People Who Eat Darkness
An incisive and compelling account of the case of Lucie Blackman. Lucie Blackman - tall, blonde, and 21 years old - stepped out into the vastness of Tokyo in the summer of 2000, and disappeared forever. The following winter, her dismembered remains were found buried in a seaside cave. The seven months in between had seen a massive search for the missing girl, involving Japanese policemen, British private detectives, Australian dowsers and Lucie's desperate, but bitterly divided, parents. As the case unfolded, it drew the attention of prime ministers and sado-masochists, ambassadors and con-men, and reporters from across the world. Had Lucie been abducted by a religious cult, or snatched by human traffickers? Who was the mysterious man she had gone to meet? And what did her work, as a 'hostess' in the notorious Roppongi district of Tokyo, really involve?Richard Lloyd Parry, an award-winning foreign correspondent, has followed the case since Lucie's disappearance. Over the course of a decade, he has travelled to four continents to interview those caught up in the story, fought off a legal attack in the Japanese courts, and worked undercover as a barman in a Roppongi strip club. He has talked exhaustively to Lucie's friends and family and won unique access to the Japanese detectives who investigated the case. And he has delved into the mind and background of the man accused of the crime - Joji Obara, described by the judge as 'unprecedented and extremely evil'.With the finesse of a novelist, he reveals the astonishing truth about Lucie and her fate. 'People Who Eat Darkness' is, by turns, a non-fiction thriller, a courtroom drama and the biography of both a victim and a killer. It is the story of a young woman who fell prey to unspeakable evil, and of a loving family torn apart by grief. And it is a fascinating insight into one of the world's most baffling and mysterious societies, a light shone into dark corners of Japan that the rest of the world has never glimpsed before.

People Who Eat Darkness Details

TitlePeople Who Eat Darkness
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMay 22nd, 2012
PublisherFSG Originals
Rating
GenreCrime, True Crime, Nonfiction, Mystery, Cultural, Japan, Audiobook

People Who Eat Darkness Review

  • Paul Bryant
    January 1, 1970
    This is a page-turner in which very little happens but a whole lot is discovered, about Japan particularly, and also about the grand-canyon-sized gulf of mutual squalor called the sex trade. It’s a sad and, well, banal story – Western girl goes to foreign parts to make some big money and never comes back. One day she walks out into the sunshine and eight months after that she’s dug up from a grave by the sea. Could that really make 400 pages of hypnotic reading?Lucie Blackman was a tall striking This is a page-turner in which very little happens but a whole lot is discovered, about Japan particularly, and also about the grand-canyon-sized gulf of mutual squalor called the sex trade. It’s a sad and, well, banal story – Western girl goes to foreign parts to make some big money and never comes back. One day she walks out into the sunshine and eight months after that she’s dug up from a grave by the sea. Could that really make 400 pages of hypnotic reading?Lucie Blackman was a tall striking blonde English woman who discovered that being an air stewardess was actually a rubbish job, wasn’t glamorous, wasn’t well paid and was making her ill. Her best mate Louise came up with an idea: Let’s go and be hostesses in a bar in Tokyo! We’ll make a bundle, you can clear all your debts and we’ll have a banging time. Come on! Lucie thought about it for a week and said to Louise – I’m up for it if you are kiddo! And she gave her notice in to BA. And they went. And they knew nothing about Japan or Tokyo or the strange sub-section of the sex trade they were joining, but they intended to learn fast.They arrived in Tokyo on 3 May 2000 and Lucie was killed on 1st July 2000.WHAT’S A HOSTESS?What did you say they were going to be? A hostess? What’s that now, exactly? Parry : “To Western ears the word sounded laughably seedy and euphemistic, scarcely more respectable than ‘escort’.”Hostess bars are a Japanese thing where the man pays an hourly rate to sit at a table and have a glammed-up female in a sexy dress engage him in conversation and pour his drinks and stroke his… ego. That’s it! No sex! No back rooms! No disrobing! Parry : “The practise of paying for female company has a long and noble history in Japan.” The girls are supposed to keep the guy there buying drinks and chatting for as long as they can. If a guy stays for over three hours it can cost over £500. And all they’re getting is chat, which mostly, Mr Parry informs us, runs to Benny Hill style innuendo-laden remarks about the colour of the lady’s pants and the size of her bosoms. Apparently Japanese male banter with foreign women is a barrel-scraping affair. Some Westerners found themselves unable to grasp the concept of a hostess bar. Parry quotes a Frenchman raving furiously : “Why on earth has she been coming on so strong to me all evening if she doesn’t want to sleep with me?” Japanese men never made that beginners’ error.Now surely, that can’t be all to hostessing? We’re not naïve! Well, no, it’s not – there was dohan. Which was a word referring to the date outside the hostess club which you went on with any client who became particularly smitten with you. The idea was that you got a free posh meal and then you brought him back to your club where he paid through the nose again. Parry : “At most clubs, any girl who pulled in fewer than five dohan in a month faced the sack. Securing dohan, for many hostesses, became an obsession and a source of deep anguish.” Dohan was not hooking, though. Hostessing was not prostitution.THE WATER TRADE (Mizu Shobai)That’s the local name for the sex business in Tokyo. Here you may patronise the following, amongst others :Lapdancing clubs(naturally)Strip joints (it goes without saying)Korean/Chinese/Taiwanese aesthetic salon (various types of happy ending styled massages)Fassyon Herusu (fashion health) – massage with a bunch of extra stuffDeri-heru (Delivery Health) – here the lady will visit you for the above in your home or hotelSopu Rando (Soap land) – guessLingerie pubs (they serve you with their pants on)Sexypubs (not here they don’t)No-pants coffee shop (for the teetotaller – we try to think of everything for the tired executive)No-pants karaoke coffee shop (in which “women without pants perform duets with the customers before, after or during relief”)Heavy duty S&M joints (let’s not go there)So, as you may see, hostess bars were the least sexual components of the water trade. There’s a whole psychological thesis to be written on why a guy will spend £500 on a hostess when there’s all the above on offer, but clearly, a lot do.A client killed Lucie Blackwood during one of these dohan dates. This one took place at his flat. He was a serial dohan-date-rapist and it seems that he just overdosed Lucie. Many hostesses on reading about the case knew immediately not only what had happened to Lucie but exactly who had done it. But they were scared to tell the police because none of them had visas and they were not confident in the police overlooking their illegal status. THE HIERARCHY OF VICTIMSI think we all know that the whiter, younger and more female the victim is, the more the Western press is interested. This is very clear. There are other classifications of victims, though – into respectable and unrespectable for instance. Lucie’s family had to clarify the hostess thing for the British press as soon as possible. If hostesses were call girls the press would have got very bored after a week, but the family needed massive publicity to generate leads (Note : in fact they didn’t, the police had figured out what happened fairly quickly, but didn’t tell the family in case someone blurted out too much compromising information, so heartbreakingly, the father and sister and mother ran around raising big money and following many ridiculous leads for 7 months completely uselessly. But in retrospect the father was of the opinion that all the false leads at least kept them busy.)So the dad wanted to meet Tony Blair to get him to pressure the Japanese PM to get the police to move quicker. Which happened. Parry says, casually, “no prime minister would meet with the father of a missing prostitute”. And later, Parry says although the superintendent would never have spelled it out, if the missing woman had been, for example, a Chinese or Bangladeshi… his interest in the case would have been drastically reduced. **For people like me who like to get their sociology from true crime books, this is a must-read. For those looking for a shred of optimism about the state of male female relations in the early 21st century, it’s a must to avoid. Four stars.
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  • Roxane
    January 1, 1970
    Interesting true crime account of a young British woman who went missing in Tokyo. At times Parry goes on a bit too much with excessive minutia but this is a fascinating look at the Japanese system of justice. Hmmm.
