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The Earthquake Bird

3.53  ·  Rating Details  ·  383 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
The stunning, prize-winning first mystery from the author of When Nights Were Cold
Paperback, 257 pages
Published November 26th 2007 by Picador (first published January 1st 2001)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 751)
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Tim The Enchanter
More Confused than Clever - 2 Stars

This was a book of confusion. It was filled with confused characters, it seemed confused as to what genre it wanted to be and I am confused as to why the terrible books are written by the CWA award winners for best new authors.

Plot Summary

Lucy is British. Lucy escaped her life by going to Japan. Lucy is morose. Lucy is obsessive. Lucy has friends and Lucy loses friends. Maybe Lucy killed her friends.

My Take

I thought this book was a hot mess. For the mos
Lucy Fly is a translator who has lived and worked in Japan for ten years. The story opens as she is taken into questioning by police about the murder of her missing 'friend', Lily - although it soon becomes apparent that Lily wasn't quite as much of a friend as she may have appeared. Lucy's narrative looks back on her life in Japan: how she came to be there, the development and, in some cases, demise of number of friendships including her acquaintance with Lily, and her relationship with her lov ...more
May 03, 2012 Susan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This haunting novel is set in Tokyo and concerns the arrest of Lucy Fly, a British translator who has lived in Japan for ten years, for the murder of a British aquaintance of hers, Lily Bridges. This is not really a crime novel though, in the traditional sense. It strays more into the lit fiction genre, as Lucy recounts the story of her life, her relationship with Lily and her obsessional love for Teiji, who she finds taking photographs in the street one day.

Lucy is keen to leave Britain and has
Nov 25, 2009 Alan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alan by: Jessica Treat
Shelves: novels, read-in-2009
another unreliable narrator from Yorkshire (after just finishing God's Own Country)... An economic, taut murder mystery set in Tokyo though, so nothing like GOC. I don't want to say too much about it because least known the better but you know it's going to be unusual when the suspect starts refering to herself in the third person. Lucy was even less attractive as a teenager than she is now. And states that as a student she lived on sperm and alcohol. A high intake of both.
An absorbing, thrillin
Rita Aoun
Aug 05, 2014 Rita Aoun rated it it was ok
I would give this book 2.5 stars if I could. It wasn't more than okay, but it had some interesting bits.

First, I felt the title was forced on the book. The writer mentioned the possibility of a bird that might be singing during earthquakes - and who may not even exist - like twice throughout the whole book. I didn't feel it was relevant, unless it's a sign that the narrator was mad, in which case it was unnecessary. Lucy had bigger issues than possibly hearing a nonexistent bird.

Speaking of Lucy
Nov 27, 2012 Lissibith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel, detective
What an incredible book. I got it from a yard sale - not bought there, but it was left over after the sale and was just given to me - and I just put it away for years thinking that no book obtained in such a manner could possibly be worth very much.

Boy was I wrong.

I found the book to be gripping and deeply atmospheric,, really getting into the head of its main character without presuming to explain everything. Sometimes Lucy doesn't make sense. Sometimes she contradicts herself. Her feelings and
Feb 20, 2015 Kerri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This eerie, literaryish crime novel is told in first person by Lucy Fly, a British expat living in Tokyo, who works as a translator of technical instructions. The novel opens with Lucy being taken in for questioning about her friend Lily's recent murder. Woven between the questioning scenes are flashbacks to Lucy's childhood, as well as flashbacks to the weeks leading up to Lily's murder. This is atmospheric and very well done. Lucy is an intriguing character, and Jones creates a powerful sense ...more
May 20, 2014 Val rated it really liked it
Shelves: discuss-it
This is a character study not a mystery and, as a character study of a lonely woman, it is well done.
Lucy does not let many people get close to her and is reluctant to get close to others, so it is not surprising that she is lonely. She did
have a rotten childhood, completely starved of affection and feeling guilty about her brother's death. However, she has run all the way to Japan to escape that, so it is sad that she keep pushing away anyone who tries to get close, and obsessing about someon
Sep 02, 2013 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
What an intriguing crime story - nothing like any crime I've read before. The crime is very much secondary to the character telling us of the events. The story starts off with Lucy being arrested and, while she is being interrogated, she tells of her life and events leading up to the crime. Some readers will hate the ending - I loved it - and I won't say more about it than that. Hard to believe this was the author's first novel. Not only that, she won an award for it. Beautifully written and the ...more
So, it's the tale of Yorkshire lass (hurah!) Lucy Fly, who is living in Tokyo and working as a translator. She's a bit messed up and a bit of a lone wolf. She's also our narrator, and proves her confussion by sometimes narrating in the first person, and at other times referring to herself in the third person. It's a quiet but unsettling little mystery and Lucy's awkwardness fits it well.

