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The Devil of Nanking Paperback – 23 Jan 2014

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Product details

  • Paperback: 363 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press / Atlantic Monthly Press; Reprint edition (23 Jan. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802122191
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802122193
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 14 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)

More About the Author

Mo Hayder has written some of the most terrifying crime thrillers you will ever read. Her first novel, Birdman, was hailed as a 'first-class shocker' by the Guardian and her follow-up, The Treatment was voted by the Times one of 'the top ten most scary thrillers ever written'. Mo's books are 100% authentic, drawing on her long research association with several UK police forces and on her personal encounters with criminals and prostitutes. She left school at 15 and has worked as a barmaid, security guard, English teacher, and even a hostess in a Tokyo club.

She has an MA in film making from the American University in Washington DC and an MA in creative writing from Bath Spa University. She now lives in England's West Country and is a full-time writer. For more information on Mo Hayder and her books, see her website at

Product Description

Amazon Review

Tokyo is another of Mo Hayder's deliciously chilling criminal outings, but probably won't produce the frisson of disapproval that such novels as Birdman and The Treatment did. The days are gone when Hayder was identified as one of a cadre of women writers who did something totally unacceptable: produce grisly crime novels quite as unsettling as the products of male imagination. People seem to have finally accepted that the tough crime novel needn't be an exclusively male preserve.

Her troubled female protagonist in Tokyo is Grey, haunting the thronging streets of Tokyo in search of an elusive piece of film recording the infamous Nanking massacre of 1937. But did the film ever exist? The past is a touchy subject for Grey, with incidents in her own life that she has not yet come to terms with. She ill-advisedly becomes a hostess in a nightclub where the clientele is a tad unsavoury (another example of Hayder utilising real-life crime for her plots, with the echoes of a recent murder case). And Grey finds a lead to her quest: a taciturn survivor of the massacre who is now an academic, with no time for the woman pestering him. But Grey makes progress with him--until she encounters a powerful Godfather figure and his violent associates, with a clandestine source for his well-being a much sought-after elixir. Soon, Grey's life becomes two things: very complicated and a place of considerable danger.

The change of locale for Mo Hayder here has ensured that the imaginative energy of her earlier books is consolidated, as is the rejection of the now hackneyed serial killer plot. Atmosphere is brilliantly sustained, set pieces are pulse-racing, and (most satisfying of all) Grey is a truly complex and damaged heroine, the perfect conduit for the reader through this dark world. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Haunting, lyrical, disturbing, important, suspenseful and wonderfully written" (HARLAN COBEN)

"Deeply felt and haunting. Elegiac and important. Most of all it sticks with you well after the final page is turned" (MICHAEL CONNELLY)

"Left me stunned and haunted. This is writing of breathtaking power and poetry" (TESS GERRITSEN)

"The epic thriller of the year" (KARIN SLAUGHTER) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

