People Who Eat Darkness: The Fate of Lucie Blackman
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People Who Eat Darkness: The Fate of Lucie Blackman

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  4,841 ratings  ·  783 reviews
An incisive and compelling account of the case of Lucie Blackman. Lucie Blackman -- tall, blonde, and 21 years old -- stepped out into the vastness of Tokyo in the summer of 2000, and disappeared forever. The following winter, her dismembered remains were found buried in a seaside cave.

The seven months inbetween had seen a massive search for the missing girl, involving Ja...more
Hardcover, 404 pages
Published March 7th 2011 by Jonathan Cape (first published December 28th 2010)
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In Cold Blood by Truman CapoteMidnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John BerendtAssuming Names by Tanya ThompsonHelter Skelter by Vincent BugliosiThe Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
True Crime--Well Written
8th out of 163 books — 130 voters
Beautiful Ruins by Jess WalterThe Round House by Louise ErdrichBring Up the Bodies by Hilary MantelBehind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine BooThis Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz
New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2012
38th out of 100 books — 447 voters


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Community Reviews

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Paul
This is a page-turner in which very little happens but a whole lot is discovered, about Japan particularly, and also about the grand-canyon-sized gulf of mutual squalor called the sex trade. It’s a sad and, well, banal story – Western girl goes to foreign parts to make some big money and never comes back. One day she walks out into the sunshine and eight months after that she’s dug up from a grave by the sea. Could that really make 400 pages of hypnotic reading?

Lucie Blackman was a tall striking...more
Laura Leaney
Jun 01, 2012 Laura Leaney rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: True crime afficianados
This is a weirdly engrossing account of the Lucie Blackman case. Although I was alive and reading a newspaper in 2000, I do not remember reading about the search for her - or the resulting trial of Joji Obara, the man accused of her murder. The details of the case (as they are combined with other cases/crimes/psychological depravity) are fairly grisly, but more absorbing is Lloyd Parry's examination of the sociological and cultural aspects of Japan. And although it became a little tiresome, I al...more
Mara
Even after reading the entirety of this seemingly interminably long book, I'm not exactly clear on who these supposed "people" are who "eat darkness." What I do know is everything (and quite a bit more than) I ever wanted to know about the disappearance/murder of 21-year-old British national, Lucie Blackman , in July of 2000.

Why, you ask, did I think I would want the ins and outs of the case? Well, for one, I like to treat myself to a bit of trashy true crime now and then. Two, the single chapte...more
Caroline
***NO SPOILERS***

Overall, this is a quality true crime novel. At times Parry went off on unnecessary tangents that slowed the book’s pace. For example, at about the halfway point, the reader learns about the killer’s family, which is standard for true crime books, but Parry went into meticulous detail about the killer’s brother—-not about the killer (Joji Obara) and the kind of relationship he had with his brother, just about the brother. Considering this random information about the brother had...more
Cindy Knoke
This is a gripping, fascinating and thoroughly researched book. It covers the facts surrounding the disappearance of Lucie Blackman a twenty one-year-old British citizen who was briefly employed as a bar hostess in the Rappongi district in Japan. But the author with his meticulous research provides so much more than the details of this very tragic story.

The author was a British foreign correspondent who has lived for many, many years in Japan and has a deep respect for, and knowledge of, the cu...more
Jill
There is something so disgustingly exploitative about a true crime novel. Someone has suffered a gruesome and unfair death, leaving a horde of shellshocked family and friends behind, and then there is an author and his publisher, recounting the story for profit, and finally there is us, the readers, who feel a wispy nebula of sadness for the individual’s terrible fate, but who mostly feel a curiosity, an excitement to know all the criminal details, the bloodier the better.

Somehow Parry, a Britis...more
Carol
You kn0w going in that this isn't going to pretty and probably won't have a happy ending. That seems to be the nature of True Crime.

People Who Eat Darkness begins in the year 2000 with the disappearance of Lucie Blackman, once a British Airways flight attendant, who comes to Tokyo to be a hostess in the seamy Roppongi district. How did Lucie end up in here? The author, Richard Lloyd Parry does a thorough investigation and reporting of the case. Like the best of the true crime writers he does hi...more
Lilian
After I finished the prologue, I already had chills going down my spine. It was not a good idea to start this in bed/before going to sleep, since there was this "a ghost is sitting on my bed smoking a cigar" scene. I've been reading a number of dark books lately, I didn't know if I could get through another and still have a good night's sleep (being the scaredy cat that I am.) I debated immediately returning the book to the library, but ultimately decided to stick it out. I had a plan where I wo...more
Vegantrav
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Hannah
Well crafted true crime story. Learned alot about the Japanese semi-underground "hostess" culture as well as their criminal justice system. Quite chilling at times, but what Parry did best (IMO) was in his written observations of grief in all its manifestations. Writing about how the family/friends of Lucie Blackman dealt with losing her is brilliantly penned and framed within the context of the long search for Lucie, through the investigation, the subsequent trial and the aftermath.

