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3.52  ·  Rating details ·  1,884 ratings  ·  245 reviews
A young insurance saleswoman is found strangled at Mitsuse Pass. Her family and friends are shocked and terrified. The pass—which tunnels through a mountainous region of southern Japan—has an eerie history: a hideout for robbers, murderers, and ghostly creatures lurking at night.
Soon afterward, a young construction worker becomes the primary suspect. As the investigation
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published August 3rd 2010 by Pantheon (first published April 6th 2007)
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3.52  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,884 ratings  ·  245 reviews

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Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the villain in you
Recommended to Jaidee by: the villain in me
Shelves: five-stars-books
5 "The Villainy and Victimhood of Loneliness" Stars !!!

4th Favorite Read of 2018

The simple prose initially lulls you to believe that you are reading a straightforward murder mystery.
You ride along the seaside in suburban Japan and are enveloped in mist, pollution, marital discontent, family dysfunction and a eighty two types of loneliness.

You are introduced to a dozen or so characters who are linked either to the murderer or the victim and their psyches swirl inside of you until the question
You may have seen Villain touted as "the next Stieg Larsson." Never mind that Steig Larsson is a person and Villain is a book. Probably the people who said this meant Stieg Larsson's books. So aside from the fact that they are both translated into English and involve murder, I noted the following similarities between the two for however many chapters it took for me to get bored of writing stuff down while trying to read this kind of dull book:

- we're repeatedly told what street everything is on
I have a weakness for Japanese crime novels--Matsumoto, Miyabe, Higashino--and this one, by Shuichi Yoshida, is among the best. What's wonderful is how easily, how naturally, Yoshida slips into various points of view, giving us a full picture of the culture of a contemporary small Japanese city and seaside town. The novel might be subtitled Mitsuse Pass as the treacherous mountain road, the scene of the crime, is always in the background and often visited by various characters. But perhaps the m ...more
Crime novels are often the best kind of fiction for illuminating a society, and I've certainly found that to be the case with the Japanese crime fiction I've read. They really highlight some of the aspects of Japan that are so completely different from life in America. In this first of Yoshida's books to be translated into English, a sense of isolation and oppression hangs heavily over many of the characters, both young and old, and the overall effect is a portrait of a stifling society at odds ...more
Robyn Smith
Dec 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel presents a bleak picture of Japanese society today, with all the problems Western countries have experienced for years. However, it is written in a very interesting way, by revealing the murderer's identity during the course of the book,as well as describing the main characters and their alienation and loneliness, in relationships, particularly with families.
I did find myself thinking about halfway through the book, oh no, not more new characters, but it was relevant and added to the
One morning in January 2006, the body of a female insurance saleswoman, Yoshino was found dead on Mitsue Pass. A young construction worker, Yuichi is arrested for her murder. Shifting perspectives, Villain tells the story of the events leading up to Yoshino’s murder and the aftermaths.

Kosaku Yoshida is often considered as one of Japan’s best crime writers and as a fan of Japanese Lit, I knew I had to check one of his books out. However I was a little disappointed; the story was interesting but I
Maureen Lo
I wonder what if Jay Rubin were to translate this book...hmmm.
Sam Still Reading
Jul 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Natsuo Kirino and thrillers
Recommended to Sam Still Reading by: like Japanese fiction
Villain was one of the books I bought with a Christmas gift voucher. I am interested in Japanese fiction translated into English, enjoying Natsuo Kirino and Haruki Murakami to name a few. So when I saw another Japanese translated work on the shelf, I jumped on it immediately.

Villain does not disappoint. It is a tightly woven thriller, linking together many disparate characters who are all somehow involved in the murder of a young lady on the creepy Mitsue Pass. It involves her friends, her (imag
Linh Bún
Feb 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A boy who was abandoned by his mom.
A girl who never found love.
A dad who lives for his daughter.
A grandma who hopes for courage.

And the heartless, the ignorant, the indifferent, the ungrateful, the depressed, the socially awkward, the unconfident, the insignificant...

All the people appeared in this story gave a piece, or all, of their lives, to demonstrate the lives of thousands others in the society. There are social issues, generations gap, reckless lifestyles, materialism, crimes, and more
Apr 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
So the first couple of pages of Villain don’t exactly make you want to jump into the fray. Because it reads like a rather boring travel guide, written by somebody who is rather into transportation and roads. You can know all you need to know about the tolls for vehicles between Nagasaki and Fukuoka, Nagasaki and Hakata.