  • Barbara
    January 1, 1970
    In 2000, a 21-year-old English girl named Lucie Blackman - unhappy with her job as an airline hostess, deeply in debt, and wanting an adventure - moved to Japan with her friend Louise Phillips.Lucie BlackmanLucie and Louise rented a cheap apartment and took jobs as hostesses in the 'Casablanca' nightclub in Roppongi, a district of Tokyo teeming with nightspots and night life. The Roppongi district in Japan is teeming with nightspotsThe job of a hostess was to chat up Japanese businessmen and get In 2000, a 21-year-old English girl named Lucie Blackman - unhappy with her job as an airline hostess, deeply in debt, and wanting an adventure - moved to Japan with her friend Louise Phillips.Lucie BlackmanLucie and Louise rented a cheap apartment and took jobs as hostesses in the 'Casablanca' nightclub in Roppongi, a district of Tokyo teeming with nightspots and night life. The Roppongi district in Japan is teeming with nightspotsThe job of a hostess was to chat up Japanese businessmen and get them to buy pricey drinks and expensive bottles of champagne. Hostesses get Japanese businessmen to buy drinksHostesses entertaining Japanese businessmenBusinessmen are encouraged to purchase bottles of champagneThe hostesses were also encouraged to go on dinner dates with the clients, which would encourage return visits to the club. The nightspots made handsome profits by employing these female companions - many of whom were tall, English-speaking blondes like Lucie and Louise. The girls, in turn, could make a lot of money in salary and bonuses.Tall blonded hostesses like Lucie Blackman are popular in JapanHostesses can make a lot of moneyLong conversations with Japanese businessmen were often boring, uncomfortable, and inappropriate (one man would ask 'do you fart when you pee?') - and Lucie was only a mildly successful hostess. Moreover, the striking blonde didn't get invited for many dinner dates - which put her job in jeopardy. So it's not surprising that Lucie agreed to go to lunch with thirtysomething business mogul Joji Obara, especially when he promised to give her a cell phone. Sadly, Lucie never returned from that luncheon.Joji ObaraWhen Lucie didn't get back from her date on time, her friend Louise - sensing that something was wrong - raised the alarm immediately. However, the Tokyo police paid little attention. Even when Lucie was gone for days, and then weeks, the cops - who thought most hostesses were druggies on the fringes of the sex trade - didn't take the matter seriously. This despite the fact that several women had reported Obara previously, for drugging and raping them.....charges the police brushed off.Police didn't take Lucie's disappearance seriouslyLucie's divorced parents, Jane and Tim, were terribly alarmed when their daughter vanished, especially since it happened in Japan - a foreign country with unfamiliar customs and laws. Tim - and Lucie's sister Sophie - flew to Japan almost immediately, to consult with the authorities. Lucie Blackman's mother JaneLucie Blackman's father TimLucie Blackman's sister SophieWhen Tim was unable to light a fire under the Tokyo police, he used his influence at the British Embassy, and Prime Minister Tony Blair made a public appeal for Lucie. In addition, Blair implored Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori on behalf of Lucie's family. Faced with widespread publicity about the missing English citizen - as well as pressure from the government - the Japanese police made a greater effort to find Lucie. Missing persons poster for Lucie BlackmanPosters of missing Lucie Blackman were viewed by the publicSadly, Lucie was already dead. Unfortunately, the Tokyo detectives, who had poor leadership and inept investigative practices, didn't unearth Lucie's body for months - even though Obara behaved VERY suspiciously and the corpse was buried near his seaside condo. In retrospect, it seems like the cops REALLY didn't know what they were doing. (They needed more female police officers, IMO.)Lucie's body was found in a cave near Joji Obara's homeDuring all this time Lucie's dad, Tim Blackman, behaved something like the ringleader of a circus - calling press conferences; checking out Roppongi nightclubs; entertaining journalists; making speeches; organizing tip lines; and keeping himself (and Lucie) in the public eye. Lucie's family kept her disappearance in the public eyeDemonstrator's with posters of LucieTim was severely criticized for his over-the-top behavior, and for accepting a VERY large payment from Obara's lawyers - with the expectation he would 'go easy' on the suspect in public. Hard to know what Tim was thinking!In this book, English journalist Richard Lloyd Parry explores two narratives: Lucie's story, from her childhood to her death; and Obara's tale, from his youth to his trial - where he was charged with a series of sexual assaults and two unlawful deaths. Journalist and author Richard Lloyd ParryParry was able to reconstruct the lives of both the victim and the alleged murderer, using extensive research and interviews with many people who knew them. As for Lucie's killing, Parry gives a thorough account of everything that happened: the girl's disappearance; the police investigation; the arrest of Obara; the interrogation; the years-long trial; and the subsequent appeals. During all this time Lucie's mother, father, and sister traveled back and forth to Japan, and the ordeal had a profound effect on the entire Blackman family. Friends and family remembering Lucie BlackmanThis is an interesting true crime story that includes fascinating tidbits about Japanese history, customs, and society. For instance, Joji Obara's family were ethnic Koreans and - as such - were subject to serious discrimination. Korean-Japanese citizens were treated with disdain and not permitted to rise high in society or obtain prestigious jobs. Obara's parents - who were very wealthy - made their money from real estate, parking lots, and pachinko gambling parlors.....and Joji followed in their footsteps. Pachinko gambling parlorIt was also instructive to learn that Japanese cops expect suspects to confess (most do) and that prosecutors get convictions in more than 99% of cases that are tried. Thus, almost no one wants to be a defense lawyer (LOL). Nevertheless, Obara didn't confess to any crimes and went through a plethora of defense attorneys as he prepared for and participated in his trial.Joji Obara on trialFurthermore, Obara never allowed his lawyers to be in charge. He coordinated his entire defense, published a book about himself while he was in jail, and made a valiant attempt to dismiss the evidence or explain it away. This was no easy task since Obara made tapes of himself raping unconscious women AND kept a detailed log. I won't say if Obara got convicted or not....but you can Google the verdict(s) if you're curious. This is an engaging book that I highly recommend to fans of true crime stories.You can follow my reviews at https://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot....
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  • Beata
    January 1, 1970
    I rather seldom read real life stories, however, chose this one as it was on a GR Friend's list. The book, written by a foreign correspondent living in Japan, is an account of a tragedy that took place in 2000 and gives all details of it, but also provides the reader with a good insight into a Japanese society, including court procedures.
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  • Mara
    January 1, 1970
    Even after reading the entirety of this seemingly interminably long book, I'm not exactly clear on who these supposed "people" are who "eat darkness." What I do know is everything (and quite a bit more than) I ever wanted to know about the disappearance/murder of 21-year-old British national, Lucie Blackman , in July of 2000. Why, you ask, did I think I would want the ins and outs of the case? Well, for one, I like to treat myself to a bit of trashy true crime now and then. Two, the single Even after reading the entirety of this seemingly interminably long book, I'm not exactly clear on who these supposed "people" are who "eat darkness." What I do know is everything (and quite a bit more than) I ever wanted to know about the disappearance/murder of 21-year-old British national, Lucie Blackman , in July of 2000. Why, you ask, did I think I would want the ins and outs of the case? Well, for one, I like to treat myself to a bit of trashy true crime now and then. Two, the single chapter devoted to this bit of law and order in Jake Adelstein's Tokyo Vice (which I highly recommend) had me wanting to know more about the Roppongi nightlife subculture in Japan. Hostessing in High Touch Town:Author Richard Lloyd Parry goes into great detail about the background of Lucie Blackman, but a sentence or two will suffice for the purpose of this summary. She was a good student, meticulous groomer, a bit insecure, but pretty typical for anyone in that adultescent phase of life. She went with her BFF to live in Japan and work as a hostess (not as sketchy as it sounds) in order to pay off some debt she had accrued living in London. While hostessing in a foreign country on a tourist visa might sound like a euphemism for selling yourself into sexual slavery, that's really not what it is. It's certainly not something on my to-do list, but that's because nothing sounds less appealing to me than the idea of pretending to be interested in chit chatting with tired "salarymen." The nuances of the roles and expectations surrounding the "lady services" (for want of a better word) in Japan are not easily communicated (though, as I mentioned, Adelstein does a pretty great job). The Roppongi kink/twist just happens to be that the women are "western" (not in a cowgirl kinda way). It came to be known as "High Touch Town" as a result of an awkwardly phrased description of the American penchant for high-fiving displayed when military men came ashore for nights on the town. While it's not my scene, I'm pretty sure a "Roppongi" equivalent (in spirit) exists in most international cities- I'm not sure whether the term eurotrash* carries more or less negative connotation than gaijin , the Japanese term for foreigner, but both have affiliated club scenes, and that sums things up. Lucie Blackman MIA:No shock here, Lucie goes missing after one of her "dates" with a client from the club. This is followed by what may be the least reassuring phone call ever to her best friend by a man who claims that Lucie:"is studying and practicing a new way of life" after a happenstance meeting with his "guru." "Just before she got on the train she met my guru and she made a life-changing decision. Anyway, she decided to join his cult that night." As you might imagine, this left everyone feeling less than comfortable with Lucie's whereabouts. Lucie's youth, looks, and soon-to-be press-savvy family turned this into a veritable frenzy of media coverage (and, eventually, a mention by Tony Blair to the Japanese Prime Minister). Lucie's sister Sophie (pictured with Lucie below) and father tag-teamed back and forth from Japan, running into an array of stumbling blocks (all of which are carefully chronicled). Joji Obara, the Man-Shaped Hole:The perp is an enigma unto himself. He was of Korean descent which made him zainichi , a status that precludes a certain level of advancement and respect in Japan. Though abundantly wealthy, he was truly disconnected from society in every respect. There are almost no photographs of him- not even a mug shot, since he would turn away. This last third of the book was interesting in its examination of the Japanese justice system and the ways in which it is a product of cultural expectations to which Obara simply did not conform. At the same time, Obara's explanations and excuses and the circuitous reasoning of all parties involved is over-illustrated by the author, giving the book a sense of frustrating ambiguity. Parting Thoughts:Mission accomplished for an author who wanted to cover the Blackman story exhaustively, but reading it was, well, exhausting. * I'm neither promoting nor condoning the use of these terms, I'm just saying that they seemed similar to this ignorant American
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  • Michael Ferro
    January 1, 1970
    I read PEOPLE WHO EAT DARKNESS faster than any true crime book I've ever read, though, admittedly, I am not a big true crime reader.That's going to change.Richard Lloyd Parry has written an extremely engrossing, fascinating, and well-researched book that examines the darker side of our human nature. Despite being one of the safest countries on Earth, Japan was host to an atrocious crime that turned the lives of one English family, and much of the world, on its head back at the turn of the I read PEOPLE WHO EAT DARKNESS faster than any true crime book I've ever read, though, admittedly, I am not a big true crime reader.That's going to change.Richard Lloyd Parry has written an extremely engrossing, fascinating, and well-researched book that examines the darker side of our human nature. Despite being one of the safest countries on Earth, Japan was host to an atrocious crime that turned the lives of one English family, and much of the world, on its head back at the turn of the century. Parry, a reporter, knows very well how to give us the imperative "who, what, where, when, and why," but it's the questions he asks, and subsequently answers, that elevate PEOPLE WHO EAT DARKNESS to something much more than just reportage. In it, we examine how a horrific crime affects not only individuals, but nations as a whole.As I mentioned, despite being a long book, I simply could not put this one down. Perhaps it is the (un)natural curiosity I feel toward puzzling crimes of a grisly nature, or perhaps it is simply Parry's knack for telling a wildly engaging story, but either way, my interest in true crime has been piqued. If you've ever found yourself glued to a particularly dark episode of "Dateline" or "Unsolved Mysteries," then give this book a read; you won't be disappointed.