The book starts off with the police coming for her as they are investigating the murder of a British ex-pat, L
Mar 06, 2014 Carolin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Um einen Mord herum wird das Leben von Ausländern in Japan und die traurige Biographie einer "ein bisschen eigenartigen" Engländerin in Tokio erzählt. Es ist ein spannendes Buch und doch ist es eher eine Gesellschaftsstudie, eine nachdenkliche Betrachtung eines irgendwie tristen, aber zugleich aufregenden Lebens, als ein Krimi.

Der Schreibstil hat mir außerordentlich gefallen und bei den Einsprengseln wie onzen, udon, soba, shibuya, kagoshima, sakurajima, etc. und kleine Fetzen japanischer Floske
May 19, 2014 Andrew rated it liked it
I quite liked this Japanese-set crime novel and found it an engaging read, but there were a couple of things which disappointed and in fairness I would have given it 2.5 stars rather than 3 (and 2 seemed rather mean).

Lucy has been working in Japan for some time, fleeing her disfunctional family, and has embarked on a relationship with Teiji which comes undone when another English expat, Lily, enters the scene. Lily is also fleeing from the UK, and although there are similarities between the two,
Mar 27, 2013 Deanne rated it really liked it
Shelves: crimethriller
Mesmerising, a book that captures at the start with a mystery, the fact that it's set in Tokyo but centers around two english women, one newly arrived. The police investigation is not really covered, instead the reader is presented with Lucy's version of events. As you get deeper into the story you begin to wonder what the truth is and how it will all end.
Aug 30, 2015 Joodith rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What a strange story this is: British ex-pat Lucy Fly has lived in Tokyo for ten years and works as a translator; she befriends Lily, another Brit newly arrived in Tokyo. Her lover – she hesitates to use the word “boyfriend” is Teiji, an amateur photographer, about whom Lucy is quite possessive.

The book opens with Lucy being questioned, and not for the first time, about the murder of Lily; as Lucy was the last known person to see her alive she becomes the main suspect. Why, then, is she so reti
May 09, 2012 Kelly rated it really liked it
This novel is set in Japan and the main character Lucy Fly is a English translator who has lived in Japan for ten years. The beginning of the book sees Lucy arrested for murder the murder of Lily Bridges her English friend, a friend who she took under her wing in Japan.
Central to the story is Lucys obsessive relationship with Teiji who always has a camera and lives his life through his photographs but is there enough room for three in this relationship?.
Lily herself is in Japan escaping a stalki
Jayne Charles
Aug 06, 2011 Jayne Charles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This wonderfully atmospheric book had me turning the pages at lightning speed, finishing in less than 24 hours. A shortish book but not a sentence is wasted. This is clearly an author who understands how to make the reader interested in her characters, and how to move the plot along rapidly whilst maintaining suspense.

In the novel, we meet Lucy, a thirtysomethig Brit living in Tokyo. She has moved to Japan following an unhappy upbringing, has learned the language and immersed herself in Japanes
Jan 26, 2013 Joj rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The main character was too bizarre and obsessed with herself to be empathised with, and this self absorption is probably the reason why most of the other characters in the book were severely underdeveloped and the author had to resort to cliché or repetition to characterise them. For example, Natsuko repeteadly commenting that things would make her 'happy for ever', which quickly became grating, as did Lily's over the top Yorkshire/British-ness.

