This was my first taste of Japanese crime fiction and if this internationally bestselling book by Tetsuya Honda can be used as the standard for this genre, then I will happily add more to my book list.
Readers are introduced to Reiko Himekawa, a talented young Lieutenant who has risen quickly in the ranks and is famed for her crime solving capabilities. She has keen observation skills and a sharp intellect that enables her to make connections that others may never have made without more concrete evidence.
Her skills are put to the test when a body is discovered dumped in a seemingly random location. Wrapped in blue plastic, the victim has been brutally slain including a fatal slash to the neck and a nasty gash in the stomach.
Reiko and her team begin their investigation but as the body count rises with the victims bearing similar marks of brutality, the Homicide department realise they have the work of a deranged serial killer on their hands.
The murder scenes are wonderfully gory and graphic. You get to see some of the killer’s story before they are fully revealed too which gave an intriguing sinister aspect to the story. What I found most interesting about the novel was actually how the Japanese police operated. I found the whole hierarchy, politics and operation of the Japanese police to be fascinating. This does also mean that there are a lot of characters with lots of unfamiliar names and I sometimes found it hard to keep track of who was who. There is a handy cast list at the start of the book which helps with that though!
As a female who has climbed the ranks quickly and often outshines her colleagues, Reiko is not the most popular person ever. She has plenty of competition and some officers will go above the law to get ahead in the investigation. Reiko is heavily influenced by her troubled past and the reader learns a lot about her, almost as much as she learns about herself. This is the start of a series with Reiko in the spotlight and there is so much scope for her character to grow.
The Silent Dead is a dark and gritty thriller in which Tetsuya Honda has introduced a new crime fiction heroine to champion in a series set for continuing worldwide success.