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Return to Hiroshima

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4.50  ·  Rating details ·  46 ratings  ·  33 reviews
1995, Japan struggles with a severe economic crisis. Fate brings a number of people together in Hiroshima in a confrontation with dramatic consequences. Xavier Douterloigne, the son of a Belgian diplomat, returns to the city, where he spent his youth, to come to terms with the death of his sister. Inspector Takeda finds a deformed baby lying dead at the foot of the Peace M ...more
Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published March 26th 2018 by Crime Wave Press
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Kirsty ❤️
Apr 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I won a copy of this book through Rafflecopter. Sometimes it's worth it to request something out of your reading comfort zone because I don't normally read noir fiction and so would have missed a really intriguing book. 

It's very dark and compelling tale taking place during the 50th anniversary of Hiroshima. I don't really know much of Hiroshima beyond what I have occasionally read in newspapers or general war history books. Events of that time play a part in how the story eventually unfolds. It
...more
Rowena Hoseason
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
This complex and compelling novel of criminal intrigue contrives to be immense and intimate, simultaneously. The expansive narrative extends across time and philosophical space to pierce the psyche of a nation in turmoil, yet this sprawling story is told in intensely personal episodes.

Author Bob Van Laerhoven pulls together an outlandish ensemble cast of peculiar personalities; fierce, fragile individuals who claw their way under your skin. Their predicaments –and their potential to unleash cha
...more
Isobel Blackthorn
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have a healthy appetite for noir fiction and found Return to Hiroshima a sumptuous and wonderfully grotesque feast. Centred in Hiroshima and written for a Western audience, Van Laerhoven paints a vivid and dark portrait of Japan, its culture and society, and an equally vivid and dark portrait, both immediate and fifty years on, of the aftermath of Little Boy - the atomic bomb that fell on Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945.

Through the eyes of a diverse cast of characters, the reader enters a deep-s
...more
E. Denise Billups
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Return to Hiroshima, by Bob Van Laerhoven, is a novel that falls between many genres, Noir, Crime Thriller, Mystery, Literary, and Historical fiction. This multi-genre story unfolds in many layers, shedding a country's horrific past. Mr. Laerhoven’s novel is replete with sinister characters, lost, damaged souls consumed with wicked, corrupt acts―greed, incest, lust, and a murderous psychopath of imperial blood, believed the incarnate of Rokurobei, a Japanese demon, and a master of lies. Lies so ...more
Liz
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Return to Hiroshima is a novel with lyrical prose and interesting characters. My favorite is Mitsuko who escaped from Hashima Island. This island just outside of Nagasaki and Hiroshima is covered by a ruined factory and concrete buildings, mostly apartments. Mitsuko used to find a place by the ocean to read - her only escape. At 21, she fleed from her crime lord father. I love the references to rafts in this book. "I’m drifting on an ocean of remembered fragments, not a raft in sight. If it goes ...more
Lel Budge
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Set in Japan, many years after the horrific bombing of Hiroshima. This is historical fiction with a difference.

There are several plot lines running together, which at first may seem a little disjointed, but it all comes together in this incredibly dark tale.

Not only does it tell of the life and culture of Japan, it tells of a darker side. The side effects of the bombing are described in gruesome detail. There’s also murder, mystery, brutality, rape, torture and a lot of violence but also about f
...more
Yvonne
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I think the cover for this book is quite grim and sinister looking. The story inside is as equally as grim and definitely more sinister than I was expecting and also very intense. It did require a lot of concentration on my part for the beginning 25%. Characters were quickly introduced in rapidly alternating chapters. At times it was a struggle to keep up with who was who and what role they were going to play. Then suddenly I started to get a feel for them, starting to recognise them easier and ...more
Hugh M.
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"Return to Hiroshima” has ruined several nights of my life. It’s an intricate, challenging, eye-widening, and confronting novel that defies all genres, and it possesses a hard-to-analyze dark magic. The story is set in 1995, Hiroshima, Japan, but each page is drenched in an atmosphere of the doom that was installed 50 years earlier when the nuclear bomb “Little Boy” exploded above the city, and changed human history forever. Van Laerhoven uses several clever story-lines that ultimately come toge ...more
Fran
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing

Return to Hiroshima



An array of unique characters marked with personalities, pasts and each with his/her own way of dealing with life, Return to Hiroshima, set in Japan takes us back to remembering the atomic bomb dropped on that city and the consequences even now if a bomb were to be dropped there once again. What are the long-time effects of a nuclear bomb fallout? The  year is 1995, a year that is odd and non-descript, where something happens that takes us back the what happened during WWII.
...more
Ankita Singh
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs
If I had to write a one sentence review, I'd say that "Return to Hiroshima is not a book you should take lightly." With scenes describing the Hiroshima-Nagasaki bomb blasts and the destruction thereof, it was a gruesome, goosebumps raising read. 


