Book Review: Nightshade – An Only In Tokyo Mystery By Jonelle Patrick
First in a series of mysteries that could happen only in Tokyo!
Yumi Hata has returned to Tokyo after a stint in the U.S. She works as a translator whose only friend in the whole of the city is Rika. She keeps her from the total isolation she feels during her stay, but when she is found dead, Yumi feels alone again, the isolation and loneliness creeping up on her.
For most people, knowing a friend is what can make them question why someone so dear would kill herself and Yumi does this as she remembers what kind of girl Rika was. Rika had no problems, was happy and had no suicidal tendencies as far as she was aware. She could be wrong, but the very idea of her doing such a thing seemed alien to Yumi.
The man in charge of Rika’s case is Kenji, her old school friend who also finds the idea of Rika wanting to kill herself unusual and alien to her natural personality. With Kenji helping her they set out to uncover the truth behind Rika’s death, coming to the conclusion that instead of suicide, she must have been murdered. What they find is Lolita’s, trendy bars and a suicide pact website that shows the dark underbelly of Japan at its very worst.
As the first Only in Tokyo Mystery series, Patrick concentrates partly on Jisatsu or suicide pact. Japan is known for its ritualistic suicide as a way of getting out of problems due to life not going the way they had hoped, self-loathing, depression and failure at work or in the family. As everyone who Yumi and Kenji come into contact with believes Rika had committed suicide, the authorities don’t see any reason to think otherwise until the two of them start to investigate the possibility there could be a murderer on the loose, and while the rest of the police force forget the case, he or she could strike again.
Suicide is what some people in the West think of as detrimental to the family, friends and the person concerned, but in Japan ritual suicide among men was thought of as a noble and decent way to end your life from suffering, stress and shame. It isn’t strange that ritual suicide among young girls has surfaced over the past twenty years either. As Kenji is the only one in the force who doesn’t think Rika killed herself, he has the opportunity to prove it though his doing so brings up a side of Japanese life he didn’t want to know about.
One of the interesting parts of this book as Nightshade (click here to read a chapter sample) also comes with a series of photographs of Japan that gives the reader a visual impression of the country, its setting and sights as well as reading about it. It has a three dimensional feel to it that the reader benefited from. The photographs also serve to give it a more pleasing theme than it being only a thriller in another country. Despite it being this, Patrick enlightens us about Japanese life, lifestyle, rituals and Gothic Lolitas. For those who want to know more about Japan from someone who has lived over there, Patrick acts as a tour guide with a mystery thriller difference.
Jonelle Patrick lives in Tokyo and San Francisco. When she’s not writing about murder at the local shrine, she blogs for GaijinPot and run a travel website, The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had, featuring off-the-beaten-path things that visitors don’t usually get to see unless they’re taken around by a local.
But mostly Jonelle is a mystery writer and is currently working on the fourth book in the Only In Tokyo mystery series, and belongs to the International Thriller Writers, Mystery Writers of America and Sisters In Crime.
Author: Jonelle Patrick
Format: Hardback, Paperback and Kindle
Pages: 390 pages
Publish date: 14 August 2012
Available from all good booksellers including Amazon.co.uk
Sandie has a keen interest in Anime, Manga and all things Japanese. Her interests other than reviewing are Japanese Language, dress and culture, liking Harajuku Girls, Gothic Lolita, folding some neat Origami, drawing her own Manga characters, writing her own Manga stories and everything in between.