Sunday, September 24, 2017

Review: "Six Four" by Hideo Yokoyama

Six Four, the English language debut of Japanese crime writer Hideo Yokoyama might be the most interesting international crime novel I have come across. Since The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo came out, we have seen a rather insane amount of noir books come from Scandinavian countries. What most of these books have in common is their length, with the hardcover editions being around 400 pages and the paperback editions clocking in around 500, and their proclivities toward violence and extreme behavior. I have only ever read books by Jo Nesbo, (although the two that I have read have not been a part of the Harry Hole series) and The Crow Girl by the Swedish duo Erik Axl Sund. As intense as they books were, especially The Crow Girl, the violence turned me off a bit, going from disturbing to gratuitous to ridiculous. But in Six Four, there is none of that, and it makes what happens a little bit more interesting without lowering what is at stake. It is sure to disappoint a few people in search of blood and guts, and a lot of the problems here can be found in other international crime books, but this is a more mature book than some might expect. At the heart of this novel is Mikami, a former detective turned press director of Prefecture D haunted by the Six Four case, where a young girl was kidnapped and murdered, partly due to the botched attempts to recover her. Now, 14 years later and with his teenaged daughter missing and an upcoming visit from the commissioner general, his life slowly becomes chaotic as he discovers new clues in the decades old case, which only offers up more questions. As I said, my problem with a lot of these kinds of crime novels is their details are area-specific, which can sometime hinder the urgency of the proceedings. But there are enough human moments to elevate this away from mere boilerplate status, with in scene where a crime is described in heartbreaking, but not graphic detail being a standout. The twist is also good, much better than the one at the center of The Crow Girl. It takes awhile to take shape, but when it does, it is very rewarding. If you like mystery with a foreign flare and a beating, non-cynical, this is a long ride worth taking.

Rating: 4/5

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