2000 - 2007 Books in Translation Recommended books Thriller

Out – Natsuo Kirino

 Translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder

A few weeks ago I raved about how Sophie Hannah’s Little Face was the best thriller I have ever read – not any more – Out has leapfrogged way past her, straight into my all time top ten books.

As with Little Face, Out isn’t the normal whodunit mystery. We witness the murder very early on, and so the main question for the rest of the book is: Will they get caught?

Yoyoi is a young mother struggling to raise her two young children, and is suffering at the hands of her abusive husband. One night it all becomes too much for her to deal with, and so she murders her husband. She confides in her colleague, Masako, who agrees to help her dispose of the body. With the help of her co-workers Masako dismembers the body and hides the gruesome bits around the city. Unfortunately, some body parts are discovered and the police start asking questions. The plot becomes more complex, as loan sharks become involved, and the prime police suspect tries to find out the truth behind the crime he is innocent of committing

It is really hard to convey just how good this book is. It isn’t just that it is a cleverly plotted, perfectly paced book which is packed with complex characters and boasts a perfect ending. This book really makes you think. What would you do to protect a friend? If you were struggling financially – would you do anything to help your family? This book was so thought provoking that it became the focus of the majority of conversations I had with family and friends this week.

Out isn’t for the squeamish, as there are graphic descriptions of dismemberment and violent rape, but these images were important for conveying the situations that these Japanese women had to deal with. The vivid images I have of this book will stay with me for a very long time.

The only complaint I have is that there were a few minor translation problems. There was the odd sentance that didn’t flow properly, and a few uniquely Japanese things, which were translated in such a way that it lost some of the atmosphere for me. The recurring one being the boxed lunch, which doesn’t exist in the western world. I would much preferred it to be called by it’s Japanese name: the bento box,  as ‘boxed lunch’ doesn’t really bring across the same distinctly Japanese images it should do.

These are very minor issues though, and overall I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Cancel your order for Wilderness, and buy this instead!


Thank you so much to Melody for recommending this to me. I will be paying much more interest to her recommendations in the future.

What is the best thriller you have ever read?
Have you read any books by Natsuo Kirino?
Are any of the others as good as this one?

but most importantly….would you help your best friend hide her dead husband?!!

Recommended books Thriller

Little Face – Sophie Hannah

Little Face is the best thriller I have read in a very long time. It begins with Alice returning from her first anxious trip away from her newborn baby. She returns home to discover the front door of her house open, and her husband asleep. When she rushes to greet her baby in the nursery, she is shocked to discover that it doesn’t look like the one she left just a short time ago. No-one believes that her baby has disappeared, assuming she is just a paranoid new mother. It is only when further unexplained events start to occur, that they wonder what the truth really is….

The writing was incredibly easy to read. I flew through the pages, as I was so keen to discover what was really happening. There were many points when I thought I’d worked in out, but as with all great thrillers I didn’t get close!

This is more than just a straight crime novel, there are many elements of psychology in here. The almost obsessive behaviour of a new mother is well observed, and I empathized immensely with the central character, Alice, as she struggles with the thought that her husband may have swapped her baby. The relationships between the members of the dysfunctional family were very credible, and the interfering mother-in-law reminded me of many stories I have heard from new mothers recently.

Unlike much of the crime fiction I have read recently this contained no unlikely coincidences. The plot was as realistic as it is possible to get, while retaining many clever twists.

Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys well written thrillers, or has an interest in the psychology of new mothers.

I’d like to thank Simon for recommending Sophie Hannah to me. I will be reading all her books as soon as I get my hands on them!

2000 - 2007 Thriller

The Halo Effect by M.J. Rose

I first heard about M. J. Rose a few weeks ago, when I spotted reviews for her new release The Memorist. It was getting very good reviews, so I decided to try one of her books. ‘The Halo Effect’ also seemed to have good reviews, so I decided to fulfill my desire for a thriller by reading it.

It was a very basic thriller. Characters were two dimensional, and followed typical thiller stereotypes. The plot didn’t seem very realistic, and everything was very formulaic. The murder suspects were described one after the other, so there wasn’t much opportunity to guess who was committing the crimes, as each seemed equally likely to have done it.

It was a light read, so was good for me to read when I couldn’t concentrate fully. It was OK, but but nothing special.