As an aside,...more
Deborah Biancotti
I'm usually disappointed by true crime writing: it's too frequently sensationalist, melodramatic, & badly written. Not that I think those 3 things are unrelated.

Richard Lloyd Parry's writing is beautiful. He describes the "migraine hum of the expressway", and the Tokyo drinking places that were "tight with the torsos of American sailors and marines". He talks through the psychological profiles of the major players -- Lucie Blackman, her father, her sister, her mother, her string of still-lov...more
Joanne
I won't recap the crime that befell Lucie Blackman since so many other reviewers here have done so. The first half of this book I would rate 4 stars, but by the second half, I was so tired of the book going nowhere because the trial of Obara, which played out over 6 years, slowed the book down to almost a standstill. Jurisprudence in Japan is very different from the U.S. in that cases do not even come to trial unless the defendant is thought to be almost assuredly guilty. Yet because Obara playe...more
Liviania
So what sparked my interest in PEOPLE WHO EAT DARKNESS, the true crime account of the disappearance of British Lucie Blackman in Tokyo during the summer of 2000? The back blurb promised cultural and psychological insight on the level of Truman Capote's IN COLD BLOOD. It touched on one of my academic interests, East Asian culture, and one of my favorite books.

The comparison to IN COLD BLOOD on the back does PEOPLE WHO EAT DARKNESS no favors. Richard Lloyd Parry's lengthy and detailed account of t...more
La Petite Américaine
I bought this on impulse (damn Kindle)because the title was on some Amazon "Best Non-Fiction of 2012" list that came in my email. Best of 2012? Heh.

People Who Eat Darkness is the story of a Tokyo murder that happened in 2000, sort of like In Cold Blood meets Murakami. The only problem? People Who Eat Darkness has none of the Murakami and an excess of Capote.

What I'm saying is, all of these true-crime novels, from In Cold Blood to Helter Skelter to People Who Eat Darkness, are boring as hell. Th...more
Cheryl
Lucie Blackman and Louise Phillips were two young British girls who travelled to Tokyo, Japan to live and work. They took jobs as hostesses at a Tokyo nightspot. One afternoon in July 2000, Lucie told Louise that she was going out with a Japanese businessman and would be back by early evening. She never returned. Author Richard Lloyd Parry covered the story of Lucie’s disappearance for The Times of London. Once I began to read this story, I found it riveting—it was hard to put down. It is a firs...more
Scott Smith
This book isn't poorly written - nor is it gracefully written. It isn't sensationalistic or shallow, really - but it's not particularly profound or insightful, either. It probably wouldn't have been written were the victim of the horrible crime not a pretty young blond woman. (Why do sexual crimes involving pretty young blond women get so much media coverage, while sexual crimes against women who DON'T match those characteristics receive little or no public attention?)

The author is a British jou...more
Nancy Oakes
I seriously could not put this book down once I started it.

If you want to read the longer version I wrote for my blog, just click . Otherwise, read on.

In the area of true crime, when I come across a journalist whose writing isn't motivated by the sensational, or who has taken years to research his subject before publishing, I'm generally not disappointed. Such is the case with People Who Eat Darkness, a very intelligently-written book that moves far afield of the usual true crime output. The bo
...more
Rebecca Martin
This book is of the true crime genre and is written in reportorial language. It is not titillating or trashy. It's an absolutely fascinating look at the role of the bar "hostess" in contemporary Japanese culture and, specifically, the role of Western women who come to Japan to be hostesses and pick up some fast money. The role, as depicted here, is not prostitution, but can easily slip into that. And while it is often presented as free of danger because it is merely ritual behavior (flirtation w...more
Scott
This is a smart, sharp, skin-crawling true-crime page-turner about Lucie Blackman, a young, pretty Englishwoman who, while working as a hostess in Tokyo's Roppongi district (the sleazy part of town frequented by foreigners and the Japanese who lust after them), disappeared under strange circumstances, and stayed missing until... well, I didn't know, or had totally forgotten, the story of Lucie, and so read this totally cold, and, as much as possible, I suggest you do the same. So: you'll get no...more
Jim
This is probably one of the definitive, if not the definitive, books about the Lucie Blackman killing. Early on in the book the author, a Tokyo based journalist who covered the case, admits that his life has been sucked into this tragedy and that he finds journalistic objectivity to be difficult as he gets to know Lucie's family and friends. He is also drawn into the life of the killer, a mysterious, rich Japanese businessman, originally of Korean origin, as enigmatic and shadowy as the country...more
Jaclyn Day
Brandon says he sometimes gets concerned by the fact that one of my not-so-hidden guilty pleasures is watching true crime TV and reading various true crime nonfiction. “Are you planning something?” is something he’s asked me more than once. Anyway, because I’ve read a lot of the more well-known true crime books, I feel confident saying that this is one of the best—and also one of the scariest—that I’ve read in a long time.

