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Thursday, 16 April 2015

‘Confessions’ by Kanae Minato

Published by Mulholland Books,
14 August 2014.
ISBN: 978-1-444-73245-0

On Yuko Moriguchi’s last day of teaching school, she decided to tell her pupils why she’s leaving. It’s not completely because of the tragic death of her four-year-old daughter in the school pool; it’s because the two child-killers are in the classroom, listening to her. But her revenge soon spins out of control ...

This elegantly-crafted thriller keeps you hooked from the first page. It’s constructed as a series of confessions by people who are given nicknames, ‘The Saint’, ‘The Martyr’ and so on, so that you only gradually realise who the speaker is, and what part each played in Moriguchi’s daughter’s death. The theme of the novel is how society reacts to murder committed by juveniles; Moriguchi is critical of this in her opening ‘confession’, and we are gradually shown the motivation of the criminals.  We don’t sympathise with them, but we learn to understand them. The characterisation is vividly done, and while these Japanese teenagers lead a life very different to ours, we can identify with their emotions.  Although you know what happened from the start, there are a number of surprises, and the book ends with a beauty of a final twist. The film reflects the plot and mood very well, although it ends with a contradictory last sentence.

Elegantly crafted, full of insight into the characters, and an interesting meditation on a topical theme. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

 Kanae Minato was born 1973 in Innoshima Japan. She started writing in her thirties. Her first novel Confessions became a bestseller and won the Japanses Booksellers Award.

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

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