People Who Eat Darkness: The Fate of Lucie Blackman (英語) ハードカバー – 2011/3/7
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An incisive and compelling account of the case of Lucie Blackman. Lucie Blackman -- tall, blonde, and 21 years old -- stepped out into the vastness of Tokyo in the summer of 2000, and disappeared forever. The following winter, her dismembered remains were found buried in a seaside cave.
The seven months inbetween had seen a massive search for the missing girl, involving Japanese policemen, British private detectives, Australian dowsers and Lucie's desperate, but bitterly divided, parents. As the case unfolded, it drew the attention of prime ministers and sado-masochists, ambassadors and con-men, and reporters from across the world. Had Lucie been abducted by a religious cult, or snatched by human traffickers? Who was the mysterious man she had gone to meet? And what did her work, as a 'hostess' in the notorious Roppongi district of Tokyo, really involve?
Richard Lloyd Parry, an award-winning foreign correspondent, has followed the case since Lucie's disappearance. Over the course of a decade, he has travelled to four continents to interview those caught up in the story, fought off a legal attack in the Japanese courts, and worked undercover as a barman in a Roppongi strip club. He has talked exhaustively to Lucie's friends and family and won unique access to the Japanese detectives who investigated the case. And he has delved into the mind and background of the man accused of the crime -- Joji Obara, described by the judge as 'unprecedented and extremely evil'.
With the finesse of a novelist, he reveals the astonishing truth about Lucie and her fate. People Who Eat Darkness is, by turns, a non-fiction thriller, a courtroom drama and the biography of both a victim and a killer. It is the story of a young woman who fell prey to unspeakable evil, and of a loving family torn apart by grief. And it is a fascinating insight into one of the world's most baffling and mysterious societies, a light shone into dark corners of Japan that the rest of the world has never glimpsed before.
"People Who Eat Darkness is an extraordinary, compulsive and brilliant book. The account of the crime, the investigation and the trial -- particularly in its knowledge and understanding of the Japan in which this tragedy took place -- is both insightful and gripping; the attempt to understand Obara is fascinating but never ghoulish; and finally, and most of all, the compassion for Lucie Blackman and her family is very, very moving."
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Started it one evening, finished it the following day, read it straight through, pretty much.
Really well-written, and for those of us who were here at the time and / or have been here since, it's an excellent and detailed summary, and a reminder of the drawn-out events of the decade following Lucie's death.
The author really did his homework - he didn't just phone it in, but spent a lot of time following the events - of course as a journalist in Tokyo, but then his involvement reached another, personal level, and he spent a fair bit of time with those involved - family, friends, colleagues, investigators...and carried out comprehensive interviews.
I can't remember any more how I felt about it all at the time (I'm in Japan) , but reading a reasoned, informative account reminded me.
The British papers made a proper meal out of the Blackmans' animosity for each other, especially after he took the money. Parry's sympathy for Mr Blackman is there, but not in yo'face. Which I was glad to read, because the press and public opinion really had it out for him when he took the money. Reading about it in this concise and comprehensive (is it possible to be both? I mean the author didn't drag anything out) book, it makes his reasons for taking the money understandable. And, indeed, as Parry says many a time, what business is it of ours how people act,react,grieve... Let's just be grateful we weren't in their shoes.
Parry is very fair.
It's very interesting to read about the Japanese police investigation, and the lengthy trial. It's so sad to read about the poor woman, well, women. I forgot how terrible it all was.
It really was a heart-wrenching story and it really made me feel for the family and close friends of Lucie. Rather than bringing them together in their grief, it tore apart their already fragile relationship even more.
I got the feeling that the author took the side of the father, but he did a really good job in still presenting all the sides fairly.
I can't even begin to imagine how myself or my family would react to a situation like this so dare not comment on how they seemed to deal with it.
It was also interesting to see how the 'justice system' works in other countries and how it differs to here in Australia. I find it so hard to believe that someone can commit crimes like this and still continue to adamantly deny they did anything wrong, it would be interesting to see how Joji Obara feels at the end of his life sentence.
This book is a must read for young women, especially those who like to travel.
Richard Lloyd Parry has given us several things, including (but not limited to) the following: first, an image of Tokyo and life there for young expats which more or less conforms to what I had imagined as an 'outsider' who has only visited the Big Smoke occasionally and Roppongi only once; second, insights into the life and history of Zainichi Koreans from which group Obara came; third, a portrait of a typically dysfunctional British family marred by a divorce and the effects thereof; fourth, a sketch of the Japanese police which is critical of the organisation's procedures and inability to deal with rare cases but quite complimentary of individual officers; fifth, a window onto Japanese legal and court proceedings, lengthy, flawed and tedious as they are; sixth, detailed biographical portraits of Lucie and Obara, and many others, and some autobiography too as the author was caught up in the case and even sued for libel by Obara at one point.
The writing style is colourful and pacy, but also lucid and transparent. The analysis is penetrating and thoughtful, and carefully supported by detailed annotations. I particularly appreciated the refusal to rush to judgement over how any of the players in this tragedy had reacted to Lucie's premature death, in particular Tim Blackman's accepting the 100 million yen from Obara which did not affect the final verdict as to the latter's guilt. In the end the reader must draw his own conclusions about that, and about the whole bizarre case.