Hideo Yokoyama: Six Four

Synopsis:

For five days in January 1989, the parents of a seven-year-old Tokyo schoolgirl sat and listened to the demands of their daughter’s kidnapper. They would never learn his identity. They would never see their daughter again.

For the fourteen years that followed, the Japanese public listened to the police’s apologies. They would never forget the botched investigation that became known as ‘Six Four’. They would never forgive the authorities their failure.

For one week in late 2002, the press officer attached to the police department in question confronted an anomaly in the case. He could never have imagined what he would uncover. He would never have looked if he’d known what he would find.

 

Review:

Considering this book is a translation from Japanese, you wouldn’t think it. The writing has no flaws and flows really well with good description and attention to detail. However, I did not like Yokoyama’s overall writing style and the way he portrayed the narrative. There was a lot of information being dumped in the chapters with many pages going by without any dialogue or action focusing primarily on the main characters thoughts and feelings to actions past and how he planned to progress forward. Though I understood that this was key to the development of the story and to allow the narrative to progress forward, it became tedious, time-consuming and, at some points, repetitive as I found phrases were repeated often or that the main character was rehashing over events he had already pondered on.

Similarly, with the main character focusing on one issue in continuous chapters and another for a series after, it sometimes felt like other narrative strands were being neglected or put to the side. Six Four holds a few strands that make up the bulk of the novel: the politics involved in Japanese law enforcement and press relations, Mikami’s daughters disappearance, and the open case surrounding Six Four. Many chapters would go by without any direct mention of the second strand, leaving me to question why such an important event in the main character’s life wasn’t being weighted alongside the others. It is only towards the end of the novel, that Mikami’s daughters disappearance shows its significance and how Mikami’s development throughout the novel allows him to accept the events taking place within his personal life.

With the amount of character’s connected to all of these strands, the novel becomes a bit confusing and sometimes clunky in that many of the names appear similar in spelling causing me to become puzzled as to which character I was reading about and how they related to events taking place, only to find I was thinking of another character. That being said, the use of names brings authenticity to the Japanese aspect of the narrative – I just felt like less similar sounding names could have been used as well as less names in general though it does help you to understand the structure and hierarchy in Japanese politics and law.

That being said, the overall premise of the novel was intriguing and I loved the way the investigation surrounding Six Four played out and resolved itself. There is a lot of mystery and intrigue surrounding the culprit with twists and turns aplenty. With a different approach, I feel like the novel could have been worth of more praise and sat there amongst my top reviews.

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