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  • Caroline
    January 1, 1970
    ***ALL SPOILERS HIDDEN***Parry’s People Who Eat Darkness stands out for an almost otherworldly quality as it exposes the darker side of Tokyo while detailing the disappearance and murder of 20-something British woman Lucie Blackman. This quality true crime novel is expertly written and its subject meticulously researched and treated with a sensitive touch.The book shines when describing various things unique to Japan, things many Westerners might find exceedingly strange. Here is an intimate ***ALL SPOILERS HIDDEN***Parry’s People Who Eat Darkness stands out for an almost otherworldly quality as it exposes the darker side of Tokyo while detailing the disappearance and murder of 20-something British woman Lucie Blackman. This quality true crime novel is expertly written and its subject meticulously researched and treated with a sensitive touch.The book shines when describing various things unique to Japan, things many Westerners might find exceedingly strange. Here is an intimate portrait of "Lucie's Tokyo," and it's an unreal, kooky place. Lucie's job there sends red flags flying like crazy--to the Western reader; to the Japanese, Lucie's job is merely another job, just on the seedy side.For the book's other big focus, Parry’s handling of Lucie’s family members and exactly how Lucie's murder affected each of them is laudable. He truly brought to life her sister Sophie and mother and father especially. He even focused generously on the effect her murder had on some of her closest friends, including an ex-boyfriend. The book is quite moving at these points; though Parry recounted Blackman’s murder with journalistic accuracy, he never did so with journalistic stoicism. At times, tangents slow the book’s pace. At about the halfway point, the reader learns about the killer’s family, which is standard for true crime books; however, (view spoiler)[Parry delved into the finer details about the killer’s brother and the kind of relationship the killer had with his brother, with the focus remaining on the brother throughout. As it turns out, the brother ends up having no relevance whatsoever to the killer’s crimes or motives. Another misstep is some author intrusion toward the conclusion. Parry suddenly inserted himself into the story by relating an incident in which he was sent a suspicious missive containing, among other items, photos of himself that had been taken without his knowledge. The missive may or may not have been from the killer. The point of this anecdote is unclear. Later, Parry forcefully voiced his opinion about Lucie Blackman’s father Tim accepting payment from the killer. It seems Parry fumbled when it was time to tie up his recounting; up until these points, People Who Eat Darkness remains journalistically objective. (hide spoiler)] Nevertheless, People Who Eat Darkness will well satisfy fans of true crime with its provocative inside peek at a shadow world of Tokyo. Riveting, sad, educational, and shocking all at the same time, this is a true crime that truly is unforgettable. Final verdict: Enthusiastically recommended for fans of true crime and even those new to the genre looking for a good book to start with.
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  • Cindy Knoke
    January 1, 1970
    This is a gripping, fascinating and thoroughly researched book. It covers the facts surrounding the disappearance of Lucie Blackman a twenty one-year-old British citizen who was briefly employed as a bar hostess in the Rappongi district in Japan. But the author with his meticulous research provides so much more than the details of this very tragic story. The author was a British foreign correspondent who has lived for many, many years in Japan and has a deep respect for, and knowledge of, the This is a gripping, fascinating and thoroughly researched book. It covers the facts surrounding the disappearance of Lucie Blackman a twenty one-year-old British citizen who was briefly employed as a bar hostess in the Rappongi district in Japan. But the author with his meticulous research provides so much more than the details of this very tragic story. The author was a British foreign correspondent who has lived for many, many years in Japan and has a deep respect for, and knowledge of, the culture. From this book you will learn so many heretofore unknown and fascinating details about Japanese cultural practices and customs, such as the common procedures of the Japanese legal system, police practices, attitudes towards foreigners, history regarding other Asians, attitudes towards “the water trade” or sex business, funeral practices, and so many more minute and fascinating details about everyday Japanese life. The book for this alone is well worth a read.But like a detective, the author Parry is meticulous. Especially compelling is the personal and family history that led Lucie Blackman to seek employment as a bar hostess in Rappongi serving drinks and conversation to Japanese businessman. The author is very respectful and sensitive to the incredible pain this family has gone through. He highlights the significant strengths of each family member, but also is factual in documenting concerning things. This dialectic brought up an interesting tension in me as a reader, between my profound sympathy for the grieving parents, countered by my frustration with some of their actions. The author’s special genius is this ability to emotionally draw the reader into the story.Jane Blackman’s relationship with her daughters was troubled. Lucie was the parentified, favorite child, taking care of her mother emotionally, and Sophie was the unfavored, vilified daughter, receiving the brunt of her mother’s anger. And her mother had some anger issues not only at Sophie, but at her ex-husband for cheating on her. She could never seem to let this anger at her ex-husband go, which was sad, and not beneficial for her children. Another concerning behavior was, when Lucie went missing, her 20 year old sister Sophie traveled to Japan with a young male friend to offer herself in trade for her sister, and her mother let her go and didn’t go with her. She fought with Sophie tenaciously years later, over memorial disagreements. These actions unsuprisingly led to an eventual enstrangement between the two. Jane Blackman’s overwhelming grief for her missing daughter was undeniable and heartbreaking, and the reader’s sympathy for her is profound, but her lack of bonding with her other daughter was undeniable also and troubling.Tim Blackman the father, kept reminding me of the American parents who recently let their sixteen year old daughter sail around the world alone, crossing the Indian Ocean during the stormy season, subsequently nearly sinking, and requiring a massive worldwide rescue. Those parents had a vested financial interest in this adventure, which they consistently denied. Mr. Blackman’s grief, I am sure was very real and horrific, and he certainly didn’t plan any of this like the American parents, but he seemed to share similar financial interests and he seemed addicted to publicity. He accepted 450,000 pounds from the rapist in return for signing a letter in support of purported weak evidence. No other family members offered this, accepted it. It caused understandable family conflict. He says of publicity, “Dealing with the press was a game, it was a game, and I enjoyed it.” He was constantly meeting with the press. He tells his daughter to “act somber” during interviews. He starts to tear up for the first time in an interview when he notices the press numbers dwindling. The author asks him about this and he says, “I probably shouldn’t be telling you this, but the tears were planned in advance.” This is a dad who ogles young strippers in Rappongi and comments on their relative hotness to reporters while searching for his missing daughter. He is a man who at the very least is out of touch with his emotions and insensitive. None the less, the author skillfully reminds us, he is also a father who has suffered a great loss, so the reader always retains some sympathy for himThe siblings, Rupert and Sophie were heroic and their reactions so tragically normal. Sophie spends months in Japan searching for her sister. She suffered constant nausea, insomnia, and feelings of unreality. She was deeply grieving, depressed, at one time suicidal. She’s sullen with the media and withdrawn. Her pain was palpable, and she comes off as heroically normal. Rupert, since younger, faced heartbreaking feelings of alienation in school, difficulty relating to people about his sister, feelings of unreality, and deep grief at his sister’s loss. He also seemed heroically normal.This is an excellent book. The author remains admirably fair, impressibly sensitive, and imparts the facts in a meticulously researched and thorough manner. His greatest achievement is pointing out the imperfection in people, while remaining respectful of them. He encourages the reader to do the same by example.Highly recommend.
