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Tokyo Year Zero Paperback – August 12, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
You will not get a feeling about being comfortable knowing what's going on. Wheels within wheels, the police at all levels work clandestinely with the criminal gangs, and the police at all levels often seem to be working at cross-purposes to each other. Only the top-level police have access to automobiles, and it is odd to see the day starting with the sergeant barking "Bow!" and everyone bows deeply to their superiors.
When you finish the book, there's no sense of satisfaction--but this dark and disturbing work makes you feel as if you've been given a glimpse of hell--rather like Dante's Inferno. If you want a good, more conventional Japanese police novel, try Matsumoto's Points and Lines. If you want the classic police procedural, try Freeman Wills Croft's series. Tokyo Year Zero is unconventional, unsettling, and harrowing--and effective.
Police Detective Minami leads the official investigation into the homicides. As he struggles with a drug addiction that helps him forget his ignominious past during the Chinese Occupation, Minami owes his allegiance to a drug lord who feeds his habit. Still he wants to solve this particular brutal case so in spite of a lack of running water, he is out seeking clues amidst the ruins of the city; that is when he is not with his mistress. When more dead females surface; each raped before being strangled, Minami knows he must concentrate on uncovering the identity of a serial killer even if he believes the victims deserve what they get as these prostitutes know the risk of picking up a customer.
TOKYO YEAR ZERO is going to be considered one of the best historical police procedural of the year. The investigation is top rate and the depressing Minami is a fascinating lead character who readers will dislike once they learn he ignores his starving family for his drug needs and his mistress. However, with the American occupation led by the invisible emperor with no clothes and MacArthur occupying a country in ruins with only a thriving black market efficiently run by criminals, Japan especially Tokyo owns this dark whodunit.
Apparently, Mr. Peace in preparing to write his novel took the time, as any good author should, to read what others have written about Tokyo. In particular, Tokyo Stories edited by Lawrence Roberts. In that collection of literary short stories about Tokyo you will find on page 122 the short story The Old Part of Town by Hayashi Fumiko. In Hayashi's short story a young woman in the ruins of Tokyo after the war (sound familiar?) is looking for a place to sell her tea which she is peddling to survive. She comes to a place where, as Hayashi describes it, has piles of rusting iron, a shack with a glass door, and a man with a sweat cloth tied on his head. Inside the shack she finds that there is one stool and a postcard tacked to the wall. The man tells her about his wartime experiences in Siberia where he was interned in Mulchi near the Amur Riveer.
Turning now to Tokyo Year Zero, at page 244 Peace writes that Inspector Minami comes to a lot with a huge pile of rusty iron, and a cabin with a glass door. The worker living in the cabin has a handkerchief tied around his head and in the cabin there is a single stool and a postcard tacked to the wall. The man tells Inspector Minami that his son is interned in Siberia at Mulchi on the Amur River.Read more ›
Peace sets all but a few pages of TOKYO YEAR ZERO on the first anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II. This Tokyo is not unlike a Hieronymus Bosch painting, with the Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse --- Pestilence, War, Famine and Death --- running through the streets at will. When the decomposed bodies of two women, raped and strangled, are discovered in a Tokyo park, Detective Minami of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police is assigned to the investigation. It is almost immediately obvious that Minami is half-mad, serving not only the police department but also a local crime lord who has risen to ascendancy as the result of the murder of his mentor. Discerning the identity of the killer/rapist is accomplished through dogged police work; the problem is that the fiend's deeds are not limited to two women or, for that matter, to Tokyo.
Minami's investigation is impeded not only by office politics and jurisdictional squabbles but also by the unofficial inquiry he is making at the behest of the local crime lord, one whose trail leads him back to his own office. At the same time, Minami is balancing duties and a great deal of guilt between his wife and children and his mistress. Meanwhile, Tokyo sinks under the weight of its defeat, the souls of its residents shattered by Japan's defeat and the failure of their beliefs.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I adored the vivid prose and the saturated sense of place the author created, but the repetition of his itchiness, of the tonton'ing hammers, it drove me nuts. Read morePublished 5 months ago by G. Wells
Be warned, "Tokyo Year Zero" is a very demanding read, but equally rewarding if you are prepared to stick at it. Read morePublished 6 months ago by keetmom
This post-modern noir literary crime thriller set in the first year of American occupation of Tokyo features a flawed and compromised but technically proficient detective... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Billy Boy
A hard punchy read but we'll worth the effort. I know Tokyo well and Peace made me taste and smell the occup action and desperation.Published 12 months ago by Christopher J Smith
This book is unusual for its setting (Occupied Japan), its point of view (that of the occupied) and its experimental writing style. The people are hungry. Loss is all around. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Loves the View
If you want something depressing with no answer to your questions and no ultimate point except that humanity sucks, then this is a very literary way to get your fix.Published 18 months ago by Mangohomer
What a great book. A mix of a good murder mystery with a good amount of William Falkner stream of consciousness and Jean Paul Sartre extensionalism.. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Evan
a Brit writer in his late thirties writing in the begining of the XXI century a first person narrative from the point of view of a middle aged Japanese detective who lived in the... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Grigor
I found that the idea of this story of the detective trying to track down a serial killer in post war Tokyo a really interesting one and i had the seeds of being a really enjoyable... Read morePublished on February 1, 2014 by Mr Michael Quinn