I went along with it, and then comes the trigger. The last paragraph (of the first section) tells the reader of an arrest, of a crime, essentially spelling it out for you.

And that
Oct 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
WOW....what an AMAZING story. i'm a HUGE fan of japanese mysteries translated into english. it's been a long long time since i've read a book like "Villain" and felt the rush of a storyline that absorbs you completely. Shuichi Yoshida weaves a stellar cast of characters that leaves you entranced finding out more about how their relationships are all interwoven.

at the heart of the story is a murder of an office lady who is found at the top of a haunted tunnel pass in japan. the story develops by
Sep 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating novel which isn't just a crime novel. It looks at the victim, the murderer but also at their families and their friends. This isn't a novel where everything is 'black and white', the lines blur, the characters challenge you to understand them. Intelligent, interesting and it really makes you think.
This novel just didn't resonate well with me. I usually devour Japanese crime novels but reading this seemed like a chore and I had to speed read in the end to get it over and done with.
It started with a crime already took place and someone been caught and the story goes wandering around through each characters involved-- their point of views, emotions and thoughts, the hidden feeling and stories, testimonies.

Love how it all goes. For each sub-chapter with different characters telling their stories, I was been hypnotized with the story-telling-- getting all emotional and heart-breaking, mad and unsatisfied, sympathy and hatred.

I actually feel bad for Yuichi, for what he had to
R.B. Lemberg
Apr 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-novels
My spouse got this for me thinking it's a hardboiled detective novel (at least a thriller), but it was a literary novel about loneliness, despair, and alienation. The cover is striking but entirely misleading, as there are neither guns nor bones in the story. I wanted to read a hardboiled detective novel and would have probably given this a pass if I knew more about it before I began reading, but I would have missed out. It is haunting (even has some supernatural elements), memorable, and finely ...more
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
*4.5 stars* Amazing story, filled with suspense and mystery! Might give a reread in the future
Oct 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As an avid reader of Japanese literature, Villain struck a cord with me that I either never paid attention to with other books or never knew I had in the first place. Sure there have been several books that have moved me in various ways but with Villain the feeling is different.

I didn't really empathize with any of the characters in any way, not Yoshio and his wife Satoko, not Yuichi, not Yoshino. Normally these characters leave an impression on me once I reach the last page but with this book t
Sep 11, 2016 rated it liked it
This was a great thriller wrapped up in some poor translation. The translator is the same man who worked on some of Haruki Murakami and Natsuo Kirino, but for some reason this translation was not as well done.

There were sentences that seemed awkward, not like they were grammatically incorrect, but like they just didn't make sense with modern ways of saying the same thing. The book seemed unnecessarily formal and as if it was a direct translation, (dog ate cat, not the dog ate the cat). Ther
Richard Stuart
Apr 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Villain is a book that tells human truths in all their honesty and ugliness. It is well paced with nice characterizations and has a plot that illuminates the central character's soul so much that others around him are seen through its shinning brilliance.

Note: you must read to the very end to savor this book's central psychological contradiction.
26 May 2019. Finished Villian by Shuichi Yoshida.

Rating - 1 star
Genre - Thriller
Sub-genre - Crime
Audience - Adult Male
Publisher - Vintage Books
Original Language - Japanese

Yoshino, twenty-one year old insurance saleswoman, is found murdered. There aren't any witnesses, and in the week before the murder, she was in contact with over fifty people. One of these people is Yuichi Shimizu, a twenty-seven year old construction worker. He met up with Yoshino on the night of her death, but did he murder h
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did not expect to like this book as much as I did! A very very good noir.
At first I found the writing to be a bit slow, then I changed my mind completely. It is thanks to its descriptive nature that you end up feeling such a wide range of emotions from the first page to the very last sentence of the book!
The characters, the story, and even the scenery, all centre on the theme of loneliness in Japanese society, at all levels. I guess the story could have had something more, but nevertheless th
Jun 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars
Leah Bayer
3.5 stars

An interesting look at isolation and its effect on the human psyche. Perhaps a bit bloated character-wise (I found there to be a few too many perspectives), but the end was very effective. Like much if Japanese crime fiction this is more of a whydunnit than a whodunnit.
Dec 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, review-books, asian
I had no idea what to expect when I sat down to read VILLAIN, although the Japan Book News quote on the back of the book "... lays out a panorama of modern Japanese society, a patchwork composed of people of various classes and occupations..." really appealed. And the book most definitely did not disappoint.