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  • Paquita Maria Sanchez
    January 1, 1970
    So, a dirty little secret of mine is that I love true crime. Ever since, at nine years old, I found a book about Jeffrey Dahmer in a drawer in my grandmother's guest bedroom and read it all the way through in one sitting, I have been stuck on the idea of people who can be revoltingly awful without remorse. I have always been a person who overkills (no pun intended) on the guilt when I do something shitty (which is often, hence: nagging depression and anxiety), so the idea that there are people So, a dirty little secret of mine is that I love true crime. Ever since, at nine years old, I found a book about Jeffrey Dahmer in a drawer in my grandmother's guest bedroom and read it all the way through in one sitting, I have been stuck on the idea of people who can be revoltingly awful without remorse. I have always been a person who overkills (no pun intended) on the guilt when I do something shitty (which is often, hence: nagging depression and anxiety), so the idea that there are people in the world who not only don't feel remorse for their actions in normal society, but also don't feel remorse for actions fifty zillion times worse than anything I could ever manage in even my worst state of mind, is fascinating to me. Like aliens. Basically, to a self-flagellating person such as myself, sociopaths and psychopaths are aliens. Wow, I bet they aren't to you, though, huh? Durr. I mean, the reason they are weird is that I feel guilt/remorse more than any other emotion. Fine, that's not special. Lord, I hope that's not special...I always had this idea about Japan that violent crimes aren't really committed there because, well, violent crime is rude? Of course, there's always the yakuza and such, but that seems like more of a fiscal/power thing, and less about just indiscriminate bloodshed for ultraviolence's sake. It just never struck me as a place where random women get murdered for the sake of getting randomly murdered. Japan is my go-to when people start spouting some shit about the influence of violent films of violent video games or violent bleeblop. I'm like, look at Japan! They have way more fucked up movies and anime and _____ than just about anywhere, and, like, nobody gets murdered for pleasure there! I mean, just about nobody!But they do. And the case covered in this book was apparently a huuuuge deal at the time. An attractive British woman goes missing after moving to Tokyo to make big, fast money as a hostess in the Roppongi district. You know, like that girl in The Sea Came in at Midnight. Hang out at the bar with dudes, talk to them, flirt, no fucking. Unfortunately, a requirement of this hostess job was that you occasionally went off-site with these dudes on "dates." Again, hang out, talk, flirt, no fucking. I mean, in theory.Lucie Blackman went on one of these dates, and disappeared. It would take months--and TONS of media coverage--for her body to be discovered, or what was left of it: dismembered parts, her head shaved and encased in concrete, all buried on the beach. Sick.Her killer was, it turns out, one of those less common cases of murderous sexual sadism in Japan. Because this stuff happens to women everywhere. I was reading this book in the same week that I heard about Junko Furuta (and DO NOT look that up unless you want to hate everything and everyone, forever), and it made me realize: there is no better place for ladies. Carry a knife, learn how to use it without cutting your hand (try a watermelon, a spaghetti squash, whatev), and wield it as you walk your dog. Drink out of bottles instead of glasses at bars, and never accept a drink you didn't mix/purchase/accept from the bartender yourself. Use the CopWatch app for your own purposes, recording if someone is getting weird. Write down license plates and send them to your friends before you go ANYWHERE. Let him know you are doing all of these things. If he can't accept that or thinks you are weird, then just assume he is a serial killer. It is never the victim's fault, but let's ladies school each other in planning, just in case. SSDGM. <3
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  • Jill
    January 1, 1970
    There is something so disgustingly exploitative about a true crime novel. Someone has suffered a gruesome and unfair death, leaving a horde of shellshocked family and friends behind, and then there is an author and his publisher, recounting the story for profit, and finally there is us, the readers, who feel a wispy nebula of sadness for the individual’s terrible fate, but who mostly feel a curiosity, an excitement to know all the criminal details, the bloodier the better.Somehow Parry, a There is something so disgustingly exploitative about a true crime novel. Someone has suffered a gruesome and unfair death, leaving a horde of shellshocked family and friends behind, and then there is an author and his publisher, recounting the story for profit, and finally there is us, the readers, who feel a wispy nebula of sadness for the individual’s terrible fate, but who mostly feel a curiosity, an excitement to know all the criminal details, the bloodier the better.Somehow Parry, a British journalist working in Tokyo, avoids sensationalism and tactlessness. He simply tells the story of Lucie Blackman, a 21 year old British hostess who goes missing in Japan. If you’ve watched a crime drama or two, you know how this story ends, but Parry manages to make it gripping. He also includes fantastic academic details, such as the anthropology of hostess culture and the police force in Japan (my favorite fact: Japanese police emphasize confession over physical evidence, which leads to a huge kerfuffle in the Blackman case, but seems somewhat successful in terms of convictions; shocking statistics: in the US, 73% of defendants brought to trial are convicted, in Japan, a whopping 99.85%). But alongside his factual account, Parry delves into the grief of a family living this insane situation. His stellar, sensitive writing never weighs down the story or fogs facts. Rather, it lends much needed humanity to the true crime novel. What most elevates Parry’s account is the fact that he avoids conclusions. There is no gotcha moment where we understand the criminal’s damaged psyche, no epiphany that brings meaning to a meaningless tragedy. Parry tells Lucie’s story and ends by saying: this is one of the worst possible things that could happen to a person and to a family; even after following the case for years, I still do not know—I still cannot understand—why this horrible, horrible thing happened.A fitting ending.
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  • Sam Quixote
    January 1, 1970
    Lucie Blackman was deep in debt and her poorly paid job as a British Airways stewardess wasn’t going to get her out of it. And then the 21 year old heard about making big money in Japan as a hostess to Japanese salarymen: paid bar companions to talk to men, light their cigarettes, pour their drinks, and sing karaoke; there is no sexual component to hostessing as touching is forbidden. Attractive foreign women, like Lucie, are seen as exotic in Japan and even in the seedy Tokyo district of Lucie Blackman was deep in debt and her poorly paid job as a British Airways stewardess wasn’t going to get her out of it. And then the 21 year old heard about making big money in Japan as a hostess to Japanese salarymen: paid bar companions to talk to men, light their cigarettes, pour their drinks, and sing karaoke; there is no sexual component to hostessing as touching is forbidden. Attractive foreign women, like Lucie, are seen as exotic in Japan and even in the seedy Tokyo district of Roppongi you were safe (the Japanese crime rate is remarkably low). It sounded like a good plan, so she joined her friend Louise Phillips and set off from England in May 2000 – she would never return. Lucie went missing in July 2000 and her dismembered body was found in a cave on the coast 30 miles south of Tokyo in February 2001. How did things go so badly?Reporter Richard Lloyd Parry, who covered the Lucie Blackman case as it unfolded, recounts her abduction and the ensuing investigation and trial in his superb book, People Who Eat Darkness. On the face of it, her murder was fairly banal by true crime standards: a random rape/killing by a loner murderer with a warped view of women. Lucie just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time – pure bad luck. But Parry tells the story so expertly – not just in terms of pacing and writing skill but also informatively – that the book becomes, as clichéd as it sounds, an unputdownable page-turner. I had three other books on the go before I picked this one up and all three got put to the side while I blew through it over a weekend!Told chronologically, the book highlights several fascinating things alongside the murder: the complex underworld of hostessing, the storied racism towards Koreans in Japanese society, the very real and systemic flaws in Japanese policing, and how Lucie’s father Tim (himself quite the character) waged a calculating campaign to raise awareness of his daughter’s disappearance. Parry goes through each subject as they arise, always concisely and clearly explaining them fully, never dwelling too long on them, and effortlessly weaving it into the increasingly compelling narrative. It helped that, while I read the wiki article on this case a while back, I’d forgotten almost all the details, so I was constantly surprised at the many twists and turns events took.Parry does his best to learn as much as he could about Lucie’s killer, Joji Obara, but Obara was an extremely secretive person who nobody really knew and continued to give up nothing of himself while imprisoned, so there’s scant information to be gleaned and Parry can only speculate on his psychology. Obara doesn’t appear to be insane, just an extremely sick individual. His wealthy family appears to be quite strange though Parry only encounters one of Obara’s brothers, who turns out to be an actual raving lunatic, while Obara’s father was killed in the ‘60s in mysterious circumstances (the implication being it was mob-related).It was especially interesting to learn about the criminal justice system in Japan, particularly the absurdly slow trial process – I had no idea that it took nearly ten years to convict Obara; most high profile trials, in the UK at least, take a handful of weeks, or a few months at most! I was also stunned to discover the conviction rate in Japan is close to 100% which is just insane. As farcically incompetent as the Tokyo Metropolitan Police come off as, Parry’s observation that they’re simply inexperienced at such serious cases due to the rarity of them in Japanese society is a pertinent one. His summation at the end that includes the point that Japanese society is a safe one in spite of the police, not because of them, is a brilliant one – the culture over there is just so radically different from the west’s.Still, it doesn’t excuse how poorly the investigation was handled. The police combed the area where Lucie was eventually found before but didn’t find the shallow grave, they gave bad advice in telling Lucie’s friend Louise to not speak to Lucie’s parents (for no reason) which led to severe psychological and addiction problems for Louise later in life, and, perhaps most egregiously, they had received reports of Obara’s drug/rape crimes before from previous victims and had ignored them – they literally could’ve stopped him years before he even met Lucie if they had done their jobs.People Who Eat Darkness is a morbidly fascinating but undeniably enthralling read – astonishing information wrapped up in an unpredictable and constantly shifting narrative. I hesitate to even call it true crime as its scope is broader and incorporates sociological angles, but whether or not you’re a fan of true crime, I highly recommend this book.
