Lead Review

  • Book: The Silent Dead
  • Location: Tokyo
  • Author: Tetsuya Honda

Review Author: tripfiction



The Silent Dead is not for the faint-hearted. It is Tokyo noir at its best… and most gruesome.

IMG_3875A series of twelve quite mind bogglingly evil and brutal murders threatens to confound the police. The investigation is led by Reiko Himekawa, an unusually young (and female) Lieutenant in the murder squad of Tokyo City Police. She has very little to go on… possibly a connection to the second Sunday evening of the month, and possibly a dark web reference to ‘Strawberry Night’. She, herself, was a rape victim when young – and the experience still haunts her. She is a very tough and insightful detective – who proceeds as much on ‘instinct’ as hard evidence. She is quite definitely a woman in a man’s world – and she suffers sexual harassment (and harassment in general) as she goes about her duties. The loyal team she leads is blatantly set up to compete with another fronted by the less than honest Lieutenant Kensaku Katsumata – and one of the key sub plots of The Silent Dead is the competition between them as they explore the murky existence of the Tokyo underworld and its inhabitants.

In parallel with the main story of the investigation, Honda also tracks back (one chapter in four…) to the very disturbed life of a young girl who was abused by her stepfather and eventually burnt him to death in the family home, before ending up in and out of psychiatric institutions. You will not be surprised to hear that the two stories eventually come together…

For TripFiction readers this is locationally a great book. Very much set in Tokyo with good descriptions of many different areas (some less desirable to visit than others…). The Silent Dead sold over 4m copies in Japan alone and is the first in a series of five novels featuring Reiko Himekawa. It is also the first to be translated into English and is published simultaneously in the UK and the US.

As I said at the beginning, The Silent Dead is not for the faint hearted. It was for me a fascinating book (not least because I know Tokyo reasonably well…) but it is also extremely gruesome and very bloody. With that not insignificant proviso, I recommend it.

This review first appeared on our blog, where we chat to the translator Giles Murray: https://www.tripfiction.com/thriller-set-in-tokyo/

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