Tokyo Year Zero, Paperback Book
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


Part one of David Peace's 'Tokyo Trilogy', and a stunning literary thriller in its own right, from the bestselling author of GB84 and The Damned Utd.

August 1946. One year on from surrender and Tokyo lies broken and bleeding at the feet of its American victors.

Against this extraordinary historical backdrop, Tokyo Year Zero opens with the discovery of the bodies of two young women in Shiba Park.

Against his wishes, Detective Minami is assigned to the case; as he gets drawn ever deeper into these complex and horrific murders, he realises that his own past and secrets are indelibly linked to those of the dead women and their killer.


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Sometimes you read a book that rather viciously forces you to adapt to it's style of writing. Irvine Welsh's "Trainspotting" was such a book for me, as was Tolkien's "The Simarillion" and Hal Duncan's "Vellum". Books like this aren't always bad, in fact they can be truly great, but they push you into an uncomfortable zone. Once in that zone, you will either acclimatise or give up.. My recent reading of "Vellum" was a sense of bewilderment and borderline refusal, whereas "Trainspotting" is a hilarious, and gripping read.I felt mildly uncomfortable reading "Tokyo Year Zero". It's definitely an ambitious novel, based on a true crime committed in post-surrender Japan, in a country where lives have been destroyed and a proud people are surviving hand to mouth. Given the struggling state of the country, it's odd to think that murders are being investigated but Inspector Minami is assigned to the case and quickly uncovers that the murder is not a once-off but part of the handiwork of a serial rapist and killer.It's clear that Minami is a man struggling with the world around him, and Peace uses inner monologues to bring the character to the reader. Repetitive sequences of words are designed to evoke the sounds of the world but fail to engage. Instead they feel intrusive and distracting. Although it's clear that the book is well-researched and the despair of post-war Japan is quite evocative, the unexciting plot, combined with the repetitive writing, means that the book falls short.