I'm not much of a Historical Fiction buff, and the ones that I do read, I usually don't enjoy. But Return to Hiroshima was a welcome change, and it made me think that I just might enjoy the genre if I read books set in histories that might interest me. 


I
...more
Jessica Belmont
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Return to Hiroshima is a dark, gripping novel, filled with a beautifully real-feeling Japenese culture and society along with corruption and the search for power. The story is very grim and sinister, and at times, very intense. There are some difficult topics covered in this story, with research centers and camps during WWII, but it fits with the theme over the novel and is necessary for telling the story.

One part of this novel that threw me off a tiny bit was the rapid character introduction in
...more
Chris
Dec 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: misc-fiction
I received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

This book starts out being a little difficult to get into because it switches characters from chapter to chapter. Once you get used to it, the story really sucks you in. The plot is complex, the atmosphere is dark, and the story really shows you an in depth look inside the culture of the Japanese and how the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima affected those who lived through it and also future generations. If you're looking for a re
...more
P.A. Rudders
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A darkly poignant dive into the underbelly of Japanese lore and mystery ...

Steeped in intricacy and too many horrors waiting to jump out of the shadows as each element of the story begins to find its place, it would be impossible to do justice to any sort of plot summary here. Suffice to say, the reader is taken on one hell of a dark and often upsetting journey: a seven-foot woman haunted by either real or imaginary memories of childhood horrors and abuse, an investigation into the murder of a n
...more
Kate
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a wild ride we are given by Mr Van Laerhoven in a novel where Sin City meets Glass meets No Country for Old Men - a story of stories. In Return to Hiroshima we are drawn to the frontline of several lives being intricately woven together and then filleted right before our eyes. This is a dark, complicated and challenging read set during the 50th anniversary of Little Boy being dropped on Japan, the past and present evident in every decision made. 

We are thrown into the middle of a battle of
...more
Olga Miret
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thanks to the author for providing me a paperback copy of the book that I freely chose to review.
I read and reviewed Baudelaire’s Revenge some time ago and I was fascinated and intrigued by it, so I did not think twice when the author told me he had published a new novel. Van Laerhoven’s work has won awards, been translated into several languages, and he has a unique voice that stays with the reader long after finishing the book. I don’t mean the stories and the plots of his books are not inter
...more
Kriti | Armed with A Book
Detailed thoughts posted on Armed with A Book

I have always been fascinated by stories set in Japan and that is why I chose this book. There are a number of characters in the story, many of them with hidden identities. We start off with Mitsuko, a young woman who has run away from her home on the Hashima Island, escaping from her father. She is pregnant and does not want to lose her child. Soon after, a baby is found by the peace monument, embalmed with a chrysanthellum flower on its foot.

Th
...more
Elizabeth
Jun 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Return to Hiroshima is the first book I've read by author Bob Van Laerhoven and it did not disappoint. I'm extremely thankful he was kind enough to reach out and see if I would give this book a go. I just hope I do it justice in my attempt to review. 

Goodness, I seriously can't think of where or how to begin. This is an intricate and very well thought out novel. Hiroshima tells the story of Japan's current culture while it somehow holds onto the past. In following several characters and their j
...more
Rekha
Jan 06, 2019 rated it liked it
A Yakuza lord believes that he's the reincarnation of the Japanese demon Rokurobei. He would go to any extent to get what he wants. He kills his wife and his daughter's potential lover - reason: they were getting too close to his beloved daughter! Not just that, when his daughter confronts him and calls him a monster, he rapes her!!! The daughter, Mitsuko, gives birth to a son. The baby is deformed, just like the ones that were found after the nuclear bombing.

Xavier, the son of a Belgian diploma
...more
L.S.
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Having recently read the memoir of a survivor of Hiroshima, I was "in the zone" and keen to read this book.

The story began slowly as the author introduced us to lots of characters, each with their own chapter and story. The transitions from one chapter to another were abrupt and choppy; this was a book that demanded concentration to keep up with the many characters and how they would eventually fit together. I did find it quite difficult to follow, but as the story developed and more was reveale
...more
Jessica Bronder
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This story is about Mitsuko, the daughter of Rokurobei. Rokurobei is considered the reincarnation of a Japanese demon runs the Yakuza. He feels his daughter is insane and has to protect his empire from her. Mitsuko can handle the abuse no longer and leaves and finds herself staying with Reizo, an author that is writing a novel that will change everything.

