Richard Lloyd Parry People Who Eat DarknessPeople Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo – and the Evil that Swallowed Her Up by Richard Lloyd Perry
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, an imprint of Macmillan
Review copy received at SIBA

In the summer of 2000, twenty-one-year-old Lucie Blackman traveled to Tokyo with her best friend to spend several months living and working there. One night, she simply didn’t come home, and her family and friends never saw her again. Months later, her body was found, and the investigation into her disappearance became a murder investigation. Richard Lloyd Perry spent more than ten years covering Lucie’s disappearance and later investigation into her murder. He earned the trust of her family, friends, and even the Japanese authorities, who normally are some of the most tight-lipped investigators in the world. By the end of his time spent on this case, Perry even got to know the man accused of kidnapping and killing Lucie, and determined that this man is one of the most evil people Perry had ever come across.

I very rarely read true crime, but if all true crime were as captivating and compelling as People Who Eat Darkness, I would certainly read it more! Although the book is a chunkster at almost 500 pages, I flew through this thing in no time. I was alternately fascinated, shocked, intrigued, and horrified at the events that took place in Lucie’s life once in Tokyo and at the psychopath that is Joji Obara, the man accused of killing her.

This book reads almost like a novel, in that Perry successfully helps the reader get to know Lucie, building to the point where she moves to Tokyo, and then walking the reader through her life in Tokyo, slowly getting to the point at which she disappears and then details the investigations that follow. Since the reader knows Lucie’s ultimate fate, anticipation slowly builds over the course of the book as Perry gets closer and closer to revealing what actually happened to her.

Perry also gives the reader a very detailed, intimate look inside the Japanese justice system and its many imperfections. In some ways, their system is better than ours in the United States (and I’m sure others around the world), but in other, some essential ways to this particular case, it is much worse. It was so interesting to me to learn about the way their laws, interrogations, and investigations work because the Japanese do things so vastly different from how investigations are conducted in the US. One might expect that Perry’s meticulous attention to detail could bog the reader down with facts and police procedurals, but for me, it was the exact opposite – I was fascinated by these parts of the book and couldn’t stop reading, anxious as I was to keep learning more.

Reading this book was really going out on a limb for me, something very outside my comfort zone, but it was an incredibly compelling book that I highly recommend. This is a must-read if you are into true crime, but also if you like thrillers, mysteries, and horror, because People Who Eat Darkness truly reads like a novel. Highly recommended!