In The Miso Soup – Ryu Murakami

After having read a few ‘ropey’ books that were not exactly my sort of book but also not really ones that I have particularly enjoyed ‘In The Miso Soup’ by Ryu Murakami. Bizarrely this wasn’t actually the book that I had originally wanted, I wanted ‘Piercing’ which is a shocking tale of a man who stands with an ice pick above his child’s crib every night. But you don’t want to hear about that story you want to hear about this one.

The story is told by Kenji, an unlicensed tour guide of Tokyo, however this isn’t the normal tourist traps, he is a guide of the darker back streets and red light district. He is a sex tourist guide. We first meet him as he first meets his latest client an American called Frank. However there is something odd about Frank, he has a slightly inhuman quality and he lies, not just ashamed business man lies, but lies that sink deeper. There has also been a murder or two in Tokyo of late and evidence seems to point to Frank, but is Kenji’s client a psychopath, and if so will Kenji survive three nights or be an accomplice to murder?

This book was fantastic. At only 180 pages it manages to pack a real punch. You have a meaty and clever story line that not only studies the minds of psychopaths but also looks at the sex industry in Tokyo in modern times. I found the character of Frank fascinating and incredibly creepy. While there are some seriously gruesome scenes this book is more creepy and sinister than all out gore, a dark and disturbing modern thriller all in all.

This is the book that Grotesque really wanted to be but in about 300 less pages and with much greater pace and intrigue. The more Chinese and Japanese writing I read the more I love it. So with that I am really looking forward to reading more of it, and will be ordering ‘Piercing’ as soon as possible. Though this may not be the sort of subject that you may want to read, try, its great writing and you’ll manage it in one sitting I promise, it also has an ending that seriously makes you think.

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Filed under Bloomsbury Publishing, Review, Ryu Murakami

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