In 2000, 21-year-old Lucie Blackman, a vivacious British blonde, sick of being a flight attendant and troubled by debt, headed to Tokyo to take a job as a bar hostess. She’d heard that the work was lucrative and safe: drinking with Japanese businessmen in a hands-off ritual of flirtation and flattery; only egos were stroked. She’d earn bonuses by dining out with the men, then bringing them back to the club for drinks. That was harmless, too—until it wasn’t. One night, Blackman headed off with a customer and never returned. It’s no spoiler to say she came to a bad end; her death made big news. In People Who Eat Darkness (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), Richard Lloyd Parry, Tokyo bureau chief of the Times of London, examines the case, offering a combination of family drama, police procedural, colliding-cultures ethnography and courtroom cliff-hanger. He’s especially deft at illuminating the lives of the victim, her estranged parents and a uniquely kinky killer. Lucid, never lurid, the book zips along like a bullet train, taking us where top-notch true crime ought to: deep into satisfyingly unsettling territory.
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