Sunday, January 08, 2017

The Kingdom by Fuminori Nakamura

(hb; 2011, 2016: translated from the Japanese by Kaulau Almony)

From the inside flap:

"Yurika is a freelancer in the Tokyo underworld. She poses as a prostitute, carefully targeting potential johns, selecting powerful and high-profile men. When she is alone with them, she drugs them and takes incriminating photos to sell for blackmail purposes. She knows very little about the organization she’s working for, and is perfectly satisfied with the arrangement, as long as it means she doesn’t have to reveal anything about her identity, either. She operates alone and lives a private, solitary life, doing her best to lock away painful memories.

"But when a figure from Yurika’s past resurfaces, she realizes there is someone out there who knows all her secrets: her losses, her motivations, her every move. There are whispers of a crime lord named Kizaki—“a monster,” she is told—and Yurika finds herself trapped in a game of cat and mouse. Is she wily enough to escape one of the most sadistic men in Tokyo?"


Kingdom -- Nakamura's tenth novel -- is a thematic-sister work to The Thief (Nakamura writes this in his "Author's Afterward" at the end of the book). Structurally, it follows the same storyline blueprint as Thief, with several characters from that earlier novel populating Kingdom. While it maintains the same gritty, desperate tone of Thief, it has a different undertone to it: much of this undertone springs from its lead character's personality and her story, told from a first-person perspective. And, like Thief, it is a waste-no-words, pulp-centric and character centered story that is hard to set down.  This is a book worth owning, another perfect offering from Nakamura.

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