Lead Review (Point Zero)

  • Book: Point Zero
  • Location: Kanazawa, Tokyo
  • Author: Louise Heal Kawai (Translator), Seicho Matsumoto

Review Author: tripfiction



This novel is set in 1958 and has a real sense of the period. Teiko and Kenichi have come together to be married through the services of a matchmaker and each knows little of their partner. They are not deterred and after their short honeymoon, Kenichi heads up to Kanazawa to hand over his work to a successor, Mr Honda.

A postcard arrives announcing the date of his return to Tokyo but the date comes and goes and there is no sign of him. At first Teiko isn’t overly alarmed but as the time passes, she begins to worry. She takes herself off to Kanazawa to see if she can track him down, but there is little information available. The police are involved but they have little to go on. A body turns up at a remote bay and she heads out to identify the corpse, but it isn’t her husband. Given she doesn’t really know him, or have much experience of a life together, she is at a loss to understand what has happened. She has the full support of Kenichi’s brother and her sister-in-law. And then, a murder victim is discovered….

Her mother delves into the particulars that the matchmaker has shared and discovers that, in the past, Kenichi was a a policeman, an utter shock to her. Sightings of a woman arouse suspicion and soon she is delving into a past that involves the pan-pan girls, women who worked as comfort girls for American GIs after the war. Someone somewhere has something to hide.

This is gentle yet robust storytelling and it has been a delight to discover this author. His prose is beautifully brought to life in the translation and it is an immersive read, with a light touch.

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