“All around them, it was that perfect light – existing only at early morning or late dusk. It was at its most desperate and golden, casting shadows as long as they can be, so beautiful it seemed unlikely ever to return.”
Blue Light Yokohama was much more emotional than I had anticipated. A novel inspired by the Miyazawa murders but also by Obregon’s childhood fascination with Japan, the rainbow bridge, the lyrics of the song referenced in the novel’s title.
Being new to crime fiction, I admit to being drawn to novels set in japan, yet of this genre especially I am particularly convinced on the brilliance of either Japanese or Victorian settings. Blue Light Yokohama is indeed a confirmation of this.
It’s a slow burner that doesn’t drag, 400-odd pages devoured in three days, Obregon’s prose is lyrical and elegiac in places: his descriptions vivid and the gore, a mixture of both. It’s not overdone nor does it terrify. We follow Inspector Kosuke Iwata and his newly transferred position in the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department (TMPD) and soon learn that he is running from a past which is fast catching up with him.
“Ultimately, I wanted to write about facelessness. The agony of facelessness […] I wanted to write about people in pain. About people who had lost something.” *
Not only is Japan itself the perfect setting (I don’t know what it is, but it really works in fiction; the atmosphere lulling me to a strange calm – think Banana Yoshimoto, Murakami) but Obregon’s novel is littered with references to the art world, from Dali to Hopper’s Nighthawks and “Donna Tartt’s The Secret History lay[ing] open on the coffee table.” A novel whose characterization is via the art world is always a favourite of mine let’s be honest.
An engrossing thriller and a brilliant debut, this is a series I am here for and an author I look forward to more of. Highly recommended for fans of police procedurals with feeling, readers of Keigo Higashino and general Japanophiles.
* from the Author’s Note
— for now friends,