Blue Light Yokahama [review]

Blue Light Yokohama - Nicolás Obregón

Title: Blue Light Yokohama
Author: Nicolás Obregón
Publisher: Penguin UK – Michael Joseph

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[Synopsis]

Setagaya ward, Tokyo
Inspector Kosuke Iwata, newly transferred to Tokyo’s homicide department, is assigned a new partner and a secondhand case.

Blunt, hard as nails and shunned by her colleagues, Assistant Inspector Noriko Sakai is a partner Iwata decides it would be unwise to cross.

A case that’s complicated – a family of four murdered in their own home by a killer who then ate ice cream, surfed the web and painted a hideous black sun on the bedroom ceiling before he left in broad daylight. A case that so haunted the original investigator that he threw himself off the city’s famous Rainbow Bridge.

Carrying his own secret torment, Iwata is no stranger to pain. He senses the trauma behind the killer’s brutal actions. Yet his progress is thwarted in the unlikeliest of places.

Fearing corruption among his fellow officers, tracking a killer he’s sure is only just beginning and trying to put his own shattered life back together, Iwata knows time is running out before he’s taken off the case or there are more killings…

[My Review]

Blue Light Yokohama is a well-written police procedural/ crime novel which follows Inspector Iwata and his colleague Sakai investigated a triple homicide, strange symbols and mysterious rituals. There’s also what appears to be suicides with strange circumstances.

The plot is paced fairly slowly for the most part, though it does pick up at the end and really ramps up the tension. It features interesting and quite different characters, but I found I didn’t hugely care about them, even though we get a lot of flashbacks to give more context to Iwata, for example. We didn’t get a huge insight into why he made the decisions he did, though we found out more about how his childhood shaped him as an adult. I found that quite a few of the flashbacks didn’t tell me a lot of relevant information, but they were entertaining to read anyway.

Blue Light Yokohama felt quite long, perhaps because it’s quite slow paced as I mentioned, but it’s actually around average length – just over 400 pages. Perhaps what I felt was unnecessary information also made me think it’s longer than it actually is. The first third is quite intriguing and I was really drawn in, but the middle third is a little slow and I started to lose interest. The last third then picks up the pace again and reveals all in the concluding chapters, which I really enjoyed reading, and plenty of loose ends are tied up (though not all of them, which felt more realistic than when every single part is neatly finished off, as is the case with many other novels). There’s some parts that I feel you’d need to suspend your disbelief for, but I really reading a novel set in Japan, somewhere I’d really like to visit one day, and it made a welcome change from crime novels set in America or England. This, coupled with the beautiful writing, made a change from some other crime novels – it sort of felt more ‘literary’ (a very vague term, I know – sorry!).

This novel is definitely still worth a read for crime fans; it offers something a little different in its style and setting. I just felt that some parts didn’t quite draw me in as much as I wanted them to, leaving me a little less excited by Blue Light Yokohoma than I would have liked, considering its interesting premise.

[Rating: 3/5]

Blue Light Yokohama is published in the UK on 2 February 2017.

Many thanks to Penguin UK – Michael Joseph and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel.

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