I had just finished Gone Girl and was looking for something nonfiction (I...more
Patrick McCoy
I was compelled to read Richard Llyod Parry’s book, People Who Eat Darkness: The Fate Of Lucie Blackman, on the Lucie Blackman murder after seeing it on several best of the year lists for 2012. Lucie Blackman’s story resurfaced again back in 2007 when another English girl, Lindsay Hawker, was killed and raped by an alienated rich man who went on the lam for 36 months before being apprehended.. In 2000, the year Blackman was killed, I was living in Harajuku not far from where Blackman was staying...more
Brandon Abraham
This one had me awake past midnight brewing the Celestial Seasonings "Sleepy Bear" Tea to keep up. In a way, I feel as though Parry's work exceeds Capote's achievement in some aspects, particularly as Parry goes to great lengths to show how a society as violent crime-free as Japan manages to encounter great difficulty in the pursuit of justice. I felt as though his observations were spot-on, particularly in terms of examining cultural biases(for example, Anglo-American courts expect confrontatio...more
Louise
While this is a true crime story, author Richard Lloyd Perry delivers much more. He explores the world of roppongi, where a sub-culture of Japan exists. It is a world of modern day geisha (hostesses) who entertain male customers with attention and conversation. You learn how this world works, inside and outside of a club. Through the murder investigation, you about learn Japanese police practice including the handling the accused and its naivete in managing the press. There is a comparison of Ja...more
David
Aug 21, 2014 David rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to David by: Sjp

Thoroughly enjoyable, if you're allowed to say that sort of thing about true crime. I knew little about the case and there were some real surprises.

A lot's made of how shit the police were. But, you know, London's Met still hasn't solved that case of the African boy from the Thames: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_%28.... I guess every force, and every society, has its blind spots.

Bits I liked:

"Despite the pompous details - the leather door, the black bow ties worn by the waiter and the barma...more
♥ Marlene♥
A very well written account of a murder by a crazy guy with a lot of money but more about the family of the victim and their struggles.

The first half was very interesting. Then there were 1 r 2 chapters that I did not really care so much about but all in all a good read.

3.5 stars.
Jack Stovold
Gripping and addictive. I was going to spread this out over a week, but ended up reading over 400 pages of it last Sunday. Rich and moving, a must for anyone familiar with Japan.
Jeff Tucker
This is a pretty good true crime novel, although it’s not in the same league with books by authors like Ann Rule, in my opinion. It’s about Lucie Blackman, a 21 year old British woman who disappeared while working in Japan. The most interesting parts of the book deal with the Japanese police and the Japanese judicial system. Investigations and trials are very different from what we’re used to in the U.S. or what Lucie’s family was familiar with in England. The story is interesting but the book i...more
Kirk
Jul 16, 2014 Kirk rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kirk by: Mary-Jane
[3 and 1/2 stars]

This strange, sad, bleak story informs you that Japan is one of the safest countries in the world, with a ridiculously low violent crime rate, but also that you really, really don't want to ever be in a situation where you have to rely on the Japanese police to solve a mystery, because they just aren't very good at, well, policing. You also learn that Japanese prosecutors have a collective conviction rate of 99.85% (not a typo), while relying to a disturbing degree on confession...more
Sae-chan
Judge Tochigi, this was nothing compared to what people do in the other side of the world. It was shocking in Japan, nonetheless.

I think Obara thought he did nothing wrong to the girls. When he asked them to go to his house on the beach, what he actually meant was if they wanted to sleep with him. (This is just like Japanese language, when someone says "ocha demo nomimasenka" that doesn't mean that you are invited to have tea. The language is subtle.) So when they agreed to go to his beach house...more
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