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  • Nancy Oakes
    January 1, 1970
    I seriously could not put this book down once I started it. If you want to read the longer version I wrote for my blog, just click here. Otherwise, read on.In the area of true crime, when I come across a journalist whose writing isn't motivated by the sensational, or who has taken years to research his subject before publishing, I'm generally not disappointed. Such is the case with People Who Eat Darkness, a very intelligently-written book that moves far afield of the usual true crime output. I seriously could not put this book down once I started it. If you want to read the longer version I wrote for my blog, just click here. Otherwise, read on.In the area of true crime, when I come across a journalist whose writing isn't motivated by the sensational, or who has taken years to research his subject before publishing, I'm generally not disappointed. Such is the case with People Who Eat Darkness, a very intelligently-written book that moves far afield of the usual true crime output. The book is about the disappearance of a young woman, Lucie Blackman, a young woman from the UK working as a bar hostess in Japan who left on a drive to the seaside and was never seen again. While this description sounds like it could be fodder for a true-crime writer, there is so much more to this book than any average crime writer would even attempt. As Parry leads the reader through this compelling story, you begin to see that he's forming an intensely cogent account not just of an horrific crime, but an exploration of cultures within a culture, families, Japan's legal and justice system, its history, and the conflicts that arose because of this case. Although its page count nearly reaches the 500 mark, it moves very quickly, and it's another one of those books I stayed up to read because I couldn't stop.Richard Lloyd Parry, the author of People Who Eat Darkness, was on the scene as this story slowly unfolded over the course of several long years. In writing this book, he notes that he hoped to restore Lucie's "status as a normal person, a woman complex and lovable in her ordinariness, with a life before death," and he does this very aptly. Criticism for the police is also a part of his story, as are the lives of Lucie's family as he looks at how each family member tried to cope with the aftermath of Lucie's disappearance, the investigation, the trial and ultimately the loss of their beloved daughter and sister. Obviously there's way more to this book than what I can capture in a few paragraphs, but the long and short of it is that it's one of the most compelling, well-written and intelligent true accounts I've read in a very long time. The author has gone above and beyond in terms of balance, and it's obvious how much this case and the people involved have haunted him. The story itself may seem beyond belief, but it's one of the most frightening things I've read in a long while, the more so because it's true. For readers who were unhappy with the bigger scope of this book, the reality is that this account would not have been nearly as thorough or as compelling without the cultural, historical and sociological facets the author brings into the book. If this isn't your thing, well, you're always free to stick to the mass-market output. If you want something intelligently written, balanced and just plain excellent, then this book is well worth your while.
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  • Melanie
    January 1, 1970
    This was a very interesting book. It told of the murder of Lucie Blackman, some history on Koreans immigrating to Japan and some facts on Japanese culture and their legal system.In regard to Lucie Blackman, I had no idea young women moved to Tokyo to "hostess" in clubs to earn money. The book tells how her family and friends dealt with and live with what happened to her. And what happened to her is horrific. The trial section of the book got to be very long and detailed, I suppose because the This was a very interesting book. It told of the murder of Lucie Blackman, some history on Koreans immigrating to Japan and some facts on Japanese culture and their legal system.In regard to Lucie Blackman, I had no idea young women moved to Tokyo to "hostess" in clubs to earn money. The book tells how her family and friends dealt with and live with what happened to her. And what happened to her is horrific. The trial section of the book got to be very long and detailed, I suppose because the trial itself was very long (it took many years). I was getting anxious to finish although I needed to find out the fate of the man accused of this horrific crime and the many others he committed. This was my first audio book. I really liked being read to while driving. Thanks Jennifer! Without all the praise you give audio I never would have tried it. I've already downloaded my 2nd book!
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  • Laura Leaney
    January 1, 1970
    This is a weirdly engrossing account of the Lucie Blackman case. Although I was alive and reading a newspaper in 2000, I do not remember reading about the search for her - or the resulting trial of Joji Obara, the man accused of her murder. The details of the case (as they are combined with other cases/crimes/psychological depravity) are fairly grisly, but more absorbing is Lloyd Parry's examination of the sociological and cultural aspects of Japan. And although it became a little tiresome, I This is a weirdly engrossing account of the Lucie Blackman case. Although I was alive and reading a newspaper in 2000, I do not remember reading about the search for her - or the resulting trial of Joji Obara, the man accused of her murder. The details of the case (as they are combined with other cases/crimes/psychological depravity) are fairly grisly, but more absorbing is Lloyd Parry's examination of the sociological and cultural aspects of Japan. And although it became a little tiresome, I also found it interesting (sad, sad, sad) to read about the effect Lucie's disappearance and death had on her British family, who had to grapple with the odd practices of the Japanese police (odd, at least, to Westerners), the media, and two different governments.
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  • Paltia
    January 1, 1970
    When I finished the last page I sat in silent mourning for Lucie. Richard L. Parry is another journalist with an unprecedented talent for connecting his readers to the people in his books. His caring and respectful treatment of this story will remain in my memory for a long time. Parry avoids passing judgement. Neither does he come across as a writer that needs to be seen as noble for doing this. There’s no self aggrandizing here. Rather, we get a journalist telling a story that in less capable When I finished the last page I sat in silent mourning for Lucie. Richard L. Parry is another journalist with an unprecedented talent for connecting his readers to the people in his books. His caring and respectful treatment of this story will remain in my memory for a long time. Parry avoids passing judgement. Neither does he come across as a writer that needs to be seen as noble for doing this. There’s no self aggrandizing here. Rather, we get a journalist telling a story that in less capable hands might feel voyeuristic, prurient or hunting for blame. He reminds us of the meaning and beauty of life and its darker side where mindless and senseless violence lurk. His conclusions about the myriad ways we respond to tragedy, death and the nature of evil made me want to reach out and shake his hand for writing this masterpiece of modern journalism. Lucie will live in all the memories of those who read this story.
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  • Estelle
    January 1, 1970
    So many emotions and things I want to say about this book, but it's 1:30am and I need some sleep (even tho it might be hard to sleep after that). I'll come back and write a review later.
  • Carol
    January 1, 1970
    You kn0w going in that this isn't going to pretty and probably won't have a happy ending. That seems to be the nature of True Crime. People Who Eat Darkness begins in the year 2000 with the disappearance of Lucie Blackman, once a British Airways flight attendant, who comes to Tokyo to be a hostess in the seamy Roppongi district. How did Lucie end up in here? The author, Richard Lloyd Parry does a thorough investigation and reporting of the case. Like the best of the true crime writers he does You kn0w going in that this isn't going to pretty and probably won't have a happy ending. That seems to be the nature of True Crime. People Who Eat Darkness begins in the year 2000 with the disappearance of Lucie Blackman, once a British Airways flight attendant, who comes to Tokyo to be a hostess in the seamy Roppongi district. How did Lucie end up in here? The author, Richard Lloyd Parry does a thorough investigation and reporting of the case. Like the best of the true crime writers he does his research and leaves no stone unturned. There is a lot to think about here. You are privy to interviews with Lucie's old boyfriends, her women friends, her co-workers, and the men she entertained as a hostess but the most poignant are those with her family. Her mother, Jane and father, Tim, had divorced bitterly early on in Lucie's life. Jane and Tim are central components to the story, and what they do or don't do comes under heavy scrutiny. As I read, her parents often frustrate me and don't always act as I think they would. This could be the fault of the author's portrayal of them. Of course my heart goes out to each as they search for their missing daughter and wonder at her fate. My main sympathies however, are saved for Lucie's sister, Sophie, who is left to deal with the horror of her missing sister without the strength of parents standing together in this evolving tragedy. Though there is a younger brother too; Rupert, he is away at school, and seems somewhat removed from all that is unfolding. quoted from the book:"People are afraid of stories like Lucie's, stories about meaningless, brutal, premature death, but most of them cannot own up to their fear. So they take comfort in moral judgments, which they brandish like burning branches waved in the night to keep off the wolves>" Perhaps I am guilty of this. Even with the dread of knowing the eventual outcome of Luci's fate, I could not help but be fascinated by Japan's justice system, and how it differs from ours. Parry does an excellent job of explaining this. He also writes with sensitivity on a subject that is too horrible to imagine. This is not a book for the weak stomached. It is graphic telling, a very sad story of a smart, attractive, young woman, whose life is cut short by a cunning, serial rapist and murderer. I won't give him the attention of even typing his name. I'd prefer to remember Lucie Blackman.
