cover image Evil and the Mask

Evil and the Mask

Fuminori Nakamura, trans. from the Japanese by Satoko Izumo and Stephen Coates. Soho Crime, $14.95 trade paper (350p) ISBN 978-1-616952-12-9

At the outset of this bleak, melancholy stand-alone from Nakamura (The Thief), 11-year-old Fumihiro Kuki learns from his father, Shozo, that he’s next in the family dynasty to become “a personification of evil.” Fumihiro is to become not just a mere assassin but a true monster: someone able to foment civil war in a small country, sell arms to both sides, and then rebuild the nation’s infrastructure using the Kuki family’s strong military-industrial ties. Shozo threatens to debauch Kaori, Fumihiro’s beloved adopted sister, if he doesn’t cooperate. Fumihiro’s subsequent obsession with and desire to protect Kaori, his ideal of goodness and purity, forms the crux of this novel that deals with basic questions of good and evil, guilt and remorse. Cryptic detectives, smoky nightclubs, and murky streets in Japanese suburbs add to the noir sensibility. At times bizarre, at times hallucinatory, the story is always provocative. (June)