6 July 2017

Review #623: Blue Light Yokohama (Inspector Iwata, #1) by Nicolás Obregón

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“The rain that fell on the city runs down the dark gutters and empties into the sea without even soaking the ground”

----Haruki Murakami

Nicolás Obregón, a British-Spanish author, has penned his debut nail-biting and page-turning thriller, Blue Light Yokohama which is the first book in a brilliantly epic crime fiction series, Inspector Iwata . A tough Tokyo cop is assigned on a second hand case, of the brutal murder of a family of four in their own home with only one clue of a painting of a black sun, alongside an assistant lady detective, together who unravel lots of mysteries surrounding the Japanese culture, the in house corruption in the police department and their broken pasts, the ghosts of which are now coming alive. So despite of the resistance from his seniors, the tough cop is hard bend to catch the killer before the killer strikes again or before he is kicked out of the force.


Setagaya ward, Tokyo
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.

A Tokyoite named Kosuke Iwata joins the Tokyo PD as a homicide cop to handle the already forgotten second hand case of a former senior detective who apparently killed himself by throwing himself off a bridge maybe because of all the stress and the strain of this murder case of a Korean family in the heart of the city, right in their home by a psychopath, who took away the heart of the father of the family, only leaving behind the painting of a black sun on the ceiling. Right from the very first step into Tokyo PD, Iwata has only faced resistance from his colleagues as well as seniors, but alongside his gutsy sidekick detective, Sakai, Iwata is determined to resolve the case by catching killer. Little did he knew, that his haunting past and a broken personal life would come around to challenge him besides the gruesome mystery, that made him travel to unknown places, like Hong Kong, the underbelly of the city, the countryside and to the upscale sections of the city, and also that made him risk his own life. Can together Iwata and Sakai, despite of their undeniable chemistry between them, catch the killer and put an end to the rise of the body count?

Just like the author's fascination, Japan also fascinates me a lot, and my fascination also comes from being a die-hard Japanese cartoons' fan. So after reading the sysnopsis, mainly because of the story's backdrop, I could not pass up the opportunity of reviewing this book. And boy, oh boy, this book had me gripped right from the prologue to the very last page of the book. And not to mention, this story left me with a huge hangover with Iwata's grief, joy and broodiness and all thing and everything Japanese. And thanks to the author for taking me on a trip to my dream city of Tokyo through this incredibly riveting thriller that is bound to seep into the readers' hearts, souls and minds to imprint into them, thereby leaving them aching for more after its end. Well I definitely am aching, pinning and longing for more of Iwata's adventures. Moreover, when the story ended on a major cliffhanger, I can't wait to get my hands on the next book from this series.

The author brings alive Japan in this book, and paints the picture vividly with neon lights flooding the darkness, the chaos of the people, the sharp angled sky-scrapping buildings, the dingy alleys smelling of soy sauce, the dirty canals and the gutters sometimes coming into view in some old neighborhood, the smell of incense, the madness in technology, the energy amongst its people, the whooshing of the fast trains, the quaint and quiet countryside surrounded by hills and mountains, the traditional hanging lamps and many other tiny details that will let the readers easily visualize the city of Tokyo right before their own eyes. The authentic flair and flavor of Japan is strikingly captured by the author, and that only proves his immense love for this fascinating city. He doesn't only stop there, he also brings alive some forgotten Japanese culture, cult stories, that will let the readers experience the unseen and unheard side of Japan through this tale.

The author's writing style is excellent, laced with edgy tension and evocative emotions to not only intrigue the readers, but also to let the readers feel deeply. The narrative is engaging, rich and heavily laden with a lyrical prose that is easy to comprehend with. The one downside of this book would be its slow pace, as the story unfolds at a snail's pace and thrillers need to be a fast burner to make it intriguing. But this one dragged often. The mystery concocted by the author is tightly wrapped under layers of unpredictable twists and turns that will only challenge the readers' minds and keep them anticipating till the very last page. The mystery is more like a drug, it only keeps getting addictive eventually with the course of the story line. The twists and turns are so much demanding and complex, that the readers won't afford to look away from the book even for once.

The characters are simply brilliant, in fact, they astounded me with all their flaws and charms. The main character, the protagonist, Iwata, is an exceptionally fantastic hero, whose flaws, shattered past, that is eventually unraveled by the author, personal life drama, intensity of his thoughts, intellect, everything makes him only dark, real and honest to the very core. Iwata keeps a strong grip into the minds of the readers all through out the story line, and by the end of the book, the readers are bound to feel like they know Iwata by the back of their hands. The secondary and supporting cast are also strikingly and very well crafted out.

In a nutshell, this book is epic, it thrills, it absorbs, it challenges, it enlightens, it evokes feelings and Obregón has made it to my favorite crime fiction authors' list.

Verdict: A new crime writer on the block that we need to look out for and a must read page-turning thriller!

Courtesy: Thanks to the author as well as his publishers for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book.

Author Info:
Nicolás Obregón is a Londoner, a Madrileño, and a full-time writer. His first novel, Blue Light Yokohama, will be published in 2017 across the UK, US, France, Germany, Spain, Russia, Czechia and The Netherlands.
It was conceived two days shy of his 30th birthday while travelling on a bullet train from Hiroshima to Kyoto.
Obregón is currently working on the sequel to Blue Light Yokohama.
Visit him here

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    - El

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