9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 20 February 2013
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. A powerful and stunning account of a truly memorable crime.
I would just like to add one comment, addressed to the publishers. The type size in this book (Vintage Books paperback) is ridiculously small. I think it is about a size 9. Not only that but it is a serif type (Times New Roman). The book is also full of footnotes, and these are printed at the bottom of the page in I think around a size 6 type. Its also not very well printed, so the effect is of reading dark grey type rather than black. This makes it extremely difficult to read. Type should never be smaller than size 10 if you want reasonable legibility and if it absolutely has to be smaller, then use a sans serif type for crying out loud.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 29 August 2012
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.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 11 October 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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 9 June 2012
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.
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 27 February 2011
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'.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 24 March 2012
Murder whodunnits are not my usual reading, but I got this after being told it was a brilliant insight into Japanese culture. I couldn't put it down. Although it's a whodunnit where you start by knowing whodunnit, it is fascinating to follow the story of lovely Lucie Blackman off to Tokyo to clear her debts as a hostess, flattering and chatting to businessmen who are relaxing after work, in the seedy Casablanca bar. She goes to a lunch date, excited by the promise of a mobile phone, and disappears.
Lloyd Parry follows the false clues, her family's grief, the discovery of other hostesses raped, one killed, and the trial and eventual conviction of her killer, Obara, a process which takes the bungling police and courts a mind boggling decade.
He interviews the family who, already fractured, are further damaged by the case. What is really good is Lloyd Parry's lack of moral high ground, his understanding of the father, the mother, sister and brother, and their various actions, and the vicious attitude of the press when the father Tim Blackman did not behave as it thought a grieving father should. The mysterious Obara is like a black hole, unnknowable, sucking in and destroying his victims.
Poor gullible greedy Lucie! The police who are hopelessly slow, pedantic and lacking awareness! I felt I was there.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 18 May 2012
People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry is a sterling effort detailing the infamous Lucie Blackman case.There is a real strong sense of journalism here as Parry details the events that transpired whilst also becoming a kind of tourguide through the streets of Tokyo.
Parry not only investigates the tragedy but explores the attitudes,customs of Japan.At times i could almost feel the streets.
The whole culture of hostess's is explored.
Extremely commendable is how the book creates a portrait of a victim,Lucie Blackman giving her life,an emotional landscape.The case of Lucie Blackman is a multifaceted story of darkness,grief,insecurities,police procedures,anger.....it really contains a lot this book.
I would hesitate in saying i "enjoyed" a book of this nature but it is both very readable and thought provoking.I actually learnt a lot whilst reading.I have to say the whole character of Tim Blackman does leave a funny aftertaste,the acceptance of money from the accussed particularly illiciting negative judgement.
All in all though Parry takes a case and paints a complete picture full of the contradictions and complexities of human nature.At the end of the picture there is a photograph of Lucie Blackman,its very poignant,as a reader you feel a real sense of sadness and loss.Highly recommended.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 4 May 2015
Brilliant read that satisfied both the educational and entertainment elements. Written with feeling and researched thoroughly. Highly recommended!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 June 2014
Harrowing, compelling, educational, gripping, heartbreaking. One of the best true crime books I have ever read (and I have read many). You get a brilliant insight into this side of Japanese culture; the nightlife, the world of the hostess and the sense of foreign alienation.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 10 March 2012
I picked up this book after seeing that it was in loads of critics "Best of 2011" lists and I can certainly see why.
I found myself taking the train to work instead of driving just so I could spend a bit more time with it, and in an evening I'd be looking forward to picking it up again. I rarely do this with books so thats a massive plus from me.
The author has done his research and whilst he obviously ruffles a few feathers (see the 1 star reviews) it seems to me that he paints a balanced picture of most of the main protagonists and doesn't sugar coat facts by overdoing the emotions.
The book really drags you in and I found it brilliant. You seriously won't regret giving it a go.