Published as Tokyo in the UK
Finished: Apr. 12, 2008
First Published: 2004
Genre: thriller, historical fiction
To those who fight and rage against superstition, I say only this: why?
Reason for Reading: I'm reading all the author's books.
Comments: Grey is a young woman who is driven to find the answer to her past. To find her answer she must seek a piece of rare film taken during the Nanking Massacre. This obsession takes her to Tokyo and into the world of hostess bars and the yakuza, the Japanese mafia. Chapters alternate with Grey's present and a memoir of an old man she meets written during the days of the Japanese invasion of Nanking.
The atmosphere is dark and imposing. From the start the reader is aware of an impending doom. The mind races as we try to imagine what could be so horrible. The mounting tension is almost unbearable. Until finally, shock after shock is revealed and it was with pounding heart and shortness of breath I closed the book.
This is quite different from Hayder's first two books. The historical aspect was wonderfully done. I have a particular interest in this period, of the Japanese war atrocities (Asian Holocaust) and particularly the 'Rape of Nanking'. Hayder writes a brutal, disturbing and heart-wrenching story. The pace is also slower than in the other books but when it comes to gruesome details Hayder sure knows how to pack a punch.
I can't wait to read her next book "Pig Island" which sounds like it crosses over into the horror genre. All along I've thought her books have been somewhere between thriller and horror. The Devil of Nanking is recommended to both those interested in the Nanking Massacre and those who enjoy a heart-pounding thriller.