2 March 2010

Review: CROSSFIRE, Miyuke Miyabe

Originally published in Japanese 1998
Translated by Deborah Stuhr Iwabuchi and Anna Husson Isozaki
Published in English 2005
ISBN 978-4-7700-2993-5

The setting is urban Tokyo. Junko Aiko is an avenger, a pyrokinetist who metes out ultimate justice to those whose crimes have gone unpunished by the law. She works alone, tracking down scum whom the police have not successfully prosecuted.

The police case file about her is growing, her handiwork becoming readily identifiable but her methods are none-the-less puzzling. What sort of weapon does she carry? Why don't her victims run away? She has already been responsible for a number of deaths - mysterious fires have almost totally consumed their victims, giving the police just enough evidence to identify them, but nothing to explain how she does it.

Detective Chikako Ishuzu of the arson squad of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department does not believe what the mounting evidence is telling her. A human flame-thrower? Someone who can cause instant combustion? Ishuzu is a sceptic, not a believer in paranormal powers, and it takes another detective and a 13 year old girl to convince her.

But what if Junko is merely one of a number with similar powers handed down from generation to generation? What if there was a group who wanted to control and exploit these powers for their own ends? What if some of the police upper echelons were part of this group, meting out their own justice where they thought the courts had failed?

Told from two points of view CROSSFIRE asks the reader to believe in such paranormal powers. A cinematic quality to the narration helps you visualize Junko's targets as they burst into flames. And then Junko the stalker becomes the stalked....

CROSSFIRE is a thriller, sitting at the horror end of crime fiction.

My rating: 4.6

I read CROSSFIRE for the 2010 Global Reading Challenge.

Miyuke Miyabe has been the recipient of a number of literary prizes including Japan's most prestigious award for popular literature, the Naoki Prize. CROSSFIRE was a best seller in Japan and was Miyabe's third novel to be published in English. For the most part I was comfortable with the English translation. Other titles to look for: SHADOW FAMILY and ALL SHE WAS WORTH. 

List from Fantastic Fiction
All She Was Worth (1992)
Crossfire (2005)
Shadow Family (2005)
Brave Story (2007)
The Book of Heroes (2010)


Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - Thanks for this review. I learn every time I read one of your book reviews. I'm not normally one for crime fiction with a paranormal bent, but this one does sound intriguiing. I may just try it...

raidergirl3 said...

It was a great mix of horror, supernatural and crime. And it wasn't always clear to me who the villain really was. Great book!

Have you read any of Miyabe's other mysteries?


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