- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Pegasus Books (August 15, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1605988464
- ISBN-13: 978-1605988467
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,801,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Investigation: A Novel Hardcover – August 15, 2015
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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“Lee’s U.S. debut is a breathtakingly beautiful novel that boasts a cerebral murder mystery and a rare look at the human impact of Japan’s colonialism in Korea. David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars (1994) makes an excellent pairing, providing a contrasting, but also beautifully portrayed, exploration of the impact of Japan’s role in WWII.”
- Booklist (starred review)
“Inspired by the too-brief life of Korean poet-hero Yun Dong-Ju, whose surviving verses are hauntingly interspersed throughout, this work is a magnificent testimony to the profound efficacy of literature and the liberating, life-saving act of reading. If Lee’s stateside debut is any indication of the quality of his other titles, English-language audiences should demand accessibility to more, also made available under the auspices of accomplished translator Kim, one hopes. For literary fiction groupies, thriller seekers, history aficionados, war voyeurs, all, this exquisite, electrifying discovery awaits.”
- Library Journal (starred review)
“A heart-wrenching novel with many unexpected twists.”
- Sunday Times
“What begins as a murder mystery becomes a story of heartbreak, of poetry, of humanity triumphant. It celebrates the power of words, in expressing hope, in giving voice to frustration and longing, in lending strength. Though the work of a prolific Korean author, the prose suffers no awkwardness through translation. It glows. Highly recommended.”
- Historical Novel Society
“This effective, elaborate historical novel is from Lee, a bestseller in his native South Korea. Readers will find Lee's novel to be a satisfying mystery supplemented by rich historical detail.”
- Publishers Weekly
“A deeply touching tribute to the power of art. With stunning language―enhanced by an insightful translation, painfully resonant characters and heart-pounding suspense―Lee crafts a gripping, complex account of literature's ability to transform and unite those it touches. Marvelous. This is a book to savor from beginning to end.”
- Shelf Awareness
“A rollicking good mystery tale. It is also a volume of poetry, with heartbreaking verses of love and loss set against the backdrop of war. The Investigation is nearly impossible to review in a paragraph; even a whole page wouldn’t do it justice. Read it, you’ll understand.”
About the Author
J. M. Lee has sold hundreds of thousands of books in his native Korea. One, Deep Rooted Tree, was made into a popular T.V. series. He is the author of The Investigation, also published by Pegasus Books.
Chi-Young Kim is the celebrated translator of the Man Asian Literary Prize-winning international bestseller Please Look After Mom.
Top customer reviews
Watanabe Yuichi is only 19 and newly assigned to the notorious Fukuoka Prison when he's ordered to undertake the investigation into the slaying of the veteran and war hero Sugiyama Dozan.
Since it had snowed overnight and there were no footprints leading away from the building it was natural to suspect a prisoner--especially since Sugiyama had a reputation for brutalizing prisoners. Anti-Japanese Korean rebels, who made up a good portion of the ward where the murder occurred, had been his favorite victims.
But Watanabe, who grew up devouring books in his mother's shop, soon discovers another side to the violent Sugiyama. According to Yun Dong-ju, a Korean poet, Sugiyama was a complex person, a fellow poet, a lover of music and a man crippled by guilt who sought solace by aiding the prisoners in his own way. Yun and the prime suspects question why they would want to harm a man they feared and respected.
As he delves into the crime he is confused by what he learns about Sugiyama and beguiled by Yun's poetry (which is artistically used as a bridge between narratives) and the man's buoyant outlook on life despite the harsh conditions of his own.
Gradually, through twists and turns that keep the reader turning pages, Watanabe finds himself replacing Sugiyama as protector of the Koreans and is as stunned as we are when he learns the truth about how and why the veteran was murdered.
There actually was a Yun Dong-ju who died at Fukuoka Prison in 1945 and whose poetry is revered throughout Korea. Lee has done an excellent job of evoking the character and the trials of the prisoners and their guards in this first work of his to be translated and published in the U.S.
This novel is so much more than an ordinary mystery and is highly recommended.
This is an eloquent and expressive tale in which the author demonstrates how certain individuals are capable of great and noble deeds while others commit acts of cruelty and sadism. One of the novel's central themes is that exquisite words and music can elevate, inspire, and heal. Watanabe grew up loving classic works of literature. Now that he is stuck in this terrible place, he finds solace in the company of Yun dong-ju, a Korean intellectual whose evocative poems are intensely moving, and Iwanami Midori, a nurse who plays the piano divinely. Even in Fukuoka--where starving inmates are verbally abused, beaten, and forced to perform slave labor--beauty and goodness somehow endure.
Watanabe blames himself for failing to speak out: "I was silent in the face of the insanity. I closed my ears to the screams of the innocent." This sensitive, literate, and basically decent man is determined to bear witness to what occurred during those dark days. "Life may not have a purpose," he says. "But death requires clarity...for the benefit of those who survive." "The Investigation" is a stirring work of fiction and an intriguing mystery that has much to say about the destructive nature of war and the ugliness of racial prejudice. In addition, one of Lee's central characters, the aforementioned Yun Dong-ju, exemplifies the values that most civilized people cherish--a yearning to think and express oneself freely, and a longing to retain one's native language, personal dignity, and cultural identity. Most memorably, J. M. Lee celebrates the power of the human spirit to soar, even in the face of depravity and despair.