It's August 1946—one year after the Japanese surrender—and women are turning up dead all over Tokyo. Detective Minami of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police—irreverent, angry, despairing—goes on the hunt for a killer known as the Japanese Bluebeard—a decorated former Imperial soldier who raped and murdered at least ten women amidst the turmoil of post-war Tokyo. As he undertakes the case, Minami is haunted by his own memories of atrocities that he can no longer explain or forgive. Unblinking in its vision of a nation in a chaotic, hellish period in its history, Tokyo Year Zero is a darkly lyrical and stunningly original crime novel.
How exhilarating…to discover David Peace through his brilliant, perplexing, claustrophobic and ambiguous seventh novel, Tokyo Year Zero…The atmosphere Peace creates, built through nightmarish repetition, keeps the reader off-balance. Peace's Tokyo is a smoky, fetid city, filled with packs of wild dogs and equally feral humans, scavengers all. Within the relentless fragments of italicized interpolation that serve as both exposition and background noise Peace places bits of popular song, propaganda phrases, the importuning of prostitutes, the sound of air raids and repeated phrases from the haunted, self-lacerating monologue Minami conducts at all times. There is constant oscillation between waking and dreaming, past and present, memory and fantasy…Above all, Tokyo Year Zero portrays a rigidly hierarchical culture recovering from the near chaos brought on by its defeat. One of the marvelous things about the novel is Peace's depiction of a country on its knees but relying for order upon the maintenance of elaborate everyday formalities and ceremonies.