Thursday, 2 February 2017

Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolas Obregon

Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolas Obregon
First published in the UK by Penguin Random House today, the 2nd February 2017.

How I got this book:
Received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Inspired by the still unsolved murder of a Japanese family in 2000, Blue Light Yokohama is 2017's most original and gripping crime debut.
Inspector Kosuke Iwata, newly transferred to Tokyo's homicide department, is assigned a new partner and a secondhand case. Blunt, hard as nails and shunned by her colleagues, Assistant Inspector Noriko Sakai is a partner Iwata decides it would be unwise to cross.
A case that's complicated - a family of four murdered in their own home by a killer who then ate ice cream, surfed the web and painted a hideous black sun on the bedroom ceiling before he left in broad daylight. A case that so haunted the original investigator that he threw himself off the city's famous Rainbow Bridge.
Carrying his own secret torment, Iwata is no stranger to pain. He senses the trauma behind the killer's brutal actions. Yet his progress is thwarted in the unlikeliest of places.
Fearing corruption among his fellow officers, tracking a killer he's sure is only just beginning and trying to put his own shattered life back together, Iwata knows time is running out before he's taken off the case or there are more killings .
Blue Light Yokohama is crime fiction at its very best - gripping, haunting, atmospheric and utterly captivating.

I loved the opening chapters of Blue Light Yokohama, in particular Obregon's style of language which incorporates exquisite descriptive prose. He really does have a beautiful turn of phrase! We start by witnessing a fifteen-year-old tragic event, before jumping almost to the present day and immersing ourselves in the sights and sounds of Tokyo. The city could be considered a central character as its districts and atmosphere are a vital part of the novel. Obregon is a European author, but one who has a strong understanding of Japanese life so I appreciated his authenticity. He also takes time to introduce his characters. Our detective inspector, Iwata, is perhaps unbelievably indestructible, but I liked the device of a song repeatedly rattling around his head.

After such great beginnings, I was disappointed when I realised where the storyline was heading. I had hoped for a more original plotline and, although Obregon relates events well, the criminal motive has already been explored in a number of other novels. Excitement mounts as we close in on the killer though. Simultaneous events and multiple investigation lines maintain an exhilarating pace and allowing myself to frequently suspend disbelief enabled me to enjoy the ride.

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Books by Nicolas Obregon / Crime fiction / Books from Spain


  1. I'm glad he's able to write about the Japanese life with great authenticity despite his not being born in Japan. Very interesting.

    1. I think he lives or lived out there. He's certainly got a great sense of the city :-)