Monday, June 15, 2015
Review: "People Who Eat Darkness" by Richard Lloyd Parry
I have come to the conclusion after reading People Who Eat Darkness, Richard Lloyd Parry’s book chronicling the murder of a British girl in Tokyo, that I can’t read true crime books too often. This, and Blood Will Out (the last book that I reviewed) are fantastic, engaging and eye-opening, but they are also draining brutal experiences that can shake a reader to the core. They house within them harsh truths about the fragility of life and the total lack of closure that we all must deal with. No matter who goes to jail in cases like these, people like Lucie Blackman are still gone and are never coming back. They leave a lingering detritus of grief-stricken family members, unanswered questions and the threat of inescapable violence. And it can all happen to a normal person, and that very thought is nightmarish, and personally, not something I want to dwell on too much. But if you are going to read a book like this, and slalom down this rabbit hole, this book is among the best and most in-depth. Parry is not a detached observer of the crimes chronicled in this book. He not only wants to create a definitive text on such a crime as this, but, maybe, he hopes that it will shed light on a distinctly cultural problem in Japan, one that allowed such a crime to go unnoticed for so long, and will no doubt do the same thing in other cases much like this one. The crime in questions involves Lucie Blackman, a young woman who found herself working at a hostess in Tokyo’s Roppongi district. Her job title was vague, but it consisted of her, for a lack of a better word, flirting with the male clientele, who were mostly Japanese businessmen, and making them feel good enough to become repeat customers. In July of 2000, Lucie tells her friend, Louise, that she is meeting someone, and she never comes back. From there, the story gets real dark and very nasty, dissecting a culture of Japan that allows for predators to hunt freely (with many pages dedicated to the list of perversions one can satisfy in the Roppongi district) without any interference from a Japanese police force that is equally careless and clueless on how to deal with such brutal crimes, with one footnote concerning how a family had to sit helplessly by and watch their son get murdered being particularly infuriating. Once a subject is arrested, it becomes obvious whose clutches Lucie fell into, a man who’s sexual and predatory urges seemed to have no limits. Parry discusses this, as well as the affect the murder had on the Blackman family, with the utmost respect for truth and justice while also never taking any sides once details emerge about the volatile nature of Lucie’s parents, Tim and Jane. This is a painful study on a cultural inclination towards violence, a broken system that is need of reevaluation, and the effect one’s person’s life has on many others. While never the most pleasant of books, or even most rewarding, it’s still a compelling, important work of art.