Intricate, telling, tightly woven, tense and yet somehow languid and flowing, VILLAIN was an outstanding read. Not just because of the way that the identity of the murderer slowly creeps up o
David Haws
Shelby Foote noted a nearly universal desire on the part of young, white, southern boys from his generation: to be at Seminary Ridge before the flags were unfurled—and somehow exact a different ending than what inevitably followed Pickett’s Charge. In the beginning of a new relationship, we all hold onto a similar, grim belief that somehow with us, this time, things will end differently. Villain explores the gap between what we want in our relationships, and what we get.

As a species, we are bas
Shravan Bendapudi
Jun 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Although this is my first Japanese crime novel, this book continues my current love affair with translated Japanese literature - Haruki Murakami, Ryu Murakami, Banana Yoshimoto and the ilk.

What I love about the books these guys write is that there is so much earnestness and so much heart in all the characters they write out ... you can make out the care that the authors take in carving out these people each mundane day-to-day action to the next. Never flash, never resorting to pizzazz to hold y
Gerald Kinro
Jun 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Yoshino Ishibashi, a young insurance sales woman is found dead aat a mountain pass in Kyushu, Southern Japan. Yuichi Shimizu, a 27 year old construction worker with a troubled past becomes the prime suspect. In the meantime, Yuichi befriends Mitsuyo who like Yoshino, is lonely and wanting for love and acceptance.

In this uniquely plotted work, Yoshida creates a noir mystery where it is not the police or the authorities who solve the crime first, but the reader. In fact there is very little scene
3.5 starter -better than average, but something missing to pass it with distinction. And here, the something was the ambiguity as to the ending, and the thought process that went behind the violence. A girl who likes finding online dates and make them pay for favors, is found strangled near a lonely highway pass,and her middle class parents are devastated. Soon dirty secrets emerge, and the suspects narrow down to two of her recent boyfriends - both of whom had interactions with her on the fatal ...more
Shuichi Yoshida's Villain isn't your typical crime novel. Yes, there is a crime at its heart — the murder of a young woman — but it's not a police procedural and it's fairly obvious from the start who committed the crime, though we are never completely sure why he did it.

The book is more a look at the outfall of the murder on a series of characters — including the woman's hardworking parents, her friends and the accused — and how they adjust to changed circumstances. As such, it provides an inte
Jan 26, 2011 rated it liked it
I decided to read this book because it was reviewed in the New Yorker and it had enjoyed nice comments. However, I have to say this won't deserve to be introduced such highly, especially when the translation fails to convey fully the voice of the original.
I'm a native speaker of Japanese and I used to live in the very area which the story takes place.
There are many kind of dialects spoken in that area and the original novel skillfully let each character tell stories with their own language. Th
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Shūichi Yoshida (吉田 修一) was born in Nagasaki, and studied Business Administration at Hosei University. He won the Bungakukai Prize for New Writers in 1997 for his story "Saigo no Musuko", and the Akutagawa Prize in 2002 (the fifth time he'd been nominated for the prize) for "Park Life". In 2002 he also won the Yamamoto Prize for Parade, and for winning both literary and popular prizes Yoshida was ...more
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“Until I met you," she said, "I never realized how precious each day could be. When I was working, each day was over before I knew it, and then a week just flew by, and then a whole year...What have I been doing all this time? Why didn't I meet you before? If I had to choose a whole year in the past, or a day with you-I'd choose a day with you...” 10 likes
“There're too many people in the world like you," Yoshio said. "Too many people who don't have anyone they care about. Who think if they don't love anyone else then they're free to do whatever they want. They think they have nothing to lose, and that makes them stronger. If you have nothing to lose, there's nothing you really want, either. You're full of confidence, and look down on people who lose things, who want things, who are happy, or sad sometimes. But that's not the way things are. And it's just not right.” 10 likes
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