journalist based in Japan. He explores the exotic Rappongi district (red light district) of Tokyo and the different club cultures, the foreign girls who work there and their customers--mostly Japanese salary men, and one serial rapist and killer who ended Lucie's life. He also handles the pain and trauma of Lucie's family delicately. He doesn't pretend they're saints, but he refuses to judge when he hasn't walked a mile in their shoes.

One of the best that I've heard in this genre. Recommend.

11 people found this helpful

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Overwritten and Obnoxious

"Meandering" doesn't even come close to describing this book. I finished it, but only because it became kind of a personal mission to do so. (I had to take week-long breaks between listens.) I feel like this book could have been 3 hours shorter than it was, and the voice of the reader was like a spike in my ear by the end. In my humble opinion--it was about as bad as a book can get.

13 people found this helpful

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creepy non ficition

If you could sum up People Who Eat Darkness in three words, what would they be?

Dark. Disturbing. Compelling.

What was one of the most memorable moments of People Who Eat Darkness?

The entire book is memorable.

If you could give People Who Eat Darkness a new subtitle, what would it be?

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.

Any additional comments?

Best true crime novel I've "read" in ages. The narration is spot-on.

12 people found this helpful

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I expected this book to be written by a cop

and instead it was written by Shakespeare. I couldn't put it down. now let's see what else this guy has written

2 people found this helpful