The kind people at Michael Joseph were good enough to invite me to a drinks party right in the heart of London’s theatreland, literally a stone’s throw from the glitter of The Royal Opera House, and the more forbidding bulk of the former Bow Street Magistrates Court, surely haunted by the phantom of many infamous defendants, including Roger Casement, William Joyce and the Kray twins.
Up on the third floor of The Covent Garden pub, however, the crime was purely fictional, in the shape of forthcoming novels from the Michael Joseph stable. Canadian Elan Mastai (pictured above)has already achieved fame as a screenwriter for such films as The F Word (starring Daniel Ratcliffe) and Fury (starring Samuel L Jackson), but his debut novel All Our Wrong Todays is already generating a considerable buzz in the book world. It concerns a young man called Tom who seizes the opportunity to energise his glum present day existence with the help of his father’s time machine. Mastrai gives us the top notes of a contemporary thriller, with the more complex harmonies of the differences between dull but predictable reality, and the altogether more dangerous world of dreams.
More conventionally ‘crimey’ is Blue Light Yokohama – also a debut – by Nicolás Obregón (pictured above). The novel is based on Japan’s most infamous unsolved crime in recent decades – the Setagaya Family Murder. Mikio Miyazawa, 44, his 41-year-old wife Yasuko, 8-year-old daughter Niina, and 6-year-old son Rei, were found dead on the morning of Dec 31, 2000. Miyazawa’s son had been strangled, and the other three had been stabbed to death. Fingerprints and other evidence in the home indicate the killer used the computer and ate ice cream after the attack on Dec 30, spending up to 11 hours before leaving the next morning.
Approximately 190,000 officers have been involved in the case to date, and police have received more than 16,000 pieces of information from the public, yet the killer remains at large. Fifty police officers are still assigned to the case to follow up on any leads. The reward was raised from the initial 3 million yen to 10 million yen for information which leads to the killer or killers’ arrest.
Into the middle of this true crime scene, Obregón pitches Inspector Kosuke Iwata, a policeman racked with personal pain and guilt. He senses that his integrity and persistent search for the truth will upset senior colleagues, and he knows the clock is ticking down towards his own ruin – or a fresh atrocity. The title? Obregón tells me it is a popular song from the 1960s, best described as Japanese country and western.
Both books are due out in the spring of 2017, and you will be able to read full reviews on Fully Booked nearer the time. For information on All Our Wrong Todays contact Ellie Hughes at EHughes@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk, and Gaby Young at GYoung@penguinrandomhouse.co.uk for Blue Light Yokohama.