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  • Sam
    January 1, 1970
    Disturbing ... engrossing ... very difficult to put down!
  • Vegantrav
    January 1, 1970
    People Who Eat Darkness tells the story of the death of a young British woman, Lucie Blackman, who was raped and killed in Tokyo in 2000. The early reviews that I read promised a grisly, detailed account of a horrific crime. I almost hate to admit it, but I was quite intrigued by these details: I did not recall hearing about this crime when it happened, and the title of the book as well as the reviews just seemed all too titillating to resist. I should have resisted.****SPOILER ALERT****While People Who Eat Darkness tells the story of the death of a young British woman, Lucie Blackman, who was raped and killed in Tokyo in 2000. The early reviews that I read promised a grisly, detailed account of a horrific crime. I almost hate to admit it, but I was quite intrigued by these details: I did not recall hearing about this crime when it happened, and the title of the book as well as the reviews just seemed all too titillating to resist. I should have resisted.****SPOILER ALERT****While Lucie's death was certainly horrible, the crime itself was rather hum-drum: the murderer, Joji Obara, was in the habit of taking young women to his home, drugging them, raping them, and then, when they awoke, taking them back home. Now, granted, raping unconscious women is depraved and horrific, but there is nothing all that strange or weird about this type of criminal activity: it is, alas, all too common.In his history of serial rapes, in one case prior to Lucie's, Obara had accidentally killed one of his rape victims by chloroform poisoning. It appears likely that Lucie died under similar circumstances, though an exact cause of death for Lucie was never ascertained. So, Obara was not guilty of premeditated, malicious murder. He was a rapist who unintentionally killed two young women. Again, I am not trying to downplay the despicableness of his crimes, but they are not unusual or particularly gruesome.Moreover, the title of the book suggests something very ominous and evil: the phrase "people who eat darkness" paints a picture of some macabre, cult-like group who practices strange, evil killings. Instead, we have Joji Obara, a loser who drugs and rapes women. In point of fact, the author never even tells us why he picked the title itself. Most of the book focuses not on the crime itself but on Lucie and her family and friends and on Obara and his family background. Lucie's family is completely dysfunctional, and the story of her parents' divorce and their continuing ill will towards each other even in the face of Lucie's death plays out like a bad soap opera. Obara himself is not even an interesting character: as the author repeatedly tells us, there is just not a lot about Obara that we know because Obara had, it seems, no friends at all and intentionally tried to keep a low profile for his entire life, nor was Obara open and forthcoming in providing any information on himself and his background to the author or any other journalists.People Who Eat Darkness is the story of a serial rapist who accidentally killed two women when he drugged them. It's a sad, pathetic story of the tragic death of young woman at the hands of a serial rapist, but it's not some epic crime drama. Actually, in the annals of crime, it's really a rather boring case.
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  • Hannah
    January 1, 1970
    Well crafted true crime story. Learned alot about the Japanese semi-underground "hostess" culture as well as their criminal justice system. Quite chilling at times, but what Parry did best (IMO) was in his written observations of grief in all its manifestations. Writing about how the family/friends of Lucie Blackman dealt with losing her is brilliantly penned and framed within the context of the long search for Lucie, through the investigation, the subsequent trial and the aftermath.As an aside, Well crafted true crime story. Learned alot about the Japanese semi-underground "hostess" culture as well as their criminal justice system. Quite chilling at times, but what Parry did best (IMO) was in his written observations of grief in all its manifestations. Writing about how the family/friends of Lucie Blackman dealt with losing her is brilliantly penned and framed within the context of the long search for Lucie, through the investigation, the subsequent trial and the aftermath.As an aside, this would make a good companion book with: Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China. Both are excellent true crime books spotlighting the cultural differences/biases that can occur with a murder of a foreigner in a foreign land.
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  • ``Laurie Henderson
    January 1, 1970
    For fans of the book In Cold Blood this true crime tale should be a riveting read.
  • L.A. Starks
    January 1, 1970
    Fascinating true crime story of Lucie Blackman's disappearance in Japan. From Parry's reporting readers learn about not only Lucie and her attacker, but also much about Japan itself.
  • Liviania
    January 1, 1970
    So what sparked my interest in PEOPLE WHO EAT DARKNESS, the true crime account of the disappearance of British Lucie Blackman in Tokyo during the summer of 2000? The back blurb promised cultural and psychological insight on the level of Truman Capote's IN COLD BLOOD. It touched on one of my academic interests, East Asian culture, and one of my favorite books.The comparison to IN COLD BLOOD on the back does PEOPLE WHO EAT DARKNESS no favors. Richard Lloyd Parry's lengthy and detailed account of So what sparked my interest in PEOPLE WHO EAT DARKNESS, the true crime account of the disappearance of British Lucie Blackman in Tokyo during the summer of 2000? The back blurb promised cultural and psychological insight on the level of Truman Capote's IN COLD BLOOD. It touched on one of my academic interests, East Asian culture, and one of my favorite books.The comparison to IN COLD BLOOD on the back does PEOPLE WHO EAT DARKNESS no favors. Richard Lloyd Parry's lengthy and detailed account of the Lucie case lacks the transgressive power of Capote's masterpiece. Capote offered no pretense of objectivity, instead showing great feeling for a man who committed a brutal multiple murder. Parry's book is drier and attempts for an objective tone, but there is never a sense that he sees shades of grey in Joji Obara. There is no strange, compelling beauty. There is only a sad, friendless, bizarre man who committed at least nine and possibly hundreds of rapes over the course of thirty years, resulting in at least two deaths.The transgressive, enigmatic figure in PEOPLE WHO EAT DARKNESS is Lucie's father, Tim. He skillfully used the media to create enough interest in her case to force the Japanese police to treat her disappearance seriously, but took a payment from her killer to sign a document casting doubt on evidence from the police.Parry does do a good job of creating a complex portrait of Japan. He cogently explains the water trade, the jobs perceived as forms of sex work, and the history of the Zainichi, Japanese of Korean descent. They're difficult subjects to address in a chapter or less, but Parry manages to do it in a way that should express them accurately to an unfamiliar audience. The economics of the yen versus Western forms of money during the long time period covered by PEOPLE WHO EAT DARKNESS are mentioned but less fleshed out. Interested readers can seek out more detail in R. Taggart Murphy's seminal work THE WEIGHT OF THE YEN. (Although it should be noted that Murphy's work is preoccupied with Japan-U.S. relations rather than Japan-UK.)For all the lurid nature of Obara's crimes, PEOPLE WHO EAT DARKNESS is not a lurid book. I appreciated the respect shown for the women Obara violated. But with only a few brief statements from a minority of survivors and no personal interview with Obara, there's a certain lack of drama. The book veers closest to tedium when discussing the investigation and criminal proceedings. Their are two strains of drama that enliven the proceedings.Grief, guilt, and blame tear the Blackman family apart in the wake of Lucie's death. The ill feelings between her divorced parents escalate into a war over the narrative of her life and her legacy. Tim administers the Lucie Blackman Trust, a non-profit selling items like kits to test drinks for drugs and offering services to families whose loved ones went missing abroad. Jane resents his use of their daughter's name.The second gripping narrative is the creation of a system of racism and misogyny that allowed a rapist to freely commit his crimes for three decades. He had been accused of rape as early as 1997 and a suspicious character in a woman's death in 1992, but never investigated. But while Parry is critical of the police's methods, he never questions reported crime rates. It strikes me as odd that Parry questions so much in PEOPLE WHO EAT DARKNESS but never discusses the possibility of unreported crimes when throwing out statistics about Japan's safety. His credulity is especially impressive when discussing a man who describes raping hundreds of women in his private papers, of whom less than ten have ever made an accusation.PEOPLE WHO EAT DARKNESS is an intriguing work, a thorough investigation of a crime that can offer no answer to its questions. There are tedious stretches, but it's a compelling story.
