I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Last Winter We Parted by Fuminori Nakamura
Published by Soho Press on October 21, 2014
Genres: Japanese literature, Mystery
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Famous photographer Kiharazaka stands accused of murdering two women - by burning them alive. A young writer is commissioned to write a book on the case. It doesn't take long for those involved in the case to tell him straight out: There's no way you are capable of writing a book about us.
There’s a few aspects to this book and how I feel about them differs strongly.
Story? Good. Twisted, but good.
Characters? What can I say.
Style? Eh. Gets better throughout the book.
Structure? Confusing. Excellent.
So yes. Overall, I don’t feel negative towards this book. I really enjoyed the story, with its twists and turns. The story unfolds at a nice pace – but never quite the way you expect it to – yet there’s a feeling of suspense. It is pretty sick, dark, twisted…. but that’s how I like my crime /confession
The book is made up mostly of a combination of the young writer’s point of view, and pieces from an ‘archive’: most of them letters the photographer has sent while in prison. This gets a bit confusing, but by the end of the book the structure makes sense. I’m not the biggest fan of the final revelation, but that’s not what made this book so enjoyable anyway. The structure however..! The structure is the winner in this book, it works.
As for the characters… You’d expect to learn more about them, from those different perspectives. I was disappointed to find we don’t really get to know anyone, and while there are motives enough (motives for everything, basically) they seem shallow. Overall… I mostly wish this book was a bit longer. It’s too short to go any deeper into the story, the motives, and the characters, which is a pity. It could have been twice as long and much better. There’s great potential but something is lacking.
Now, I read an eARC of this book and the book isn’t published until October, meaning many things can still change. I’m still not sure if some things in this book, some of the edits, were on purpose or honest mistakes. And some of the conversations were confusing and it was unclear who was talking. The style felt a bit weak at some moments, was good for most of the book, and awesome for the middle part.
So yes. Mixed feelings, but I did enjoy the book and I don’t regret reading it for a second.