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People Who Eat Darkness: The Fate of Lucie Blackman [Hardcover]

Richard Lloyd Parry
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
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Book Description

24 Feb 2011

Lucie Blackman - tall, blonde, and twenty-one years old - stepped out into the vastness of Tokyo in the summer of 2000, and disappeared forever. The following winter, her dismembered remains were found buried in a seaside cave.

The seven months in between had seen a massive search for the missing girl, involving Japanese policemen, British private detectives, Australian dowsers and Lucie's desperate, but bitterly divided, parents. As the case unfolded, it drew the attention of prime ministers and sado-masochists, ambassadors and con-men, and reporters from across the world. Had Lucie been abducted by a religious cult, or snatched by human traffickers? Who was the mysterious man she had gone to meet? And what did her work, as a 'hostess' in the notorious Roppongi district of Tokyo, really involve?

Richard Lloyd Parry, an award-winning foreign correspondent, has followed the case since Lucie's disappearance. Over the course of a decade, he has travelled to four continents to interview those caught up in the story, fought off a legal attack in the Japanese courts, and worked undercover as a barman in a Roppongi strip club. He has talked exhaustively to Lucie's friends and family and won unique access to the Japanese detectives who investigated the case. And he has delved into the mind and background of the man accused of the crime - Joji Obara, described by the judge as 'unprecedented and extremely evil'.

With the finesse of a novelist, he reveals the astonishing truth about Lucie and her fate. People Who Eat Darkness is, by turns, a non-fiction thriller, a courtroom drama and the biography of both a victim and a killer. It is the story of a young woman who fell prey to unspeakabale evil, and of a loving family torn apart by grief. And it is a fascinating insight into one of the world's most baffling and mysterious societies, a light shone into dark corners of Japan that the rest of the world has never glimpsed before.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 403 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape; 1st edition (24 Feb 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224079174
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224079174
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 148,158 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Lloyd Parry is an author and foreign correspondent, and the Asia Editor of The Times. He was born in Southport, Merseyside in 1969, and educated at Oxford University. Since 1995 has lived in Tokyo, working first for The Independent and now The Times. 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 (Cape 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.

Product Description



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)

"This is In Cold Blood for our times - in calm, mesmeric, unshrinking prose, Richard Lloyd Parry investigates an unbearable, pitiless crime with an eye to the bigger story it tells us about the age we are living through - an age haunted by its own inner darkness; by a dread of the monsters that move undetected amongst us. The masterful rendering of a decade of painstaking research, the pages turn themselves, and on each page the reader learns an urgent truth they may wish they had remained blind to. A masterpiece of writing this surely is, but it is more than that - it is a committed, compassionate, courageous act of journalism that changes the way we think. Everyone who has ever loved someone and held that life dear should read this stunning book, and shiver." (Chris Cleave)

"'An extraordinary book, passionately and meticulously told, and memorable too for its intelligent refusal to judge, and its genuine compassion for every single character. But Lloyd Parry's real genius is to take you straight to the grim black heart of the crime at the centre of this unbearable family tragedy. I read it with my breath held and found I couldn't relax, think or get on with my life until I'd finished it.'" (Julie Myerson)

Book Description

An incisive and compelling account of the case of Lucie Blackman

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary piece of true crime reportage 20 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have almost finished this book but I couldn't wait any longer to share my thoughts on it. As an aficionado of true crime I am always looking for something that stands out from the hordes of sordid and ploddingly told tales that emerge with predictable regularity. People Who Eat Darkness is definitely a cut above and will likely enter the pantheon of greats such as In Cold Blood, The Executioner's Song, Helter Skelter, The Onion Field and the like.

Not only is the setting highly unusual and vividly depicted, but the villain of the piece is equally fascinating. However, the real pleasure comes from Mr Parry's exquisite attention to detail and professional approach to telling this tale. I don't think people can quite appreciate the work involved in writing these books. Everyone who comes into contact with this story will be affected, but for Mr Parry - who clearly cared deeply about the case and its principals - to have devoted so much time and effort in order to capture every little nuance and detail, must have left deep psychological scars. The Nietzschean quote: 'When you look into the abyss, it also looks into you', comes to mind.

