Saturday, February 06, 2010

Shadow Family, by Miyuki Miyabe

(hb; 2001, 2004: sequel to Crossfire. Translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter)

From the inside flap:

"Police investigating the double murder of a middle-aged company employee and his college-age girlfriend discover email correspondence linking the victim with members of an online fantasy family, in which he plays the part of 'Dad.' Meanwhile, his real-life teenage daughter is assigned police protection after complaining of being stalked. The investigation focuses increasingly on the shadow family, as there is evidence that the members had emerged from the chat room and started meeting up offline.

"Veteran Desk Sergeant Takegami finds himself unexpectedly in the center of the investigation after his colleague is hospitalized. Adding to his surprise, he is partnered with his old friend Chikako Ishizu after a break of fifteen years. Working on a hunch, they collaborate to unravel the fine line between fantasy and the harsh reality of murder."


Review:

Shadow Family is set four years after pyrokinetic case of Crossfire.

Miyabe utilizes her word-spare, fast-moving, character-focused writing style, one that keeps Crossfire readable.

What ruins this otherwise solid novel is the play-like structure that frames the tale (it's mostly set in a police interrogation room). While it must have been interesting to skeleton the novel this way, it makes the identity of the bad guy(s) evident early on.

Disappointing, predictable work from an excellent writer. Read this only if you're a Miyabe completist.

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