140 of 142 people found the following review helpful By "acfavrd" on 24 April 2005
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book to add to my other Mo Hayder's. I found it during a search of Amazon a while ago and saw that it was to be published in late April so I ordered it. However, when the book arrived, it transpired that "The Devil of Nanking" is in fact an American version of Mo Hayder's "Tokyo" which has been available in this country for some time.
Despite the fact that "Tokyo" is an excellent book I don't think fans will want to read the same story again under a different title.
Just beware, because the Amazon site does not state anywhere that this is one and the same book and the marketing of the book leads you to believe it is a completely different book!
The most disappointing aspect of all this is that there is no new Mo Hayder available currently, so I'll just have to be patient and wait!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 10 July 2005
Format: Hardcover
A disturbed, young British woman, known only as Grey, arrives in Tokyo after a long hospitalization in a psychiatric unit. She has been hoping for nine years to find a piece of film recording the Nanking Massacre in China by the Japanese in 1937, a massacre of 300,000 people, which the Japanese deny happened. Needing a very specific bit of information that she believes is in the film, Grey contacts Shi Chongming, an elderly Chinese professor at a Japanese university, whom she believes has the missing film. She eventually agrees to try to unearth information he wants about a life-saving medicine used by an ailing Japanese gangster in exchange for information about the Nanking film.
Grey is a fragile and interesting character, bearing both physical and emotional scars, and when she is accepted as a hostess at the "Some Like it Hot" nightclub, run by the unforgettable Strawberry Nakatani, who believes herself a Marilyn Monroe look-alike, she meets the ailing gangster, Junzo Fuyuki. Other intriguing peripheral characters add to the drama: Jason, an American with a pre-occupation with death and a sexual fetish for "weirdos" like Grey; a pair of Russian twins, who are also hostesses; and Ogawa, the transvestite nurse of the gangster, who lurks in the background and acts as an enforcer. The various settings, especially that of a falling-down house occupied by Grey, Jason, and the Russian twins, showcase the bizarre characters and their actions.
The point of view alternates between Grey, as she tries to gain control of her life by finding this mysterious film, and that of Shi Chongming, who recounts in painful detail his memories of the Japanese invasion of Nanking and the attempts that he and his wife Shujing make to to stay alive.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER on 22 Jan. 2005
Format: Paperback
I came to Tokyo straight after reading another first class thriller set in Japan, Susanna Jones's Water Lily. Yet it would be hard to conceive of any two books being more different. All that unites them is their quality and beautiful, poetic style - though even that is vastly different. Water Lily's is spare and delicate, Tokyo's gritty and elegiac. I recommend them both.
Tokyo tells two stories. The first if that of Grey, who has come to the city to seek out an obscure piece of film. It depicts some of the horrific atrocities committed by the Japanese during the 1937 Nanking Massacre. Many people doubt that the film even exists.
She hopes Shi Congming, a visiting professor at the University of Todai, will be able to help her. He is one of the few survivors of the massacre, and one report claims he is actually in possession of the film. However, he is at first unwilling to help her, and sends her away. Chongming's story is the second, told through his harrowing diary extracts written during the events of 1937.
Desperate and alone in a strange city that is caught between the Orient and the seductions of the Occident, Grey finds herself lodgings and takes a job as a hostess (informed by shades of Hayder's own experiences?) in a club that caters for all manner of wealthy Japanese men, including one of the most powerful and feared gangsters in the city.
Tokyo has been three years in the coming. Three long years. I would gladly wait that long again for another book of this quality from Hayder, who is certainly by far the best of the new generation of crime writers.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By OEJ TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 14 May 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
TOKYO is identical in all but title to the more aptly named Devil of Nanking, and for me consolidates Mo Hayder as one of the very best thriller writers around today. Her more mainstream novels Birdman and The Treatment were excellent but this one is even better, despite it being a wholly different kind of story and one which you will probably be thinking about a year or more from now. It's one of those rare occasions when I was yearning to reach the end (to find out what happens) while knowing at all times that I will be a little bit emptier for doing so, because I knew that the chances of my next reading material being as entertaining as this are very slim. What a treat it is to be seduced, mesmerised and teased by the written word! Mo Hayder's is an exceptional talent, her research is comprehensive and convincing, her ability to create a sense of atmosphere a cut above the majority of her peers. I can vouch for at least some of this novel's authenticity as I lived in Tokyo for most of the 1990s myself, so little corporate touches such as Pocky's, Lawson Station and the Maranouchi Line bring back memories of a city that changed my life for the better, even if this tale might lead you to think only of its darker sides.

Although the violence of Hayder's first two books is less graphic here, she manages to build a story once again around a somewhat taboo subject. In her debut novels we had to come to terms with paedophilia and necrophilia, in TOKYO the subject matter is arguably the lowest and most repellent form of human activity; what makes it all the more shocking is that her fictional tale is based on events that supposedly did take place.
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