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  • Lilian
    January 1, 1970
    After I finished the prologue, I already had chills going down my spine. It was not a good idea to start this in bed/before going to sleep, since there was this "a ghost is sitting on my bed smoking a cigar" scene. I've been reading a number of dark books lately, I didn't know if I could get through another and still have a good night's sleep (being the scaredy cat that I am.) I debated immediately returning the book to the library, but ultimately decided to stick it out. I had a plan where I After I finished the prologue, I already had chills going down my spine. It was not a good idea to start this in bed/before going to sleep, since there was this "a ghost is sitting on my bed smoking a cigar" scene. I've been reading a number of dark books lately, I didn't know if I could get through another and still have a good night's sleep (being the scaredy cat that I am.) I debated immediately returning the book to the library, but ultimately decided to stick it out. I had a plan where I would read at least fifty pages a day of People Who Eat Darkness, while I also read other happier books to "neutralize" the horror. So much for that plan, because I ate (pun intended) this book up in two days.Before reading this book, I already knew about hosting in Roppongi, courtesy of a few Japanese dramas I've watched that feature hosting--albeit a romanticized version. There are also similar occupations in Hong Kong (my birthplace,) where girls would drink with customers in a bar/karaoke--though I don't think it's nearly as lucrative of a business as the one in Japan. Although the idea of hosting isn't surprising to me, I was impressed with Parry's description of Japan which was always vivid.Suspense (I See What You Did There):I wasn't sure how Parry would be able to expand a news article into 430 pages without boring me, but he did. Because of the suspenseful writing. Parry has a way of obliquely referring to something, but NOT TELL YOU THE ANSWERS. After the big criminal reveal, I was expecting to delve into his eccentric lifestyle, or his motivations, but instead I had pages upon pages of stuff about his family. It wasn't boring, but I kept thinking "HURRY UP! STOP BEATING AROUND THE BUSH, GIVE ME THE JUICY DETAILS." I was restless as Parry goes through the family roster. I breathed a sigh of relief when I found out there wasn't much information of Obara's youngest brother so I was spared at least a page or two. Hallelujah!The same thing happened with Lucie's family. A chunk of the book was dedicated to the drama between Tim and Jane, Lucie's divorced parents. *yawn*Pictures, My Greatest Fear:I hated the pictures in this book. Not that I think Lucie wasn't pretty, but because I already knew the fate of Lucie that I kept thinking of her as "that dead girl who gets cut up and dumped in a cave." Seeing her picture inevitably brought up images of a decayed, cut up cadaver. It didn't help that I took Biology last semester and the section on body farms scarred me for life. Pictures of Obara didn't bring up images of decaying bodies, but I kept thinking "oh, this guy looks friendly! He doesn't look like the type I would pepper-spray on the street at all." His aversion to pictures made him such an interesting person (it also made me wonder if he was prepping for his a life of crime all his life.) His picture drawn on the cover? I thought it was just a mean-looking lady until I read the book. It's the hair. I guess you really can't tell bad from facial features, although I keep thinking I can.The last two at the end of the book gave me a minor heart attack. Don't worry, it wasn't gruesome. It was just a picture of Lucie and one of Joji Obara on the next page. I told you I was a scaredy cat.MY REACTION during those last three pages:Whew, I'm done with the book!AHHHH!! *heart attack* THERE'S A PICTURE OF LUCIE!Okay, I think I recovered. *flips page*AHHHHHH!!! JOJI OBARA IS BORING HIS EYES INTO ME. *heart attack again* Y U DO THIS TO ME?!I wasn't expecting two pictures back-to-back. So whoever decided on the order of pictures, I hate you.Japan, Safest Country?Parry makes it a point that despite these horrific crimes, Japan is still a safe place. And therefore, there's a lack of experience from detectives in solving crimes. However, I wonder if the reason for low crime rates has to do with police not taking reports seriously (this guy raped at least two hundred of women before he was caught, what the heck? Aside from a name change, he wasn't even being that sneaky.) Or is it just the people who have reservations about reporting crimes (I know there's the whole I-can't-say-anything-since-I'm-working-here-illegally but he also raped Japanese women too)? In an effort to maintain their reputation and the illusion of a safe city, do they purposely dismiss people calling for help? Turns out the police weren't inadequate at all once they had the ball rolling.But I sure don't want to be involved in any crime activity in Japan. Who knows when something will actually be done? On the other hand, it's a paradise for criminals. It was decades before Joji Obara was caught. He wasn't even particularly a stealthy criminal, kept a mountain of incriminating evidence around, had a notebook on how much chloroform to administer like he was doing a science experiment, should've probably also destroyed his computer too. Reading how the mystery was unraveled made me think, "Damn it's really hard to bury a body" since there were witnesses EVERYWHERE (just that they didn't know the significance of what they saw.)Objective:Parry did a wonderful job leaving the topic objective. It's too easy to say that Joji Obara was a creep and a evil man. But like Tim, Lucie's father, I felt for Obara despite his horrendous crime. He was rich, but he had no friends (if Parry's guesses are correct,) his brother hasn't seen him in a decade, and seems to be in some serious denial, to the point he's crafted some ridiculous fantasy for himself. The laughable, clumsy way he tries to cover up this tracks made me think he was not only panicked, but also felt guilty. Why would he go through the trouble of making a "oh, she joined a cult!" phone call to Lucie's friend, Louise? He would later imitate Lucie (albeit very poorly) and write a "Don't look for me" letter" that would fool nobody. In retrospect, Louise should've probably lured the guy out with a fake address (he was probably trying to bribe her with money) and then have the police arrest him. I think I watch too much TV.But Still, We Don't REALLY Know What Happened:Courtesy of Obara's denial, what caused Lucie's death is still a mystery in the end. It is suspected to be a sleeping drug/chloroform overdose, but what kind is still unknown. How in the world did he get his hands on so much of it? Knowing she died of drug overdose or chloroform is also somewhat comforting, knowing that she died in her sleep and not brutally tortured to death. It is frustrating that Obara will probably be carrying these secrets with him to his grave.Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I'm not surprised it appeared on many best of the year lists. I was surprised, however, at how fast I was about to get through it. Though I admit to speed reading after the mystery was unraveled and the suspense was drained. I also admit to be utterly terrified of this book. After finishing it, I returned it back to the library along with a few other horror reads (or anything that involved dead people) I had planned for the month. I don't think I can stomach any more dark reads for the month. I need a happy book now! Reading this book also made me want to keep a diary so that if I ever disappear, people will know what's up--hopefully.On the other hand, it doesn't show in the cover picture, but the physical book looks stunning. The book cover almost looks like it's been printed on foil due to it's high-reflectiveness. I kept holding it against the light. SHINY!
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  • Jeanette
    January 1, 1970
    This book has the wrong title. It's outstanding and is closer to a dissertation for Japanese culture and criminal/justice system coupled with intense anthropology- and that title makes it seem like some kind of yellow journalism thrill sheet.There are no words to convey how aghast I feel upon this depth of understanding for the Japanese policing and trial systems. They are abominable. Not only in this case but in their very constituency and processes. In this case, the study of exact detail by This book has the wrong title. It's outstanding and is closer to a dissertation for Japanese culture and criminal/justice system coupled with intense anthropology- and that title makes it seem like some kind of yellow journalism thrill sheet.There are no words to convey how aghast I feel upon this depth of understanding for the Japanese policing and trial systems. They are abominable. Not only in this case but in their very constituency and processes. In this case, the study of exact detail by Richard Lloyd Parry over years of work and living in Japan, is superb. He grabs in each and every avenue the cognitive differences to ethnology, ethnic origins, and reality of this 2000 Roppongi district of Tokyo. 30 million people in Tokyo and most of the gaijin (non-Japanese) are in the few thousand yards of this strip. And apart from the 900,000 "citizens" of Korean ethnic origin, most of the rest of Japan is homogenous Japanese. And these do NOT have the rights and conditions of what is the understanding of native Japanese citizenship, either. As in most countries, there are stringent border, work, resident rules and permissions for all non-Japanese. What does it matter? It matters.There is such difference in cultural nuance to female/male conversation and flirting- but that is not the crux here. What is the crux is what value is given and taken. Very different from this girl's British life experience and scope of understanding. She of immense low self-esteem and "other" pleasing habits. That a women of that age can be that naïve and in such trusting numbers, is truly beyond my own cognitive believability. But it seems it is common.But what makes this book so exceptional is not the survey of Japan or the crime and extended "justice" answer to it, but the study of psychology in ALL the particulars. At least 20 particulars, and most of them are within the victim's birth family and friends on different continents. And yet again within her workplace hostess months of association and practice.Excellent work in approaching such different systems and cultures with as little bias as humanly possible, IMHO. Remember if you travel there, the police in Japan are "Mr. Go-Around" and little more than cuddly over-seers. And that 99.9% of all trials are confessions and guilt is assumed before it starts.Oh yes, this is one minute detail that might give you a peak. The suspect in more than exact time frame here; the inquiry "arrest" was postponed for days in order that the suspect and work place of that suspect not be put into "embarrassment". So they waited after seven months another 3 days to approach him at home on the weekend. This is for a man that has changed his identity/name at least 8 or 9 times. Three times before he was 18 and completely apart from original family by 15.They don't want to "embarrass" him?Also that the eventual result for this type and degree of crime! Well, he will get out in 2030. And has murdered at least 9 women on the proven low count.
