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  ·  4,161 ratings  ·  716 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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Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John BerendtIn Cold Blood by Truman CapoteAssuming Names by Tanya ThompsonThe Devil in the White City by Erik LarsonHelter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi
True Crime--Well Written
6th out of 155 books — 144 voters
Beautiful Ruins by Jess WalterThe Round House by Louise ErdrichBring Up the Bodies by Hilary MantelThis Is How You Lose Her by Junot DíazBehind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2012
37th out of 100 books — 419 voters

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Community Reviews

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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
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
Aug 07, 2013 Caroline rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Fans of true crime stories
Recommended to Caroline by: People magazine
******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 broth...more
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
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
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
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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
♥ 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
So, if you are someone who'll read a true-life crime book, but prefer something with a little more substance, I highly recommend this book. As horrific as the crime was, the focus of the book is really on the victim's family, and the struggles they have in dealing with a Japanese law enforcement culture that runs the gamut from aloof to incompetence. Much of that component is interestingly cultural, and much of the reason I wanted to read the book. Friends of mine who've worked in Japan argue th...more
At first glance I guessed that this was true crime, a "genre" I don't typically read. But because it was reviewed in the New York Times and Salon, etc., I reassessed: it mustn't fit the "true crime" label. Yet in reading/listening to the book I felt that dirtiness of prurient eavesdropping on dysfunctional and/or f*cked up lives that makes true crime so distasteful. And I don't recall Dwight Garner or Laura Miller mentioning this in their reviews, but I didn't feel good about participating in a...more
Overall fairly interesting, though a bit uneven at times. That's probably more down to this being real life than anything the author can do much about. For instance, there's very little about Obara's past or his family. But what's a reporter supposed to do if people don't want to talk?

There were a few areas that I felt could have been better handled: did he interview Tim or Carita's family after they accepted the cash? The people who seemed to have fallings out with Tim don't get much of a chanc...more
Not generally a true crime fan, but was interested in this book since I followed the case pretty closely when the story first broke (though the victim's nationality meant it got far less attention here in the US than in Great Britain).

Journalist Parry does in thorough job in laying out the facts (and the lies) and putting them all in context - you'll learn about Roppongi and the mizu-shobai, the bubble economy and its collapse, crime investigation in Japan, how the Japanese legal system works,...more
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