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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 6 May 2009
I've given Mo Hayder some stick. Her first book Birdman was great if unsettling by the gore, her second The treatment was horrifying and upsetting and in my opinion well into the depths of unacceptable thriller writing in terms of plot, but this is bang on the money.
It did take me over 2 weeks to finish it mind, it doesnt hook you immediately. There is a parallel tale of the past running all the way through the book that i found a little irksome, but the present day action is very well written. The seedy underworld of Tokyo is described brilliantly and the creepy Yakuza gang and especially "The nurse" are all creepy as hell.
Mo does give us again a very damaged central character and obvisouly sex is a big part of her story. This seems to be a constant thread of her books - damaged sexual storyline and in this book it is acceptably written - by that i mean, it isnt as raw or upsetting as her previous books.
Once you are over a quater of the way in, it hooks you and i finished the rest in a day - you need to persist with it as it is a great thriller.
I read this last - ive just finished Ritual and Skin and i thought they wer both shockingly bad. Dont know what happened to her, she seemed to explode on the scene with the rawness of her tales - upset a lof of people with her storylines, then dampened it down with Tokyo (her best novel) and then recently with Skin and Ritual, its just all so confused... I havent even finished Skin as its so poor.
But this is a great read - lets hops she can reporoduce this excellent scale of storytelling again!
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on 5 June 2017
The ending was disappointing
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on 22 June 2017
very poor book not up to mo hayder if this had been my frist book by MO would not have read any more
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on 14 June 2017
As expected
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on 8 August 2014
Not Mo Heyder's usual style. I found this very heavy going,especially with all the Chinese names etc. I really tried but gave up about half way through. Pity as Mo Heyder is one of my favourite authors
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on 26 June 2010
A young woman who has a very murky past comes to Tokyo looking for proof that she is not mad. An old man who escaped the massacre of Nanking cannot escape from his memories. The two, come together, in order to find the answers they need.

Mo Hayder improves further with her third novel. Unlike 'Birdman' which wallowed in violence and torture, 'Tokyo' instead opts for leaving all the graphic detail to the reader's imagination. It's effective and makes the villains far more frightening.

The passages about Nanking are excellent and would have made a good novel on their own. The heroine is difficult to like, possibly because her real motivations aren't revealed until the end, by then I can see some readers may have given up. However, the ending is poignant and works.

Some of the plot is very predictable, but Hayder writes about what it's like to be in a strange country with perhaps even stranger people convincingly.

Worth taking a look at.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 January 2005
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. There is a wise and compassionate maturity to this third book (that wasn't necessary in The Treatment), and there are some passages, especially in the later parts, that are so moving and affecting that they demand to be read over again. The book as a whole explores the line between ignorance and evil, and often demonstrates that the things we need to maintain our hold on life are not always the things best for us. Explored too is the nature of the relationship between the past and present, the circles that exist within history, spinning through time like fractals, repeating and repeating and repeating.
This is partly achieved by the way the two separate experiences - Grey's life in 90's Tokyo, and Chongming's diaries - toy with one another, connecting then bouncing off, reflecting then informing the other. In the end, the two strands mesh together in a conclusion that is possibly the most emotionally shattering I've read since that of her last book.
There are a couple of things that should also be commented on. Firstly, there is her excellent portrait of Tokyo, caught between two cultures, feeding off both in bizarre ways - huge posters of old American movie stars adorn the buildings; the manager of the club where Grey works has had surgery to look like Marilyn Monroe. It is a bizarre, surreal and yet perversely seductive city.
The second is the character of Grey. A "weirdo", as she is constantly referred to by one of the characters, there are oblique and teasing reference to a "hospital" and "nurses", which eventually become darkly, disturbingly clear. Psychologically damaged in ways we at first cannot comprehend, she is a fascinating, rather haunting narrator, one of the marvels of this book. There is no doubt that she is the true dark heart of the piece. Simultaneously strong yet vulnerable, knowing and yet naïve, her character is where this novel's devastatingly sharp edge lies.
Tokyo, a book in which the extensive and informative research always adds and is never intrusive, is an excellent new thriller, so haunting that, over a year later, I still find that splinters of it are still caught in my mind.
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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. The author's ability to present both internal action and external terror is admirable, creating both tension and heart-stopping suspense, though she does resort to obvious foreshadowing to keep the reader going: "I knew that the answer I wanted was very nearby," for example, and "I was sure, without knowing why, that just behind those blinds...."
The plot and characters are intriguing for the first two-thirds of the book. Then, as the exact nature of Grey's quest on behalf of Shi Chongming becomes clearer, the plot veers into stomach-turning sadism and perversion. Sensational deaths and ankle-deep gore increase as Grey's shocking "crime," Fuyuki's pathology, and Shi Chongming's "sin" come together in dramatic fashion. Not for the faint of heart, this pop novel is nightmare-inducing, filled with pathological behavior and grotesque deaths, minutely described. (3.5 stars). Mary Whipple
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on 8 April 2011
When I began reading the book, I knew there would be a twist to the story relating back in history. The main character, Grey Hutchins had an interesting childhood, which is explained in detail bit by bit as the story develops.
Although some people may find the story disturbing, it was a little haunting however I do agree with the comment made by the author Michael Connelly that it sticks with you well after the final page is turned.
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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. But what I enjoyed most was Hayder's skill at leaving the worst atrocities unwritten, at implication rather than description, at leaving the reader to imagine some of the events which, as we know, is invariably more horrifying than actually knowing. One of the scariest characters in TOKYO is a `person' with a variety of noms-de-plume including The Nurse and The Beast of Saitama - and trust me when I suggest that The Nurse makes Luca Brazzi seem like your fairy godmother in comparison. That's one of the enduring memories of the book for me, the fact that some of the `events' were never explicitly described so you are left to complete them in your own mind, and this uncertainty makes them even more horrific than they would have been had they been explained in full by the writer. Delicious, old-fashioned and how it should be done in my humble opinion.

TOKYO is chilling, haunting, gritty yet lyrical, stylish and suspenseful, very moving and thought-provoking but ultimately it is a real treat to be entertained in this way with the reader having to fill in some of the crucial gaps and being more emotionally disturbed as a consequence. A thriller of the highest order and one that you should add to your `must read' list without a doubt.
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