I’m proud to say I finished the Japanese Literature Challenge with this one book! *claps* one challenge down, millions more to go 😀 oh well at least I managed to read books that I wouldn’t have picked up otherwise, so this sort of thing did open my eyes up to other genres out there.
Crossfire by Miyuki Miyabe is a police paranormal mystery which has one side; Chikako Ishizu and her colleagues in the police force and the other side; Junko Aoki and her quest for justice against cold hearted sadistic criminals who prey on innocent people. Junko has a very special gift of pyrokenesis (think of Stephen King’s Firestarter) and uses that against the criminals. It leaves no evidence except for charred bodies. Chikako is part of the arson squad and realizes this sort of case isn’t just normal arson. With the help of other detectives and very skeptical of paranormal theory she’s caught with trying to believe the impossible while chasing Junko who’s leaving a trail of bodies from place to place. However there’s another pair of eyes who are interested in Junko and want to recruit her to their cause.
This book was all right. I liked how they showed both sides of the story and both point of views. It was a nice even exchange between chapters and it went smooth for the most part. I have to admit though, although the beginning of the book really got me it just started to fall short and falls flat midway and I found myself wondering what’s going to happen next and how soon because to be honest, I was starting to get a little bored of the book. Not to mention besides the main characters, there were so many other secondary characters mentioned I was left wondering who this person was again and I had to either read back a few pages or commit to memory who they were. It got a little frustrating as they appeared for one chapter and wouldn’t come back until much much later. However, I found myself a little more intrigued bit by bit on how all these characters had to be connected somehow to each other and I was left guessing until the last moment. It was actually pretty well done despite these little flaws.
I really did try to like Chikako but just couldn’t do it. I was really trying to warm up to her but she was just flat. It just sort of seemed although she put the pieces together and helped solved the crime she really was just there for the ride. There wasn’t much personality to her I thought. Unlike Junko. I think she was the main focus in the book hence why she seemed to be the only real character in the book that developed well throughout the book. Junko went from someone who was angry and out for justice to someone who finally found closure and absolute closure.
The plot moved fairly smoothly although there were a bit of bumps and blips here with background information which was useful in some parts but in some other areas of the book it wasn’t really necessary. Then sometimes I felt the plot was just going in circles and very redundant. It was really starting to get old. At that point, I wished the plot would have moved more quickly instead of lingering and remaining stagnant. It also felt as if these moments were needed as a space filler. It nearly took the heart and the momentum of the plot because of these bumps.
Overall, it wasn’t so bad but it wasn’t so great either. It could have been better but the climactic ending did make up for it and as the story came to a close, it had a nice sense of completion. Would I recommend this? Well, that depends. Stick with Junko. She’s the more exciting arc in the plot than Chikako. Try and read through the unnecessary stuff but the underlying layers of the plot actually also make up for its shortfalls.
I give it a 6 out of 10.