17 January, 2017

#BookReview :: Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama, Jonathan Lloyd-Davies (Translator)

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 imagine what he would uncover. He would never have looked if he'd known what he would find.

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‘Six Four’ is the code name for an abduction case that happened in 1968. Young Shoko was kidnapped and her parents received a ransom call. Over the duration of seven days the police and the parents worked together to bring Shoko home. The parents even paid the ransom money, yet the girl was never returned or found. The case remains open and people never let the law officials forget their failure in the case. In 2002, Yoshinobu Mikami, a cop, visits the girl's father with an agenda of his own. With his own daughter on the run and a new kidnapping case with a ransom call happening, Yoshinobu is attracted to this old case. As he discovers a certain incongruity in the case, he digs further. What he discovers surprises him, but can he solve this case and bring his own daughter back home at the same time?

The blurb somehow reminded me of Keigo Higashino’s books. In some ways, the long drawn out case does have a similarity to his books as does the detail oriented treatment of the novel. But that is where the similarities end and Hideo Yokoyama holds his own with this book.

The plot is multi layered with multiple angles that it can be looked at from. For instance, there is the old case of Shoko, the new kidnapping case and the case of Ayumi, Mikami’s daughter. As things unfold there are layers of secrets and twists that are uncovered keeping the readers busy guessing what turn the novel may take next. There is a plethora of characters involved and they are developed well in order to assimilate with the plot.

The book, along with telling us of a mystery, also tells us a lot about the Japanese culture and police procedure. The only thing that irked me a bit was the pace. But telling a story in detail can do that to the pacing. As such when I finished reading the book, I found myself pretty happy to have had the patience in the beginning. It is after all a big book.

Recommended to Mystery lovers.

Review Copy received from Hachette India

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