Of course, the story itself is absolutely devastating and stands as a savage indictment of the Tokyo police department, who clearly don't see things in the same light as most reasonable people. The Japanese justice system in general will strike Western readers as quite bizarre. I feel very deep sympathy for the family who had to endure such frustration at the hands of these uncaring officials, who seem to value their own precious dignity above everything else. This is the kind of book I would usually thrust on other people to read but I have learned from long experience that not everyone enjoys such dark subject matter. That is their loss.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars True crime for non-true crime readers 29 Aug 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book was both gripping and harrowing - I had to stop reading it right before I went to bed it so unnerved me at points. Really thoroughly researched, great writing and empathetic treatment of a very complex family situation. I don't normally read true crime but I'd heard so many good things about this book that I am very glad I made an exception. Wholeheartedly recommended.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Reportage 11 Oct 2011
I enjoyed reading this book immensely, although it addresses a truly depressing subject. I've been reading the other Amazon reviews, and I am struck by how polarised readers' reactions to the book seem to have been. Two of the reviewers accuse Mr Parry of gross inaccuracies, but, as far as I can understand, they are objecting to his portrayal of a protagonist's character, hardly something that can be done "accurately" as the process is of necessity impressionistic. It would be safer, I suggest, to argue that one may have formed a different impression; it certainly seems an unwarranted leap to say that the book is grossly inaccurate in general. One of the reviewers claims that Mr Parry's admitted obsession with the Blackman case precludes him from being able to be objective about it, but this is clearly a false premise: if obsession were necessarily a bar to objectivity, we wouldn't have half of our greatest scientific discoveries.

I felt that the book was, in general, an honest attempt to account for an awful crime, describing a Japan that I recognise all too clearly (although I must disclose that I have never lived in Tokyo and know none of the people in the book; I have lived in Japan for nearly 25 years and am certainly familiar with Roppongi), and I was especially struck by the palpable effort Mr Parry made to be fair to everyone. If he failed with a minor individual I do not think that should put one off the book as a whole.

I would also add that I find his analysis of what "went wrong", as it were, with the prosecution, entirely convincing, and again, as a judgement, very fair.

I would not hesitate to recommend this book to anyone interested in a solid account of the Blackman killing and its aftermath.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars true review 9 Jun 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Covering a very sad event it widened your perspective by giving descriptions and details of relationships, helping you to understand more about the family. It also opened your eyes to the complexities of the Japanese police and the law.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
By jem
I read a brilliant review of this book in the Daily Mail on Friday and downloaded a digital version, on its strength.

This is an incredibly well researched account of the disappearance, investigation and trial, relating to the murder of Lucie Blackman. But its is also so much more than that. The author was based in Tokyo during the investigation and trial of the alleged perpetrator, so not only had a first hand view of the events surrounding the Police inquiry, but also paints a vivid picture of Japanese culture and their legal system - which is very different from our own.

Richard Lloyd Parry became acquainted with the Blackman family, and observed them as they dealt with their own grief, and tried to pick a way out of their terrible sadness. Lucie's parents were already divorced by the time of her disappearance, the tragedy in which they all found themselves, just drove them further apart. I thinks this book offers a great insight into human nature, how we as human beings react to loss and pain. The author does his job so well in standing back and not passing judgment as he tells the personal, family story. I felt slightly wrong, almost guilty in reading this book, looking so closely into a family and their unremitting sadness, for my 'entertainment'. But Parry does an awesome job in seeking to understand the family and their individual actions. If all you know of this case is 'blonde hostess disappears in seedy Tokyo;' and 'Father takes blood money,' read the book. It challenges the
snap judgments that we are steered toward by tabloid headlines. I think the underlying message is, things aren't black and white - don't judge until you've been there - and really pray that you never are 'there'.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 day ago by sean jones
3.0 out of 5 stars boring and longwinded
according to relative, boring and longwinded. But they always complain
Published 19 days ago by Maia
5.0 out of 5 stars Take a dark and twisted journey into a cavernous nightmare
This book is AMAZING. The story is so bizarre and complex and continually throughout shivers ran up my spine. Read more
Published 19 days ago by ROGUE MALE
5.0 out of 5 stars very good read, again i could not put this down
very good read, again i could not put this down, a very sad end to the story, but it really hits home what can happen
Published 21 days ago by m.c. hullah
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Harrowing, compelling, educational, gripping, heartbreaking. One of the best true crime books I have ever read (and I have read many). Read more
Published 2 months ago by M
3.0 out of 5 stars Japanese conundrums
A fascinating read but I felt it would have benfited from some editing as the author wish to be thorough meant he rambled a bit in places (which I skipped). Read more
Published 9 months ago by Jim T
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read
A brilliant book from beginning to end. A true crime thriller - a book I haven't been able to put down!
Published 16 months ago by charlotte gruen
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much blurb
I was very keen to read this book but was a little disappointed. The story itself is fine but it is the other blurb and discussions about the extended family and the bitterness... Read more
Published 16 months ago by dc61
4.0 out of 5 stars great book
great book living up to my execptations. It arrived at the correct time, so i cant complain, just love it.
Published 16 months ago by Michael Johansen
5.0 out of 5 stars superb!
Lucie Blackman arrived in Japan 49 days before I did. She 'disappeared' a week after I arrived. I lived in Japan for 11 years and the mystery of the Lucie Blackman case both... Read more
Published 19 months ago by seanila
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