Lucie Blackman - tall, blonde, and 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.
The seven months in between had seen a massive search for the missing girl, involving Japanese policemen, British private detectives, Australian dowsers and Lucie's desperate, but bitterly divided, parents. As the case unfolded, it drew the attention of prime ministers and sado-masochists, ambassadors and con-men, and reporters from across the world. Had Lucie been abducted by a religious cult, or snatched by human traffickers? Who was the mysterious man she had gone to meet? And what did her work, as a 'hostess' in the notorious Roppongi district of Tokyo, really involve?
Richard Lloyd Parry, an award-winning foreign correspondent, has followed the case since Lucie's disappearance. Over the course of a decade, he has travelled to four continents to interview those caught up in the story, fought off a legal attack in the Japanese courts, and worked undercover as a barman in a Roppongi strip club. He has talked exhaustively to Lucie's friends and family and won unique access to the Japanese detectives who investigated the case. And he has delved into the mind and background of the man accused of the crime - Joji Obara, described by the judge as 'unprecedented and extremely evil'.
With the finesse of a novelist, he reveals the astonishing truth about Lucie and her fate. People Who Eat Darkness is, by turns, a non-fiction thriller, a courtroom drama and the biography of both a victim and a killer. It is the story of a young woman who fell prey to unspeakabale evil, and of a loving family torn apart by grief. And it is a fascinating insight into one of the world's most baffling and mysterious societies, a light shone into dark corners of Japan that the rest of the world has never glimpsed before.
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People Who Eat Darkness is an extraordinary, compulsive and brilliant book. The account of the crime, the investigation and the trial - particularly in its knowledge and understanding of the Japan in which this tragedy took place - is both insightful and gripping; the attempt to understand Obara is fascinating but never ghoulish; and finally, and most of all, the compassion for Lucie Blackman and her family is very, very moving. -
This is In Cold Blood for our times - in calm, mesmeric, unshrinking prose, Richard Lloyd Parry investigates an unbearable, pitiless crime with an eye to the bigger story it tells us about the age we are living through - an age haunted by its own inner darkness; by a dread of the monsters that move undetected amongst us. The masterful rendering of a decade of painstaking research, the pages turn themselves, and on each page the reader learns an urgent truth they may wish they had remained blind to. A masterpiece of writing this surely is, but it is more than that - it is a committed, compassionate, courageous act of journalism that changes the way we think. Everyone who has ever loved someone and held that life dear should read this stunning book, and shiver. -
'An extraordinary book, passionately and meticulously told, and memorable too for its intelligent refusal to judge, and its genuine compassion for every single character. But Lloyd Parry's real genius is to take you straight to the grim black heart of the crime at the centre of this unbearable family tragedy. I read it with my breath held and found I couldn't relax, think or get on with my life until I'd finished it.' -