Six-Four



Six-Four
Hide Yokoyama
Jonathan Lloyd-Davies
643pp

Written in Japanese in 2012 and translated into English in 2015 this kidnapping mystery was well received and sold enough copies to allow for Seventeen, another Yokoyama title to receive translation earlier this year (future review to come). Yokoyama was a journalist, and it shows in his writing, as detail is probably his biggest strength as a writer.

And details you get in Six-Four. This is a thick book and although a smooth and engaging read, it takes time to get through it all.

As for the plot, former detective Mikami, now new head of PR at a prefecture outside of Tokyo. The change in position feels as much like a demotion as it does like a judgement. Mikami has a feeling that he has been placed where he is in order to be used as an easily movable puppet.

At this same time, the anniversary of a major kidnapping is coming up, bringing up questions of why no-one was ever brought to justice.

Also, at this same time, Mikami's daughter has been missing (she is no child, but her lack of communication with the family is driving her mother and father mad with worry).

And... at the exact same time, the press is planning a boycott of sorts in reply to the withholding of names and details of hit-and-run case.

So, all of these are pushed together, spun in and around and connected with a skill that proves Yokoyama will be around for the long haul. However, as happens with such intricate tails is that some  of the stories are far more interesting and at times it feels like some are used as padding to elongate the book.

For me, a bit of a shorter work (which 17 appears to be) might have been better. The main kidnapping is captivating. The broken father of the young girl taken and killed so long ago is wonderfully presented and perfectly fit with our currently broken former detective.

And, certainly as interesting, if not possibly more important overall, is the story of Mikami's missing daughter. Will she be found? Is she still alive? Did she simply leave? These are important to the story, but not nearly as important as Mikami's deep belief that the reason she left is because she felt incredibly angry at the fact she looked more like her father than her beautiful mother. This idea was written in a amazingly heartbreakingly way, where a father has to watch his wife slowly hide herself from the world in reaction to a daughter's running away, because she shared his DNA. That is an idea that simply stuck me hard (hmmm... my wife is certainly prettier than I am, but I can't help but believe that most people can feel for the idea that if a child hates his nose, the one that looks exactly like one parents... it can feel like an attack on something you had no control over).

Overall, I would recommend this book, though you need to set aside the time, and realize that some of the plot are less exciting or interesting to the overall book.

I look forward to reading Seventeen this summer.


Amazon USA

Amazon Japan

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