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People Who Eat Darkness: The Fate of Lucie Blackman Hardcover – International Edition, March 7, 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape (March 7, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224079174
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224079174
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #306,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"People Who Eat Darkness is an extraordinary, compulsive and brilliant book. The account of the crime, the investigation and the trial -- particularly in its knowledge and understanding of the Japan in which this tragedy took place -- is both insightful and gripping; the attempt to understand Obara is fascinating but never ghoulish; and finally, and most of all, the compassion for Lucie Blackman and her family is very, very moving."
—David Peace

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About the Author

RICHARD LLOYD PARRY, an award-winning foreign correspondent, is the Asia editor of The Times, based in Tokyo.

More About the Author

Richard Lloyd Parry is a British author and award-winning foreign correspondent. He was born in northern England in 1969, and educated at Oxford University. Since 1995 has lived in Tokyo, where he is the Asia Editor of 'The Times' of London. He has reported from twenty-seven countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo and Macedonia. In recent years, he has covered the war in Iraq, the crisis in North Korea, political turmoil in Thailand and Burma, and the tsunami and nuclear disasters in Japan. In 2005, he was named Foreign Correspondent of the Year in the UK's What The Papers Say Awards.

He has also contributed to the London Review of Books, Granta and the New York Times Magazine. His books include In the Time of Madness (Grove 2005), an account of the violence in Indonesia in the late 1990s. People Who Eat Darkness: The Fate of Lucie Blackman, published in February 2011, was longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Ian C. Ruxton on January 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have met the author a couple of times and lived in western Japan since 1988, i.e. throughout the period of the Lucie Blackman case. Until now I have frankly steered clear of this book, feeling it would be far too gruesome and unpleasant, let alone close to home, for comfort. I was therefore pleasantly surprised that the book is highly readable and by no means unbearable in its details, grisly though some of them are.

Richard Lloyd Parry has given us several things, including (but not limited to) the following: first, an image of Tokyo and life there for young expats which more or less conforms to what I had imagined as an 'outsider' who has only visited the Big Smoke occasionally and Roppongi only once; second, insights into the life and history of Zainichi Koreans from which group Obara came; third, a portrait of a typically dysfunctional British family marred by a divorce and the effects thereof; fourth, a sketch of the Japanese police which is critical of the organisation's procedures and inability to deal with rare cases but quite complimentary of individual officers; fifth, a window onto Japanese legal and court proceedings, lengthy, flawed and tedious as they are; sixth, detailed biographical portraits of Lucie and Obara, and many others, and some autobiography too as the author was caught up in the case and even sued for libel by Obara at one point.

The writing style is colourful and pacy, but also lucid and transparent. The analysis is penetrating and thoughtful, and carefully supported by detailed annotations. I particularly appreciated the refusal to rush to judgement over how any of the players in this tragedy had reacted to Lucie's premature death, in particular Tim Blackman's accepting the 100 million yen from Obara which did not affect the final verdict as to the latter's guilt. In the end the reader must draw his own conclusions about that, and about the whole bizarre case.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By AlexisF on March 23, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm not usually a non-fiction fan, but I was completely engrossed in this book. Parry strikes the right balance by giving enough background information about the characters and events, and keeping the story moving at a good pace. His descriptions of, and investigations into Lucie, her family, her killer, the hostess community, and Japan itself are detailed and intriguing. His writing is heavily backed by research, interviews, diaries, and related books and newspaper articles, and this removes the sensationalist feeling that I think a lot of these books have. This feels like an honest account of what happened, but from many different points of view - the result being that that each different viewpoint paints a slightly skewed picture of the events, and the reader (and author) is left wondering who is telling the truth. According to Parry, the Japanese culture focuses largely on motive in these situations, and motive is something that Parry also chooses to explore in detail for all of the characters - not just the killer. However, the motivations of another person are, by definition, impossible for anyone other than that person to truly know - a strong point of the book is that Parry resists the compulsion to give the reader what he believes are the answers, instead presenting the relevant information to enable the reader to draw their own conclusions. If you are a fan of intelligent murder mysteries, court room dramas, psychological thrillers, family dramas, or cautionary travel tales, then you will definitely enjoy this book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By jessicat1511 on August 12, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I stumbled across this book accidentally. I am going to Japan at the end of the year and thought it would be good to read a real story of another traveller and their local experience. I didn't read the whole blurb so was a shocked when I realised what the story was actually about, and despite how it might not be the best story to read a story like this before travelling there, I was already so intrigued that I had to keep going.

It really was a heart-wrenching story and it really made me feel for the family and close friends of Lucie. Rather than bringing them together in their grief, it tore apart their already fragile relationship even more.
I got the feeling that the author took the side of the father, but he did a really good job in still presenting all the sides fairly.
I can't even begin to imagine how myself or my family would react to a situation like this so dare not comment on how they seemed to deal with it.

It was also interesting to see how the 'justice system' works in other countries and how it differs to here in Australia. I find it so hard to believe that someone can commit crimes like this and still continue to adamantly deny they did anything wrong, it would be interesting to see how Joji Obara feels at the end of his life sentence.

This book is a must read for young women, especially those who like to travel.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Elisabeth Altieri on July 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
So great to read investigative journalism where there's really been professional investigation. Also delineates the puzzling disconnect between cultures regarding women who work as paid "bar girls". What exactly do you call this kind of work? It isn't prostitution so what is it? Is it dangerous? Is it exploitative? Are the women who do it victims or brave international adventurers? Are they savvy or naive? Does having a contract and being paid for it make it a choice for both parties or a one-sided confidence trick? This practice is certainly not unique to Japan, and was also common in Western countries, including the US and UK, up until around WW2. And yet the young Western women who go to Japan and other countries to be paid to sit or dance with men in bars seem to have fallen into a sort of cultural amnesia regarding why this practice stopped in most Western countries. This book helps explain the latter. The amnesia must be explained by the reader.
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