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Friday 30 March 2018

‘Seventeen’ by Hideo Yokoyama

Published by Riverrun,
8 February 2018.
ISBN: 978-1-78648-460-4

When an air disaster of unprecedented scale occurs in the North Kanto Times area, veteran reporter Yuuki and his team are galvanised into activity. Seventeen years on, Yuuki looks back at that feverish time which changed his life.

As he explains in the foreward, this intense novel uses Yokoyama’s own experience as a journalist investigating this real-life crash. We’re taken behind the scenes as the journalists make decisions about headlines, and agonise over using what could be a major scoop, if their informant is reliable. Yuuki’s intense involvement with his job, and his fatherless childhood, mean he has difficulty relating to his family, particularly his son, Jun. However, also seventeen years ago, his climbing friend Anzai was injured in an unexplained accident, and Yuuki has become closer to his own son through his easier relationship with Anzai’s son, Rintaro.

 In the present day sections, Yuuki and Rintaro are climbing the peak of Tsuitate together. The in-depth protrayal of a Japanese newsroom is fascinating, and Yuuki’s journey through his past absorbing, but it’s hard to call this a crime novel. The secondary storyline of Anzai’s accident is slight, and although the later stages of the novel reflect on the difference between ‘big lives’, which demand news coverages, and equally important ‘little lives’ which get only a paragraph, and on the culpability of JAL, there’s no over-riding criminal storyline.

An absorbing character-driven novel set in a Japanese newsroom at a time of a real-life air disaster.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

Hideo Yokoyama was born in 1957. He worked for twelve years as an investigative reporter with a regional newspaper north of Tokyo, before becoming one of Japan's most acclaimed fiction writers. His first novel to be translated into the English language, Six Four, was a Sunday Times bestseller in hardback and paperback, became the first Japanese novel to be shortlisted for the CWA International Dagger, was named in the Crime and Thrillers of 2016 roundups in each of the Guardian, Telegraph, Financial Times and Glasgow Herald, and has since been translated into thirteen languages worldwide.

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.

Click on the title to read a review of her recent book Death in Shetland Waters

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