Book Title: Blue Light Yokohama
Author: Nicolas Obregon
Series: Inspector Iwata #1
Genres: Crime Fiction, Suspense, Thriller, Mystery, Police Procedural
Date Read: 02/16/17
Pub Date: 03/07/17
Newly reinstated to the Homicide Division and transferred to a precinct in Tokyo, Inspector Iwata is facing superiors who don’t want him there and is assigned a recalcitrant partner, Noriko Sakai, who’d rather work with anyone else. After the previous detective working the case killed himself, Iwata and Sakai are assigned to investigate the slaughter of an entire family, a brutal murder with no clear motive or killer. At the crime scene, they find puzzling ritualistic details. Black smudges. A strange incense smell. And a symbol—a large black sun. Iwata doesn’t know what the symbol means but he knows what the killer means by it: I am here. I am not finished.
As Iwata investigates, it becomes clear that these murders by the Black Sun Killer are not the first, nor the last attached to that symbol. As he tries to track down the history of black sun symbol, puzzle out the motive for the crime, and connect this to other murders, Iwata finds himself racing another clock—the superiors who are trying to have him removed for good.
This was a strong 4 stars for me. While it’s a slow burn, the writing is gorgeous and full bodied; I’ve never seen such horrific content described quite so beautifully. I think this is a series that will only grow stronger as it continues and I can’t wait to see where it goes. When I first was contacted about reading this one, I was in the middle of a hunt for more crime fiction featuring various cultures around the world. When I saw this book was prominently featuring Japanese culture, something I’m very unfamiliar with, I knew I had to get my hands on it.
“The lights of the city are so pretty Yokohama,
Blue Light Yokohama
I’m happy with you
Please let me hear Yokohama
Blue Light Yokohama
Those words of love from you”
-My Goodreads friend Maureen also used this quote from the book; just wanted to give her credit for using it first in a fantastic review!
The cool thing about this story, and what sets it apart from the dime a dozen other crime thrillers vying for our attention, is the tiny, unique details that create the big picture. I love how a simple song is used to create something so haunting and monstrous to tear our main character apart. The lead investigator, Inspector Iwata, is flawed and reeling from a recent personal tragedy that the reader is made aware of the details as the book continues. As I stated above, this book may not be appealing to those of a more sensitive nature; the subject matter is graphic and horrifying as it contains the slaughter of an entire family, thus leading us down the path of a dangerous series of murders that seem to be connected. However, if you choose to read this one and like books with these factors (as I clearly do), you’ll not find another novel that tells it’s story with such care and beauty; the writing style and quality are both excellent. Obregon has crafted a tale that we cannot look away from, nor would we want to if we could.
I was pleasantly surprised by the grand finale; I had not pieced together the ending and found that the many red herrings, twists, and turns were placed in a way that made the most of every opportunity. Fans of noir, foreign crime fiction, and well done police procedurals should poach this for their TBR pile. This was not the type of book you pick up to race through for sheer entertainment, but one that you savor and take in piece by piece as a learning experience. I’m pleased to say that I’m looking forward to the author’s next piece in the series and truly can’t wait to see where he takes Iwata.
*Many thanks to Martin at Minotaur Books for my copy; it was a pleasure to provide and honest review.