Greville St Bookstore

The Tokyo Trilogy Part II
October 11, 2009, 6:01 am
Filed under: Literature

by David Peace
pb $32.99

I have been a huge David Peace fan since crucifying myself on The Red Riding Quartet (now filmed for British Channel 4 as The Red Riding Trilogy and available on DVD) at a rate of one per week. Peace’s high octane exposure of police corruption, collusion, conspiracy and cover-ups in the four novels based around the Yorkshire Ripper murders in the 1970s and 80s reads like a British James Ellroy. Dark, savage and brutal; experimental, repetitive and rhythmic; Peace’s style would not appeal to everyone, especially not if you’re after an easily apprehensible, simple narrative in the thriller genre. In fact, I have wondered whether Peace would get published if his themes were not so unremittingly violent.

With a move to Tokyo in 1994, Peace has proceeded to do for Japan under US military occupation what The Red Riding Quartet did for Yorkshire in the prelude to Thatcher’s government. The first in the projected Tokyo Trilogy, his formidable Tokyo Year Zero, is based around the true story of serial killer Yoshio Kodaira, and follows the gradual breakdown of the central investigating detective. Part two, Occupied City, is again inspired by a true incident, the horrifying mass murder by cyanide poisoning of staff at the Teigin Bank in Tokyo in 1948. Peace acknowledges his dept to Rashomon and In a Grove by Akutagawa Ryunosuke, for the structure of Occupied City. Like these two stories his novel examines the nature of ‘truth’ from the viewpoint of all witnesses and invested parties: the victims’, investigator’s, suvivor’s, an American scientist’s, a medium’s, journalist’s, business man’s, a Russian soldier’s, the honest detective’s, the condemned man’s, the real killer’s, the mourner’s. In a circle of twelve candles, a seance is conducted summoning each ‘ghost’, who tells his version of events — by documents, diaries or rants — until a synchronicity of views reveals more of the case and circumstances.

Once again Peace has created false heroes and vulnerable anti-heroes, excruciating deaths and even worse lives, an environment of suspicion and self-interest, all predicated on the horrors that men inflict on each other and then attempt to deny.

—reviewed by Rata


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