Title / Out
Author / Natsuo Kirino
Publication Date / 1997 (first published)
Star Rating / ★★★
Normally I would start off a review with a Goodreads synopsis, but I am not going to do that this time. I think this is one of those books you should go in blind, without a lot of knowledge about it. I will only say that this is a Japanese crime thriller that is really quite dark and creepy. Due to not wanting to spoil anyone, this is probably going to be quite a short review as there is only so much I can say without referring to plot points. I have been meaning to try out more translated fiction, and I have had this on my shelf for a while now.
As I mentioned earlier, this is a very dark book, as well as being creepy and suspenseful. It is definitely not for the faint hearted – a lot of messed up stuff goes on in this book. I found it to be really quite unsettling at times. The tension is extremely well done, and the build up throughout the book is great. It is very well written and I found it to be engaging throughout. The book starts off strong – finding out about the women and their different positions in society, as well as their differing personalities, is interesting. The social commentary, especially surrounding the place of women in society, was a big part of my enjoyment of this book. I personally find this part of the world fascinating, so I enjoyed learning more about it through this book. It is a look into the length these women will go to for some money, as well as freedom. I have to admit that I was perhaps a little disappointed with the direction of the ending. I would say more but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, as I think this book is one you should read blind, if that makes sense – maybe it’s just that I thought it went too far, specifically what happens with Masako. If you’ve read the book you’ll hopefully know what I’m talking about. Apart the that, the plot was enjoyable. As much as such a dark book can be enjoyable. Perhaps a better way to describe it, is that the plot is compelling. The characters are extremely well written, and I found the relationships to be really interesting, especially the relationships between the female characters. The whole dynamic between the four main women in this book was one of my favourite things about this book – they are not necessarily friends, but more acquaintances that are close due to the proximity of each other. Yet they end up having to rely on each other. It was such an interesting look into human nature and what can lead people to take extreme measures. I did question the motivations of the women sometimes. I understand the need for money, but I found I couldn’t quite get a grasp on Masako. Maybe that is the point. I think that is all I can really talk about, without talking about plot points.
Overall I would recommend it, if you are looking for a dark crime thriller. The characterisation is generally engaging throughout, and the suspense is very well done. It took me a little while to get into it, but as a whole I found it compelling. I am definitely interested to read more by this author.