The Rope Artist by Fuminori Nakamura
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Release Date: May 2, 2023
This is a hard-boiled detective novel centered around the mysterious death of a kinbaku artist, kinbaku is a Japanese art of tying up a person with rope, the practice sprung from the need to bind prisoners of war and criminals, but it came to be associated with the BDSM (Bondage, Domination / Submission, & Sado-Masochism) activities of kinky sex. The death of the rope artist, Kazunari Yoshikawa, is but the first of a few fatalities that are somehow connected, though the reader only learns how by following the story through to the end. There are several novel elements of the story that grab the reader’s attention, including: sex worker doppelgangers and a man with a missing finger and no known name.
I was engrossed by this novel. It captured my attention from the beginning. The psychology on display in the story is at once fascinating and bizarre. The story is told via three perspectives. The first is a junior detective, Togashi, who is a bit libido-driven and prone to ill-considered decisions. As a main character, one anticipates some of Togashi’s decisions because one knows what drives him, he’s a sucker for a pretty woman, but what the reader doesn’t know is when and how it will blow up in his face. The other main perspective is that of another detective, Hayama, who is the antithesis of Togashi. Hayama is immune to libidinous temptations and is solid as a rock where Togashi is nervous and neurotic. (The third perspective is Yoshikawa’s epistolary confession [no one has completely clean hands in this book.])
If you like crime fiction that’s a bit edgy, you may want to look into this book. That said, a warning for sensitive readers, it is sexually explicit and, while it’s not so sex-centered as to be primarily classified erotica, sex of various types occurs throughout the book.
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