Wednesday 9 March 2016

Review: Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama

Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama
Quercus Books
Release date: 3 March 2016
Rating: ****
Back cover blurb: SIX FOUR. THE NIGHTMARE NO PARENT COULD ENDURE. THE CASE NO DETECTIVE COULD SOLVE. THE TWIST NO READER COULD PREDICT. For five days in January 1989, the parents of a seven-year-old Tokyo schoolgirl sat and listened to the demands of their daughter's kidnapper. They would never learn his identity. They would never see their daughter again. For the fourteen years that followed, the Japanese public listened to the police's apologies. They would never forget the botched investigation that became known as 'Six Four'. They would never forgive the authorities their failure. For one week in late 2002, the press officer attached to the police department in question confronted an anomaly in the case. He could never imagine what he would uncover. He would never have looked if he'd known what he would find. 

I first heard about Six Four several months ago, and was keen to read as both a fan of crime fiction and in particular Japanese Crime Fiction. But its not often as a UK blogger that Japanese Crime Fiction comes with hype such as Six Four.

Six Four is a wonderfully translated (by Jonathan Lloyd-Davies) slow burner of a novel. And it's a big novel, at 600 pages, its not going to be everyone's cup of tea. But it was most definitely mine!

the Six Four of the title is a 14 year old unsolved kidnapping/murder enquiry so called because the incident took place in the 64th year of the rule of the Japanese Emperor Showa.

Our protagonist, Mikami is a former Police detective who has been transferred from Criminal Investigations to the Administrative affairs department of the Police department in his prefecture. He now has to deal on a daily basis with media relations and PR rather than 'real detective' work.

For Mikami this means he has to deal with ruthless reporters rather than shady criminals, and for us the reader, this makes for a very different novel to what we might be used to. But Mikami has other issues to deal with besides his job. His own teenage daughter Ayumi is missing, presumed to have run away from home, and this ultimately leads him back into the Six Four enquiry.

Six Four explores Japanese Policing, culture and society wonderfully and I don't want to say too much more about the continuing Six Four/Ayumi story as I don't want to give anything away.

Six Four is a novel that requires the readers utmost concentration, but it is worth it. It carries an intensity that I haven't come across in a novel for a while and is a challenging but very satisfying read. If you are struggling with it, then please persevere, it is worth it I promise.

Six Four is available to buy now from Amazon online and all good book shops.

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 Many thanks to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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