The plot itself is slow moving and the setting is bleak and dark. The entire theme of the book is rather dark and gloomy. It does not have a noir feeling to it and I was hoping for something more on the creepy side considering a cult is involved. It’s not much scary or thrilling as it’s more dark and foreboding undertone throughout the entire novel. And it’s not just the police case that has this tone. It’s the characters, and Iwata himself that carries this feeling with him.
Iwata as a character, he’s not that likable or unlikable. There’s not much to him. He’s very stoic and takes quite a beating throughout the book. He can be wry with other characters in the book but when he puts his mind to his police work, he does the job even though he makes the rest of the department angry with him. He’s quite abrasive with his co workers but can be a great partner when need be.
So if you’re into police procedurals where you want high speed chases, lots of action and a real fast plot you will not find it in this one. You read this more for the characters and how they’re involved or what they have in common with each other whether through association of one other person, or just being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
I picked this up on a whim from the ALD Xpress table in my local library. I like mysteries and adventure books, including those in Asian settings. The book has an awesome start for a crime book. It then moves into a prolonged (not a bad thing) attempt to solve a more recent crime starting with a newly arrived, and psychologically damaged, lead inspector who is paired with an assistant inspector who is also damaged psychologically. Nevertheless both are talented investigators and their work proceeds with some interesting twists. The story goes back and forth between the current investigation and the past of the leading inspector - some of which is pretty quirky. About two thirds of the way through, the pace of the investigation speeds up with fewer trips into the past and the ending is creative and somewhat unexpected (clues have been dropped). At times I was wondering why so much time was spent looking into the past of the characters. After the end of the story, the author made that clear (thankfully): "... I realized then that BLUE LIGHT YOKOHAMA would be a crime novel only in facade. At its heart, I wanted to write about people in pain. About people who had lost something. So it was that Inspector Kosuke Iwata was born." He made that outline work delivering both a good mystery story and a psychological thriller. This is an interesting, quirky first novel. The test is whether I will choose to read the next novel he writes. The answer is yes!
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