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  • Nate
    January 1, 1970
    Fucked up, creepy, extremely well-written, and profoundly sad. This one’s about the disappearance of 21-year-old British woman Lucie Blackman in Tokyo in the summer of 2000. Lucie was a hostess at a night club in the city’s Roppongi district. In this context the word “hostess” basically means just being paid to flirt and be friendly with the club’s patrons, light their cigarettes, mix their whiskey-and-waters, and so on and so forth. Lucie failed to return to the home she shared with her Fucked up, creepy, extremely well-written, and profoundly sad. This one’s about the disappearance of 21-year-old British woman Lucie Blackman in Tokyo in the summer of 2000. Lucie was a hostess at a night club in the city’s Roppongi district. In this context the word “hostess” basically means just being paid to flirt and be friendly with the club’s patrons, light their cigarettes, mix their whiskey-and-waters, and so on and so forth. Lucie failed to return to the home she shared with her roommate Louise after leaving on a douhan, which is kind of hostessing job that takes place with one customer outside the night club in which they met. The day after Lucie disappears, said roommate (Louise) receives a creepy-ass call from a guy who says that Lucie has joined a cult and wishes to start a new life. Obviously this seems sketchy as fuck so Louise contacts the Tokyo police. Well, turns out the Tokyo police were not the most effective or motivated police force in the world at the time so things get more and more drawn out, complicated and plain fucked as the story goes on. The amount of sketchy characters, twists and turns, atmosphere and information on local life contained herein would hang with ANY fictional mystery/crime tale.I don’t have a ton of experience with true crime literature but I believe people when they say this one’s among the best. I could NOT stop reading this motherfucker once I got started and got heavily invested in walking the humid streets of nighttime Tokyo with the author and finding out more and more about Lucie and what happened to her. The author clearly did his research and actually spoke himself with most of the main players of the book and even became part of the story to an extent. The way he paces the story and keeps the tension turned up, again, rivals a lot of the fiction I’ve read where the author had license of total control and invention with his or her story. Check this one out if you like true crime but be warned you will probably feel super grossed out and less than satisfied with how things played out upon finishing.
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  • SAM
    January 1, 1970
    One of the first true crime books I ever read and I’d still class it as one of the scariest. Lucie Blackman worked as a hostess in the Roppongi district of Tokyo. Although this sounds sordid it’s actually more of a meet up, chat and light my cigarette scenario and I guess a chance for the men of East Asia to enjoy the company of a beautiful blonde Western Girl. At the age of 21 Blackman had gone to Tokyo in an attempt to earn enough to pay off her debts and on the 1st July 2000 she went on a One of the first true crime books I ever read and I’d still class it as one of the scariest. Lucie Blackman worked as a hostess in the Roppongi district of Tokyo. Although this sounds sordid it’s actually more of a meet up, chat and light my cigarette scenario and I guess a chance for the men of East Asia to enjoy the company of a beautiful blonde Western Girl. At the age of 21 Blackman had gone to Tokyo in an attempt to earn enough to pay off her debts and on the 1st July 2000 she went on a douhan, which is a paid date. This was the last anyone saw of her.People Who Eat Darkness is definitely a slow burner. The prologue is a brief overview of Lucie and after there is a lengthy introduction to Tokyo and it’s culture. This is important because it gives you an idea of the environment Lucie was living in before she disappeared; this in itself is frightening because it seems such an overwhelming and frantic place. There is also a creeping feeling of isolation and helplessness, which increases with each chapter. Her family goes to Tokyo to aid the authorities and drum up a media campaign but everything seemed so slow and difficult and the frustration of the relatives oozes from the pages.Parry writes this like a hopeless horror story with Lucie seemingly vanishing without a trace into the seedy Tokyo underworld and as I had no prior knowledge of the case I wasn’t sure if anyone had been charged but when the perpetrator is finally revealed you come to expect the Devil.Definitely still a book I think about, conjuring feelings of cold and dark. A brilliantly written account of a tragic death.
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  • Brendan Monroe
    January 1, 1970
    This one was a real disappointment. "People Who Eat Darkness" - I mean, that's an intriguing title, don't you agree? Unfortunately the book doesn't live up to it. Who are these "people" to begin with? In the end we're left with one guy who very likely did it. No "people", just one dude that was into some kinky shit. And no, if your ears perked up at the sound of that, chill - that's also not as freaky as some of the stuff you'll see on "Mindhunter".I'd love to go to Japan at some point, but This one was a real disappointment. "People Who Eat Darkness" - I mean, that's an intriguing title, don't you agree? Unfortunately the book doesn't live up to it. Who are these "people" to begin with? In the end we're left with one guy who very likely did it. No "people", just one dude that was into some kinky shit. And no, if your ears perked up at the sound of that, chill - that's also not as freaky as some of the stuff you'll see on "Mindhunter".I'd love to go to Japan at some point, but everything I've heard about the country suggests that it's a freaky place. The high suicide rate, rapid advancements in AI, young people who are uninterested in physical relationships, and the popularity of elder porn all add up to make for one hell of a "Black Mirror" episode.But this story is one of the least "weird" Japanese things I've heard. Maybe it's because I'm an American, but I had never heard of Lucie Blackman before. It's an interesting case, but not so interesting that I'd want to read a book about it. As a result, I sort of wish I had known something about this case before reading this book ... because then I wouldn't have read this book."People Who Eat Darkness" sounds like it should be about some kind of satanic Japanese sex cult or something. According to the "Popular Answered Questions" on this book's Goodreads page, though, this title is a reference to a Japanese phrase which associates "eating darkness" with "flirting with the dark side". Talk about a letdown ...
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  • Jill Hutchinson
    January 1, 1970
    I have mixed feelings about this book which tells the true story of the disappearance and murder of a young English woman in Tokyo and the ensuing trial of the murderer. It is almost a case study of the difficulties encountered when two very different cultures attempt to work together to find the victim and bring the murderer to account. The book is about 150 pages too long and is filled with minutiae that doesn't necessarily move the story forward. This caused me to give it a little lower I have mixed feelings about this book which tells the true story of the disappearance and murder of a young English woman in Tokyo and the ensuing trial of the murderer. It is almost a case study of the difficulties encountered when two very different cultures attempt to work together to find the victim and bring the murderer to account. The book is about 150 pages too long and is filled with minutiae that doesn't necessarily move the story forward. This caused me to give it a little lower rating than maybe it deserved.The positive aspects of the story are the introduction of the complexities of the Japanese "guilty till proven innocent" legal system; the ambiguous role of the "hostess" clubs which employ Western young women to entertain Japanese businessmen; the rather strange investigative methods of the Tokyo police; and the overall cultural environment of modern day Tokyo. These elements were more interesting than the actual mystery of the missing young woman and her family's efforts to find her. By the way, I have no idea what the title means!!!
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  • El
    January 1, 1970
    There are some cases we read about in newspapers, or hear about on the news, or see in episodes of Dateline wherein we as the viewers know with every fiber of our being that the suspect is the one who did whatever horrific crime the story is about, and yet... justice has a different way of handling it. And we all sit here and rage about it, oh, the injustice, the unfairness of it all, is the jury blind.But what it comes down, in most of these aggravating situations, is evidence, or, more There are some cases we read about in newspapers, or hear about on the news, or see in episodes of Dateline wherein we as the viewers know with every fiber of our being that the suspect is the one who did whatever horrific crime the story is about, and yet... justice has a different way of handling it. And we all sit here and rage about it, oh, the injustice, the unfairness of it all, is the jury blind.But what it comes down, in most of these aggravating situations, is evidence, or, more importantly, lack thereof.In 2000, a 21-year-old English woman named Lucie Blackman disappeared in Tokyo. The story is a frightening one, just like many like this. It's a reminder that this sort of thing can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. The author knew this case inside and out and researched the rest in great detail if he didn't already know. That much is evident. This book is a wealth of information not just about Lucie Blackman, her family, and her killer the suspect, but also a close look at the Japanese culture, lifestyle, and, most importantly to the issue at hand, the legal system. The author managed to make the reader a part of the investigation.That being said, there is a lot of information. While most of it is interesting in some capacity I still don't know if it was all necessary. I appreciate a well-written true crime book but can do without the extraneous details that seem to be added only for sentimental reasons or to elicit an emotional response from the reader. Something I'm not normally a fan of when I read.Recommended for anyone who isn't squeed out by reading about true accounts of horrific crimes, or just fans of Dateline in general.
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