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PREFECTURE D

FOUR NOVELLAS

There’s more politics than mayhem here, but fans of hard-boiled fiction will enjoy seeing how Japanese cop shops work.

Linked novellas from the dean of Japanese noir.

Yokoyama knows his way around a police station, as these linked novellas, reminiscent of Janwillem van de Wetering’s Amsterdam Cops series, suggest. Yet a Japanese police station is a place that’s thoroughly politicized and bureaucratic. A constant presence in each of the stories is a personnel director named Shinji Futawatari, whom everyone fears because he has unusually broad powers to reassign people to different jobs, elevating some and demoting others. “Fortunately,” writes Yokoyama, “it was a particular strength of Personnel to nurture posts that were both impenetrable and obscure, enabling transfers that were recognizable from the inside as punitive yet justifiable to the outside as existing to 'strengthen Department X or Y.' ” Futawatari’s life is made miserable by a 42-year veteran detective who refuses to be shuffled from his post for reasons that, a detective ventures, have something to do with “all that other shit.” The veteran cop, who could teach Bartleby the Scrivener a thing or two, won’t talk about it or consider a transfer, leaving Futawatari frustrated and powerless. In the next story, Futawatari—who’d been named a superintendent at the age of 40 and is nicknamed the “ace,” not for his skills but as “a reference to the trump card he held”—is a peripheral player in a cat-and-mouse game in which an anonymous cop is blackmailing a senior officer. The same threat plays in the fourth story, with a politician threatening to expose another top cop, sending the prefecture scrambling to dig up dirt. When Masaki Tsuge, who works in the Prefectural Police Headquarters, pleads on his boss’s behalf, the politico answers, smugly, “If you’re this good at kowtowing, you might want to consider running for election.” The story that precedes it is the most elusive, in which a promising woman sergeant in a deeply sexist enterprise—as Yokoyama writes, “Questions of gender aside, she was exactly the type of officer the force needed”—simply disappears from her station one day.

There’s more politics than mayhem here, but fans of hard-boiled fiction will enjoy seeing how Japanese cop shops work.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-23704-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: MCD/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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HOME IS WHERE THE BODIES ARE

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

Three siblings on very different paths learn that their family home may be haunted by secrets.

Eldest daughter Beth is alone with her fading mother as she takes her final breath and says something about Beth’s long-departed brother and sister, who may not have disappeared forever. Beth is still reeling from the loss of her mother when her estranged siblings show up. Michael, the youngest, hasn’t been home since their father’s disappearance seven years ago. In the meantime, he’s outgrown his siblings, trading his share of the family troubles for a high-paying job in San Jose. Nicole, the middle child, has been overpowered by addiction and prioritized tuning out reality over any sense of responsibility, much to Beth’s disgust. Though their mother’s death marks an ending for the family, it’s also a beginning, as the three siblings realize when they find a disturbing videotape among their parents’ belongings. The video, from 1999, sheds suspicion on their father’s disappearance, linking it to a long-unsolved neighborhood mystery. Was it just a series of unfortunate circumstances that broke the family apart, or does something more sinister underlie the sadness they’ve all found in life? In chapters that rotate among the family’s first-person narratives, the siblings take turns digging up stories and secrets in their search for solace.

Answers are hard to come by in this twisting tale designed to trick and delight.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9798212182843

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Blackstone

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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THEN SHE WAS GONE

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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