This true crime book reads like a crime novel. Even though we know the basic story of Lucie Blackman from newspaper reportage at the time, People Who Eat Darkness is a page turner. Lucie went to lunch with one of her clients, who promised her a mobile phone, and then disappeared.
Lucie Blackman went to Tokyo with her friend Louise Philips in order to clear her debts as well as getting away from her mother. She worked as a hostess in a bar called Casablanca in Roppongi, an infamous district of Tokyo. We learn about the life of a hostess, which is, on the face of it, to sweet-talk and pour drinks for ‘salarymen’ relaxing after work.
The book is written in six sections. The first part gives us a picture of Lucie's early life and personality. The second section covers her experiences of Japan and the Roppongi district. A section covers the tortuous trial of Joji Obara. But this is also the story of the Blackman family, fractured by Lucie’s disappearance, the search, discovery of her body, the trial and eventual conviction of her killer, Obara. It took the police and courts a decade to convict Obara. He was never found guilty of actually killing Lucie, only for the rape, the evidence being circumstantial. At the same time he was charged and convicted of rape, leading to death of other young women. One such girl was Carita Ridgway, the ineptitude of the police in her case is unbelievable, they could have arrested Obara years before, and Lucie would have been alive today.
Lloyd Parry gives us an insight into Japanese culture and he writes with empathy of Lucie, her family and Tim Blackman, her father, in particular. He comes across as an interesting character, his behaviour appears to be baffling at times; the same goes for her friend Louise Philips.
Parry has done impeccable research, talked with all the people involved in this tragic story over a considerable amount of time giving us a well-balanced view. Disappointingly for me, I would like to know more about Louise Philips. Also Parry was unable to talk to Obara or members of his family and we get no real satisfying insight to the man.