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Black and macabre thriller set in Tokyo

20th June 2017

Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolás Obregón – black and macabre thriller set in Tokyo (not Yokohama!).

Black and macabre thriller set in TokyoA Korean family of four is brutally murdered in a Tokyo flat. The heart of the father is cut out, and a black sun is painted on the bedroom ceiling. Police Inspector Hideo Akashi investigates, but ends up committing suicide by jumping off Tokyo’s Rainbow Bridge. The Police homicide department is over stretched following Akashi’s death and the high profile murder of prominent actress Ming Fong. The inexperienced Inspector Iwata and Assistant Inspector Sakai are drafted in to take over Akashi’s investigation into the original murders (not, I guess, a top police priority because the victims were ‘only Korean’ – not exactly the most popular race in Japan). Iwata is damaged from being abandoned by his mother when young and being brought up in an orphanage, and Sakai is a feisty young woman. They make an unlikely pairing. The widow of a judge is then murdered in the same way – what is the connection between the judge (or his wife) and the Korean family? Why were they targeted by the ‘Black Sun killer’? Who will be next? And, big question, did Akashi actually commit suicide – or was he too murdered?

Time is of the essence for the detectives to prevent further deaths. Iwata travels alone (and off the radar) to Hong Kong to investigate the alleged suicide of Ming Fong’s sister, Jennifer. He feels that the two cases – Ming Fong’s death and the murders of the Korean family and the judge’s widow – are somehow linked. Iwata and Yoji Yamada of the Cults and Religious Groups Division of Tokyo Police decide they should investigate further the meaning of the Black Sun motive – they head for the country and the long deserted and defunct rural HQ of the ‘Children of the Black Sun’ cult and its charismatic leader Takashi Anzai. They learn a great deal in their race against time…

The denouement, and the two key revelations in it, are well thought through and well executed. I saw neither of them coming. The book reaches an exciting climax.

Blue Light Yokohama is a great debut thriller from Nicolás Obregón. Nicolás was brought up in both Madrid and London, but clearly has a deep fascination for Japan – both from his days as travel writer and from his early childhood watching Japanese cartoons! I have visited Japan many times, and his precise descriptions of Tokyo and life in the city ring very true. The book really does bring Japan to life. His comments on Japanese society are also accurate. Enough has been written about the corruption in the Tokyo police force to alert us to the fact that he is not imagining what he is talking about!

Nicolás has written a great piece in the Guardian “Tokyo is a million cities…. and it’s full of secrets”, which you can access here.

Tony for the TripFiction team

PS: Blue Light Yokohama is actually the title of a song… click to hear it.

You can follow Nicolás on Twitter and via his website

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