My biggest problem with the novel was Lucy's insist
Lucy Fly left home as soon as she was able and found herself in Japan, as far away as one can get from England. She lives and works there as a translator. As the novel opens, Lucy is arrested on suspicion of murder. As the police interrogates her, Lucy narrates her life story to the reader.[return][return]She left immediately after college, without bothering to inform her family. Not that they cared anyway; her mother was expecting another boy and lost interest when she saw that her newest child ...more
Vanessa Di Stefano
This is a beautifully written, haunting novel...although it seems that not much happens, you get sucked into the protagonist's life and thoughts and find yourself tumbling and slipping through her life story with little to hold on to. Sometimes it feels like a torrent, others like a gently bobbing river, but always, always moving. A story that stays with you long after you have put it down.
Truly enjoyed this book, though towards the end I felt the suspense loosening--basically, I'd guessed who the real killer was way before it would have been necessary to guess, if author had only made a better job of sustaining suspense in regards to that character's (don't want to create plot-spoilers) whereabouts. The ending, therefore, though compelling wasn't exactly surprising. The best bit I got from the novel is the sense that in reality the protagonist is not so much strange or disturbed ...more
Feb 08, 2016 Bachyboy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A strange book, set in Japan and telling Lucy's story of her love affair with Tieji and a murdered girl, whose death Lucy is accused of. There is a darkness to this book and the novel is written leanly yet in a compelling way.
Apr 13, 2016 Erika marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Ich habe ein Buch bei registriert!
Jen Wong
Aug 16, 2015 Jen Wong rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookgroup
The main character sometimes refers to herself in the third person. It's distracting. She didn't do it. I never thought she did. Good read
Jul 23, 2008 sisterimapoet rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-2008
I nearly didn't read this book as a lot of the cover blurb seems to pitch it as a crime novel, but for me it was far better than that.

It told a story of a girl who seems to attract death wherever she goes. Through some strange anecdotes she shares her life leading up to the death of a friend in Tokyo.

It was good to see Japan portrayed through the eyes of a naturalised visitor from England. Jones seemed to capture well the differences between natives, people just arrived, and those that have li
Lake Oz Fic Chick
When the dismembered body of a woman is found floating in Tokyo Bay, expat British translator Lucy Fly is arrested for the murder of her friend and fellow countrywoman Lily Bridges. The reader is privy to the inner workings of Lucy’s mind as she is questioned by the police. Bit by bit, beginning with the details of her unhappy childhood, it becomes increasingly apparent that Lucy is a maladjusted loner whose obsession with her restaurant-worker boyfriend has led to the disappearance and probable ...more
Songül Soysal
Jan 09, 2016 Songül Soysal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Çok çok çok acayip. Sıradan cinai değil. Farklı. Hassas.
Jul 29, 2014 Alison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Intriguing from start to finish. Very enjoyable book
This book could use some serious editing
Dec 27, 2013 Viktoria rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What an extremely long and boring book. Very little exciting, and as others have written, why couldn't we get to know more of why Teiji took his photos, why has the other characters in the book been told so little about.. The main character Lucy was in my eyes and understanding very self centered, talking in third person and hard to emphasize with. Of course the whole story had to end in a clichè. Those two hundred pages took me forever to read. Also I never really got any picture of Lucy, the l ...more
Gemma Purple
May 28, 2014 Gemma Purple rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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"Susanna Jones was born in Hull in 1967 and grew up in Hornsea in East Yorkshire. She studied drama at Royal Holloway, University of London and then spent several years abroad, including two years in Turkey and five years in Japan. She taught English in secondary schools, language schools, a steel corporation and worked as an assistant editor and presenter for NHK Radio.

In 1996 she studied for an
More about Susanna Jones...

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