Friday, July 26, 2013

Evil and the Mask by Fuminori Nakamura

When I read this from the product description, I figured I pretty much had to read the book:

When Fumihiro Kuki is eleven years old, his elderly, enigmatic father calls him into his study for a meeting. "I created you to be a cancer on the world," his father tells him. It is a tradition in their wealthy family: a patriarch, when reaching the end of his life, will beget one last child to dedicate to causing misery in a world that cannot be controlled or saved. From this point on, Fumihiro will be specially educated to learn to create as much destruction and unhappiness in the world around him as a single person can.

Does Nakamura write a novel equal to this premise? Well, he comes pretty darn close. The first chapter of this book is dynamite, a textbook example of how to hook a reader. This book is relentlessly grim throughout, but it doesn't finish on the note I’d been anticipating. Some of the dialog is a bit overdone, especially when the characters are waxing philosophical. But that shouldn't deter the reader who doesn't mind reading noir where almost every character is a sociopath.

Note on the Kindle Edition: I read this in Kindle format, and I must offer here some praise to the publisher, Soho Crime. The eBook formatting on this novel was top-notch. It nearly recreates the admiration one feels for a finely crafted interior design for a physical book.

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