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

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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Why I won't finish reading Six Four

It does happen sometimes: I've read through 350 pages of Hideo Yokoyama's crime novel Six Four and have decided enough is enough. I could obviously read on for the next 200 pages and find out who dunnit (I'm assuming the two crimes that Yokyama establishes at the outset - the disappearance of the police officer Mikami's daughter and the kidnap-murder case from 14 years back - will be in some manner resolved by the end of a 600-page novel!). But actually at this point I don't care, and there are so many great books I could be reading. For those who love police procedurals and want to read one that's a little out of the ordinary - given the Japanese setting and the unusual length and complexity of the plot - Six Four is worth a look. For others, like me, who rarely read crime fiction, this is not one with which to start. Either of the two "crimes" HY establishes could have been the spine of this novel, but it seems to me that about 90 percent of the narrative concern a third plot element, the internecine battle for control w/in the Japanese regional police department. For a non-Japanese reader, and maybe even for a Japanese reader, it's almost impossible to follow the thread of this narrative and ultimately - do we really care who comes out on top? The Tokyo national police? The administrative division? The criminal-investigations division? Who cares? I thought I would be interested in some of this, in particularly because the protagonist is assigned to "media relations," which I have worked in from both sides - media and relations - for +30 years, but none of the characters comes alive and the stakes here - will the media boycott a visit by a Tokyo police commissioner our of pique because the PD is withholding the name of someone involved in a fatal car accident? - are so low. At half its length, this novel might find an American audience but as is, despite an NYTBR front-page rave review (how did that happen?), I have my doubts.

1 comment:

  1. I, like you, abandoned this book over halfway through (and for the same reasons). However I did skip to the end and was pleased with an unexpected resolution (of sorts).

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