The summary sounded very intriguing and the cover was not like what I usually see when it comes to a book of the crime or thriller genre. And the fact, that the author is one of Japan´s bestselling authors made me even more curious. So I read it and here is my review. This book is the first I´ve read by the author. And to be honest I am not sure if I will continue with this series. Yes, it was very interesting to see how things are handled in Japan and how the mentality is there. But in the end, the author couldn´t live up to the expectations I had because of the summary.

The Silent Dead*
by Tetsuya Honda
Reiko Himekawa Series #1
Publisher Macmillan Publishers on May 17, 2016
Genre Thriller
Pages 304
Format Hardcover
Source Publisher

When a body wrapped in a blue plastic tarp and tied up with twine is discovered near the bushes near a quiet suburban Tokyo neighborhood, Lt. Reiko Himekawa and her squad take the case. The victim was slaughtered brutally – his wounds are bizarre, and no one can figure out the “what” or the “why” of this crime. At age twenty-nine, Reiko Himekawa of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police´s Homicide Division is young to have been made lieutenant, particularly because she lacks any kind of political or family connections. Despite barriers created by age, gender, and lack of connections, she is mentally tough, oblivious to danger, and has an impressive ability to solve crimes. Reiko makes a discovery that leads the police to uncover eleven other bodies, all wrapped in the same sort of plastic. Few of the bodies are identifiable, but the ones that are have no connection to each other. The only possible clue is a long shot lead to a website spoken only in whispers on the Internet, something on the dark web known as “Strawberry Night”. But while she is hunting the killer, the killer is hunting her … and she may very well have been marked as the next victim. 
Reiko is single and her work means everything to her. When she is confronted with a dead body and the fact, that something isn´t right in the picture she sees right in front of her, she starts to look around and to get all the pieces of the puzzle together. But she is watched very closely by some of her team members. Not everyone is happy that she does the job she does.

The author´s writing style is clear, he shows the Japanese world in a very open and direct way and some scenes are very obscene. You see things happen that would bring you here in Europe right into a courtroom for sexual harassment. 

The story starts from the first-person perspective of the bad guy and changes into the personal perspective of Reiko and her colleagues. Parted into five parts you get a really good picture of the way how the police work in Japan, how the hierarchy works and that women are not equal to men, no matter what they do. Honor is everything in this world and sometimes the power of the unknown and danger is more arousing than anything else.

The picture of women, the author created with his main figure, was not really mine. Yes, she is described as a tough woman, as a female who has to fight, to be accepted by her male colleagues. But there was not much to see of her being as tough as told in the summary. And Reiko seems to find some perverse pleasure in the way how some of her male colleagues behave in front of her. She slaps them right into their faces during she´s having lunch with them, seems to enjoy that one of them becomes very obtrusive and is almost sexually harassing her. On the other hand, she has to deal with her own demons. She got raped in a very brutal way and the shadow of that is still haunting her. 

All in all, it was very interesting to watch how the author brought her to life, how he created all his figures and the way he presented them is new and therefore different – which is good.

When I only put that book down to its thriller and psychological finesse then it was a really good book. But I couldn´t really connect with the main figure or the others. Sure, I am not very familiar with the way how men and women live in Japan and treat each other, but for me, grown-up in the western hemisphere it was a bit too strange.

Happy reading

*I read the German edition new release by Fischer TB on November 24, 2016. 

Tetsuya Honda
Tetsuya Honda ©Tetsuya Honda

Tetsuya Honda is one of Japan´s best-selling authors with the ongoing crime series featuring Reiko Himekawa, a Homicide Detective with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police. The series has sold roughly 4 million copies in Japan and is the basis for two TV mini-series, a TV special, and a major theatrical motion picture. So far there are four books in this series. Honda lives in Tokyo.


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