Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino
Japanese thriller fiction
Original title Gurotesuku
Translator – Rebecca Copeland
Source Personnel copy
I tend to buy most books I see second-hand in translation ,that appeal on some level this was the case with this book I saw it in a charity shop last summer and put up on the shelf so when tony announced that he was doing January in Japan it seemed a perfect time to read this crime thriller .Natsuo Kirino is female Japanese writer .she is a leading figure in the current boom in female detective fiction this is the second of three crime novels she has had translated into English .She also writes romance novel in Japan under a different name .So to Grotesque the title is maybe a comment on the world that is involved in the book ..
It was the kind of navy-blue knee sock most everyone wore .Only this one had a Ralph Lauren logo on top
Everyone was completely nonchalant .No one seemed to care if they’d lost something because unlike me ,they could go out and buy another one .That is why I found it odd that this girl was making such a fuss over a lousy sock .She held it out to show her friends.
The school where it starts is rather posh .
Well I was a bit nervous about this book as I’m not a huge Genre reader at best of times .But as I started I was slowly drawn into this world of women with secrets ,those secrets selling their body to men for money and two women that end up dead but have different journey into prostitution but did start at the same school growing up .these two women Yuriko and Kauze had problems at school but both end on the streets now they’ve been murder Yuriko younger sister is trying to find out what happened and is delving into the dark underground world that her sister ended up living in .She sees how via her Journal she start with rich business men but like a footballer that stays on playing to long she started to slid and ended on the street corner rather like seeing a once great player plying their trade for a lower league club .The world we are drawn into is very seedy her sister went to an expensive school and gets dazzled by the labels and life that she see this is how she ends up in the game so to speak .We see how these girls fall and how the police and the sister try to find the killer .
When I met Yuriko ,it spelled misfortune for us both .I heard from detective Takashi that Ms Hirata had once been beautiful and had worked as a model .Detective Takashi went on to say that as she grew old and ugly she became a cheap street-walker ” But I thought she was beautiful .
One of the men that her sister used to meet .
Well I wasn’t looking forward to much to the subject matter in this book but Kirino handles it with a careful hand not making the early life in prostitution with the rich business men for the sister and her school friend seem to glamorous, she also makes the gritty descent to street walker and the working and perverse men she meets on street corners seem real and Yuirko in particular is a character that in the end I felt really sorry for because she had it all and threw it away and the way she was murdered and how this one beautiful women had fallen .The lives are fleshed out by the fact a couple of chapter are written as if they are the girls journal .I felt this book had quite a feminist feel to it and about how women are viewed in Japan and how wrong this is sometime . This isn’t so much a crime novel as a study into the underworld of prostitution and the men that use them the murders are only a sideline in the narrative .
Have you read this book or any books by Kirino ?