We also have Xavier Douterloigne that is trying to come to terms with the death of his sister while visiting the country he spent most of his
...more
Cassandra MADEUP BookBlog
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was far from the type of story I was expecting when I initially picked this book up, in fact this was so very different from what I expected that it took me a while to decide what exactly it was that I felt about it.

This story follows multiple Characters, and each has a reason for being in the story. There wasn’t a perspective that didn’t make sense, no. Characters whose story didn’t link to the intriguing conclusions the tale was brought to.

Each perspective had a reason for being there, a
...more
Dee
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’ve enjoyed Mr. Laerhoven’s work in the past and was equally impressed by “Return to Hiroshima.” The author has a knack for digging below the surface to expose the darkness that lies beneath—in this case, underground Japan. We all know the story of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but what this book explores is the aftermath for the Japanese people, their society and culture, and the physical and psychological impact for both. This is all intertwined in a suspenseful mystery filled with ...more
De Gevallene
Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The last time I read a book as dark and dangerous as Bob van Laerhoven’s Return to Hiroshima, I was still a child. I remember it well, all those years ago: turning secret pages under the desk during lessons, my heart pounding. I was blind to the writing on the blackboard, deaf to the drone of the teacher; I wanted only to sink further into the terrible history unfolding in the shadows beneath the desk. So much death, so much terror, so much vengeance.
It was the Old Testament.
At the risk of thun
...more
Leelynn (Sometimes Leelynn Reads) ❤
Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Crime Wave Press and Blackthorn Book Tours for this free copy.

Books like this, where the setting or the content of the plot, something to do with the book basically, has some sort of meaning to me, are hard to read sometimes. I don’t even know if that sentence above made sense to me or whoever is reading this, but basically having this book take place in Hiroshima and hav
...more
B.J. Tiernan
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Return To Hiroshima is no vanilla novel. Rather, it is a complicated, decadent, dark-chocolate tale revealing the caliginous side of the human affair. The specific, concrete imagery and regional flavor that the author uses, vividly captures the pre and post-war setting of Japan and quickly sets the mood - a dark, gloomy, disquieting mood - a Cimmerian darkness that can be felt through and through, first page to last.

At times, the novel is difficult to read. It is hard to look at the human condit
...more
Michelle Whitham (curled_up_with_a_good_book)
It’s the first time I’ve read Noir Fiction and have discovered the genre isn’t really for me. However, I don’t believe it’s a reflection on the author or the story. This is a well written, complex story that is told from a number of different points of view. The story certainly had me gripped throughout and although I found it a bit of struggle to read, I knew I had to get to the end to see what happened.

The characters are all very dark, mainly with terrible backgrounds and there is also a lot o
...more
Wolf Schimanski
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Bob Van Laerhoven is a deeply sensitive and poignant writer. His characters and plot development and interactions are almost un-paralleled. With this noir story that follows a group of conflicted and interesting characters looking for answers to their troubled lives, the author has once again outdone himself. Add twists and turns, cruelty, deception, intrigue, brutality and you have this masterpiece in a nutshell. Everyone should read Van Laerhoven to get a whole new insight on the human conditi ...more
Misty
Nov 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Return to Hiroshima by Bob Van Laerhoven was a well written book that took place in a dark historical time, yet the author did a wonderful job in creating a story that had its own sort of draw to it that did not allow me to stop reading. I just had to find out how the book would end. I also liked that the book took place in Japan as this is one of the few books I have read that don't take place in the US or UK.
Becca McCulloch
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
All e written but grisly

Not sure I liked it but I can see its merit as a story about bad people doing terrible things. I don't know the culture well enough to know if the fiction is based on reality. It certainly partitioned Japan as cold and unfeeling and corrupt. A strong example of genre even if it won't make my list of favorite novels
Marina Sofia
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Set in 1995 and giving an alternative explanation of the sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo underground, this is conspiracy theory thriller writing that certainly makes for a page turner, although I was not equally convinced by all of the characters (and the sheer number of them).
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Flemish author of more than 30 books. You'll find them on my website in three languages: Dutch-French-English. Currently published in The Netherlands, Belgium, USA, Canada, France, Italy, Russia. Winner of the Hercule Poirot Prize for the best crime novel of the year 2007 with "De Wraak van Baudelaire" (Baudelaire's Revenge). Baudelaire's Revenge is published in the US by Pegasus Books in hardcove ...more

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