People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry

People Who Eat Darkness: Love, Grief and a Journey into Japan's Shadows

Five words from the blurb: Tokyo, hostess, dismembered, fate, family

Lucie Blackman was just 21-years-old when she disappeared in June 2000. She had been working as a hostess in Tokyo and for months no-one knew what had happened to her. It was suggested that she’d joined a cult or run away with a boyfriend, but after a difficult search her dismembered remains were discovered in an isolated cave. Richard Lloyd Parry spent 10 years researching the case; interviewing everyone and gaining detailed information about the personalities of those involved. People Who Eat Darkness provides an insight into the bizarre world of the Japanese hostess and explains the legal system in the country. It is a fascinating book that must rank as one of the best pieces of true crime ever written.

The pace of the book was slow and Parry’s meticulous research was obvious throughout, but what made this book special was the way that every single person was thoroughly developed. I felt as though I knew them, understanding their actions and feeling their pain/frustration.

The book was perfectly structured. In the hands of a lesser author the story could be seen as quite simple, but Parry arranged the fragments to create an engaging book that introduced new threads of information at exactly the right time. Complex moral questions were raised throughout and I’m still thinking about what I’d do if faced with similar circumstances.

People are afraid of stories like Lucie’s, stories about meaningless, brutal, premature death; but most of them can not own up to their fear. So they take comfort in the certainty of moral judgements, which they brandish like burning branches waved in the night to keep off the wolves.

Lucie’s case was high profile and I remembering hearing some details from the press at the time, but this book revealed how little the public actually know about an individual case. I was shocked by certain aspects of the story and surprised by the number of twists and turns.

I love Japanese culture and this book provided me with lots of interesting snippets of information. I found the details about the police force particularly revealing – who knew that the symbol for the Tokyo Metropolitan Police is an orange fairy named Peepo?!

Overall this was an impressive book that will shock and entertain you. Highly recommended.


The thoughts of other bloggers:

It was a fascinating  and intense read. The Literary Stew

…a thorough investigation of a crime that can offer no answer to its questions. In Bed with Books

…a compelling and unputdownable read, that will haunt you for days afterward. A Bookish Way of Life


Send to Kindle


  1. Sandy says:

    This was a book that was a publisher favorite at SIBA. It made my true crime-loving heart zing! I’m putting this on the “have to read” pile for sure!

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, I’m sure you’ll love this book – those publishers at SIBA have good taste :-)

  2. Caroline says:

    I’m not much of a true crime reader but this sounds very interesting. I can imagine we don’t hear a lot of what happened and how the investigation moves forward. And I’m interested in Japanese culture too.

    1. Jackie says:

      Caroline, I used to read quite a lot of true crime, but most of it becomes quite similar after a while. This stands out from the crowd. The Japanese aspects really added to it, but the best thing about this book is the insight into the people involved. Humanising a crime makes a big impact.

  3. Kailana says:

    You read such interesting sounding books that I have never heard of! It is not a genre I read a lot of, but it does sound gripping.

    1. Jackie says:

      Kailana, I’m finding that my reading tastes are broadening and through book blogs/twitter I keep discovering amazing new books I hadn’t heard of. It is nice I’m able to draw the best to your attention. I hope you give this one a try – it is very gripping!

  4. Jenners says:

    True crime isn’t usually my thing but you make such a strong case for this. And I can’t imagine a fairy symbol inspiring much confidence in the police! What an interesting tidbit.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenners, I don’t read much true crime any more, but this one is worth bending any rule for. I’m sure you’ll find it fascinating.

  5. Mrs. B says:

    Great review! Thanks for linking my blog. I really enjoyed this one as well andit will probably make my top ten of the year list.

    1. Jackie says:

      Mrs. B, This one is going to be in my top 5 for the year – glad to hear it will make your list too.

  6. This is the first time I have come across this title. It has been a long time since I read true crime but you have caught my attention with this title – what a powerful excerpt.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jo, There are loads of powerful sections in this book – one of the reasons I love it so much. I’m sure you’d enjoy it too.

  7. parrish says:

    Seen this about a few times now & it seems to get good comments.

    1. Jackie says:

      The only complaints I’ve seen have been about it being too detailed – not something I worry about! I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

  8. kimbofo says:

    As you know, I love a good narrative true crime story, so thanks for tipping me off about this one on Twitter. I think you are right — it sounds like something I’d appreciate. I’ve added it to my wishlist.

    1. Jackie says:

      Kim, I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.

  9. mee says:

    I recently read an article about this, and then I read this review. Great to know it got your nod of approval so I’m adding this to my wishlist now!

    1. Jackie says:

      Mee, I think you’d really enjoy this one. I hope you find time to read it soon.

  10. John Braine says:

    Finished this a few weeks ago but only got around to writing a review.

    You had me (with your review) at the first paragraph. And I didn’t want to read another word until I read it myself. Amused to see that we both recognized how well structured it is.

    Fantastic read.

    1. Jackie says:

      John, I’m so pleased that you enjoyed it. I don’t think I’ve ever been as impressed by the structure of a book before either. Henrietta Lacks is one of the few non fiction titles I’ve also loved. Let’s hope we can find a few more next year.

  11. Glad I came and looked after your comment on my review. Great review. I love your quote about people taking “comfort in the certainty of moral judgements” to allay their own fear. I keep telling myself that next time I WON’T judge the minute I hear something shocking or incomprehensibel (to me)

    1. Jackie says:

      Whispering Gums, That’s a great attitude to have! It’s so hard not to judge, but it is amazing what goes on behind the surface!


  1. My Favourite 2012 Reads – Farm Lane Books Blog
  2. 2012 Review Extravaganza: Pt. 7 | Life…With Books
  3. People Who Eat Darkness – The Fate of Lucie Blackman by Richard Lloyd Parry | JoV's Book Pyramid
  4. In the Time of Madness by Richard Lloyd Parry – Farm Lane Books Blog
  5. A Mother’s Reckoning by Sue Klebold – Farm Lane Books Blog
  6. The Adversary by Emmanuel Carrère – Farm Lane Books Blog

Leave a Reply to Jackie