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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The ambitious but sometimes impenetrable plot of Yokoyama's Six Four

Still moving along with Hideo Yokoyama's Six Four, a rcime-mystery-police novel set in 2002 Japan - extremely long for the mystery genre, at nearly 600 dense pages, but HY's aspirations are higher, as this is a novel with the scope of literary fiction - not simply a who dunnit, so to speak, but an examination of the complex relations of the police and the media, internal politics w/in the PD, family psychodrama, political corruption and police protection thereof, and of course a crime - kidnap, murder, of a 7-year-old girl - unsolved over 14 years and now a priority for the PD as the statute of limitations looms. I find a lot of the drama difficult, even impenetrable - I really think most American readers will throw up their hands in frustration as we try to follow the complex internal politics in the PD, as there's not a lot of background and the inter-relations of various departments and officials is extremely hard to keep straight, even w/ a cast of characters at the opening (as in many Russian novels). So I find myself skimming these sections and focusing on the more immediate and apparent elements. There are several "mysteries" unfolding here: Who killed the young girl 14 years back? Why did the police fail to find the killer? Why did the girl's family break off all relations with the PD? Why is the central office suddenly focused on a reviving this case? The main character in the novel, and the only one so far (1/3 of the way through) with any even partially developed back story, is the police officer Mikami - recently bumped from detectives to "media relations." In his new role he finds himself completely shut off from info about developing cases - a familiar, and completely wrong, way for an agency to deal w/ media relations and communications. He receives the low-level assignment of speaking w/ the kidnapped girl's father and asking if he is will to allow the top police chief based in Tokyo (I imagine his role is comparable to the head of the FBI) to visit - in an attempt to build media interest in the case and unearth some clues.When the man unexpectedly refuses, this ignites Mikami's suspicions and he embarks on a quest to find out what caused this split and why the police may have screwed up the case. In a subplot that I think will eventually be tied to the main plot, Mikami's daughter, who suffers from BMD (hatred of her own body and appearance), vanishes, and police nationwide are in a search for her, or for her corpse. Novel opens w/ Mikami called to a station to ID a corpse that turns out not to be his daughter's; I expect that the novel may end w/ a similar scene?

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