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I picked this up thinking it would be the perfect true crime read (it was) but it was also a surprising, captivating investigation into the depths of Japanese culture and nightlife and the bizzare and unsettling lengths to which a society will go to find one missing white girl. In glimmering, gripping, and well-researched prose, we follow Perry from England to Japan, down the streets of Tokyo's entertainment district, and across oceans and cities, as he encounters one strange character and experience after another. People Who Eat Darkness is gritty and fascinating and well worth a good read.— From Claire
Lucie Blackman--tall, blond, twenty-one years old--stepped out into the vastness of Tokyo in the summer of 2000, and disappeared forever. The following winter, her dismembered remains were found buried in a seaside cave.
Richard Lloyd Parry, an award-winning foreign correspondent, covered Lucie's disappearance and followed the massive search for her, the long investigation, and the even longer trial. Over ten years, he earned the trust of her family and friends, won unique access to the Japanese detectives and Japan's convoluted legal system, and delved deep into the mind of the man accused of the crime, Joji Obara, described by the judge as "unprecedented and extremely evil."
The result is a book at once thrilling and revelatory, "In Cold Blood for our times" (Chris Cleave, author of Incendiary and Little Bee).
The People Who Eat Darkness is one of Publishers Weekly's Top 10 Best Books of 2012
“Richard Lloyd Parry’s remarkable examination of [this] crime, what it revealed about Japanese society and how it unsettled conventional notions of bereavement, elevates his book above the genre. People Who Eat Darkness is a searing exploration of evil and trauma, and how both ultimately elude understanding or resolution . . . Just as the grief of Blackman's parents is unassaugeable, Obara and his motives are unknowable. That is the darkness at the heart of this book, one Lloyd Parry conveys with extraordinary effect and emotion . . . People Who Eat Darkness is a fascinating mediation that does not pretend to offer pat answers to obscene mysteries.” ―Susan Chira, The New York Times Book Review
Americans have an advantage in reading People Who Eat Darkness―we are less likely to know about Lucie Blackman. The blond Brit was 21 when she disappeared in Japan in 2000; the months-long search for her made headlines in both Japan and England. Unlike readers there, we have an extra level of suspense―we don't know what happened to Lucie―although we will by the middle of this masterful literary true crime story, which earns its comparisons to Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and Norman Mailer’s The Executioner's Song . . . Like the case of Etan Patz, the Lucie Blackman disappearance captured the public imagination. By writing about it in such culturally informed detail, Parry subtly encourages an understanding that goes past the headlines. It is a dark, unforgettable ride.” ―Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Time
[In People Who Eat Darkness], Mr. Parry finds his voice, and it’s a sturdy one. His book becomes not merely an exemplary piece of reportage but a sustained and quietly profound work of moral inquiry as well. It becomes ominous in ways that go well beyond the calculated shock value of its cover . . . Mr. Parry writes exceedingly well . . . [and] People Who Eat Darkness is surprisingly soulful, especially in its portrait of Ms. Blackman . . . He’s restored her to life in this vivid book.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times
People Who Eat Darkness is a factual account, but it is as compelling as any thriller. The narrative gallops along, with dramatic twists, turns and half-resolutions. Joji Obara, Lucie's abductor and apparent murderer, is every bit as brilliant and terrifying as the fictional Hannibal Lecter . . . The author's discussion of the effects of Lucie's murder on Tim and the rest of the Blackman family is intimate, sensitive and chilling . . . intelligent, compassionate.” —Melanie Kirkpatrick, The Wall Street JournalOne of the best books of the Year
“People Who Eat Darkness is an exceptionally perceptive and nuanced look at a terrible crime, one that put nations, institutions and family members at odds, and often into bitter and toxic conflict . . . [L]ike Capote, [the author is] less interested in dishing the eerie or lurid details than he is in exploring the penumbra of the crime, the complex factors that fed into it and the unpredictable effects it had on an ever-spreading network of people.” —Laura Miller, Salon.com
“A big, ambitious true crime book in the tradition of Norman Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song and Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.” —Esquire
“Compelling . . . Rich in intelligence and insight . . . This isn’t just the tale of a murder case but a book that sheds light on Japan, on families, on the media, and . . . on the insidious effects of misogyny.” —Blake Morrison, The Guardian
“A work not only of page-turning intensity but also of touching sensitivity and deep insight.” —David Pilling, Financial Times
“The most compelling book I read this year . . . Written with a novelist’s eye for insight and narrative, it's a cracking read that tracks the haphazard investigation, the eventual arrest of the truly bizarre killer and the heartbreaking plight of the Blackman family members left to cope with the dreadful consequences.” —Sydney Morning Herald“A classic of the rather compromised true crime genre, a rigorous, meticulous and intelligent work of long form journalism . . . Lloyd Parry deals with the consequences for families, friends and lovers—unassuageable pain, guilt and recrimination—with most unusual thoroughness and scrupulous empathy.” —Peter Alford, Weekend Australian
“Thoroughly researched [and] very well written, appalling and absolutely enthralling.” —Patrick Skene Catling, The Irish Times